From Insignificant to Manificent
From Insignificant to Magnificent.
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His going forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
Micah 5:2 is the most familiar of all the verses of the book. When the Christmas story of the visit of the Magi is read, it is this verse that the religious leaders quoted to guide the wisemen to find the birthplace of the Messiah. While the verse is often mentioned in relation to the coming salvation of Christ, the passage itself promises both judgment and salvation. In verse 2, Micah predicts the siege of the Babylonians when King Nebuchadnezzar will defeat Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. It would be a time of great despair when it seemed God had abandoned Judah, and the nation was coming to an end. However, in contrast to the weak rulers that led Israel to its downfall, there would arise a new leader, one who would fulfill the Messianic promises of a King who would reign over Israel.
Surprisingly, this messianic King would not come from a kingly family who frequented the halls of the capital in Jerusalem. Instead, he would come from a podunk village, insignificant in size and significance. It was a place people would pass through on their way to the urban center of Israel’s political and religious life. While the small village has become entrenched in our thinking because of its association with the Christmas story, for those living both in the time of Micah and in the time of Christ, Bethlehem was like all other small villages: a small forgotten town that people would pass by without giving it a moment's pause. It was a village that epitomized littleness and weakness. Yet from this forgotten and overlooked village, the Messianic king would rise. But this king would not be like the other kings that ruled Israel. Instead, he would be one whose “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” In other words, he would come from the ancient line of David and thus fulfill the promises of a Messianic King who would establish the eternal dynasty promised to David in 2 Samual 7.
Even as the promise is given of the messianic king, there is also the pronouncement that God will still bring judgment upon the nation. Israel will face the discipline of God until the arrival of this messianic ruler. But when it seems God has abandoned Israel, he will bring for the king who will shepherd the people and bring peace to the land. He will establish a kingdom that will extend to the end of the world. The prophecy of the messianic king that was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus was only partially fulfilled. Verse 2 was fulfilled when Jesus was born in the humble stable. However, there is still part of this prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled. At the end of the age, Christ will return to establish his kingdom, encompassing the whole world. He will bring peace as he destroys all his enemies.
The story and prophecy of Micah, referred to in the first advent of Christ, also involves the second advent. Then he will bring judgment upon all the nations and those that have rejected him. He will then usher in the hope of all nations, and that is the establishment of peace in the land. We live with this hope. The story of Christmas, foretold by Micah, is only partially fulfilled, and there will come a time when Christ will establish his reign upon the earth. Then we, too, will sing the king's praises just as the Wisemen did when they came to search for the king of the Jews. The story of Bethlehem is not just about how a forgotten village became the center of history. It is the story of an insignificant baby who will rise to become the magnificent King of the world. It is this king who is the hope of all humanity.