Rise of the King
Main Idea: When Messiah reigns on earth, Israel will be restored and cured.
- I. Israel Will Be Restored When Messiah Reigns on Earth (5:1-9).
- II. Israel Will Be Cured When Messiah Reigns on Earth (5:10-15).
- A. Israel will be cured from its false sense of security (5:10-11).
- B. Israel will be cured from its false sources of counsel (5:12).
- C. Israel will be cured from its false symbols of worship (5:13-14).
- D. Israel will be cured from its enemies (5:15).
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to be rescued? When I was a child, I was spending time with my dad in a forest near our home. It was winter in Pennsylvania, and a thick snow blanketed the woods. I began exploring and soon lost sight of my dad. As I walked, the ground gave way beneath me, and I fell into large hole once filled with the roots of a mighty tree. I landed on my back, but because of the narrowing of the hole at the bottom, my arms were pinned against my sides. I couldn’t move at all! From where I was I could look up into the trees of the forest. Snowflakes were drifting slowly down on me as I lay helpless. Strangely, though, I wasn’t afraid. Why? I had hope. I knew that my dad was somewhere in the woods, and I knew that he would come looking for me. I felt great joy when I saw his smiling face peering down into the hole at me. He reached down and pulled me out. Rescued and restored, my dad and I continued our journey through the trees.
Micah began his book with dire prophecies about the impending judgment of God on the nations of Israel and Judah. As we studied chapters 1–3, we saw that God was preparing to judge them for three specific failings: (1) they had rejected His covenant, (2) they had rejected His commands, and (3) they had rejected His counsel. Despite Micah’s warnings, however, the people continued on in their rebellion, encouraged by the hope-filled messages of the false prophets around them.
In chapter 4 Micah’s book made a sudden turn. Micah encouraged the righteous remnant in both Israel and Judah to hold on to hope because God has a future plan to rescue and restore them. One day the Messiah will reign on earth, and Israel will receive the complete fulfillment of Abraham’s covenant promises. Micah continues to develop this important, hope-producing theme in chapter 5.
Israel Will Be Restored When Messiah Reigns on Earth
In this chapter we find a beautiful picture of the rise of the promised Messiah King. It is an expansion of 4:7, which reads, “Then the Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from this time on and forever.” The promised King of Israel will be God Himself! In this chapter Micah revealed additional truth about Israel’s future King. First, in verses 1-9 he revealed that Israel will be restored when the King appears at the end of the age.
This passage contains one of the most famous verses in the entire Old Testament, indeed in the whole Bible. It is a verse we often read during our Christmas celebrations (v. 2). It is important because Micah was bringing clarity to the identity of the coming King who had been promised to Israel. This is significant because the Old Testament identifies several criteria that the future Messiah must meet. One of them states that He must be a descendent of King David. In the Davidic covenant God promised David that he would have an heir to sit on his throne forever. David was from Bethlehem, and Micah revealed that his future heir, the promised eternal King, would be born there as well. Micah described Bethlehem as being “small among the clans of Judah.” In other words, it’s an insignificant community. When they named the major cities of Israel in the Old Testament, Bethlehem didn’t make the list. Yet out of this insignificant place would come the most significant person ever born on earth, the Messiah of Israel!
He will be the One who comes on behalf of God to be “ruler over Israel.” He won’t be just any ruler, however, because His “origin is from antiquity, from eternity.” When we get to verses 4-5 we see this beautiful picture of the way Messiah will rule over a united Israel: “He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of Yahweh, in the majestic name of Yahweh His God. They will live securely, for then His greatness will extend to the ends of the earth. He will be their peace.” This is an amazing promise, which continues the teaching we observed in 4:6-8,13. But when we read these verses in chapter 5, we understand that this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. It still looms before us in the future, waiting on the second coming of King Jesus.
Because we have the benefit of New Testament revelation and historical hindsight, we understand that hidden within the mystery of God’s redemptive plan for the world is a plan to send the Messiah in two distinct advents. The Messiah would come the first time to be the Savior of the world and the second time to be the King of the world. The prophet Micah may have been unaware of this truth when he wrote his book, however. This was an issue that many prophets wrestled with as they revealed God’s prophecies. Remember, according to Paul the advent of Messiah as Savior was hidden from the prophets (Eph 3:1-13). As a result, when the prophets saw glimpses of the coming Messiah, they may have anticipated that He would establish His kingdom at His first appearing.
It’s easy to understand why the prophets would struggle with this. God allowed them to have glimpses into the future, but for them it was like looking at a mountain range off in the distance. We can relate to them in this. From miles away the mountain peaks all look very close to one another. Stand on one of those peaks, however, and you will notice that deep canyons or vast valleys separate them—they’re really not close together at all. When the prophets saw events in the future, they had no way of knowing the time gaps between them. And in the case of the Messiah, God shielded from the prophets the knowledge that He was going to send the Messiah not once, but twice, and there would be a lengthy period of time between the two.
This is the reason many Jews today continue to reject Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. He doesn’t fit their template for Messiah for two specific reasons. First, they read the Old Testament promises about a great king who will defeat the enemies of Israel and reign in Jerusalem, and Jesus didn’t do that. Second, they struggle with the fact that Jesus died by crucifixion. The Old Testament says that every person who hangs on a tree is cursed (Deut 21:23), so they reject Him. This is why Paul says that the death of Jesus by crucifixion is a “stumbling block” to the Jews (1 Cor 1:23). All of these objections are rooted, ultimately, in the mistaken belief that Messiah will only come one time, and when He does, it will be as a conquering King.
And yet, the coming of Messiah as Suffering Servant is one of the most detailed prophecies in the Old Testament. As I shared above, it is the great mystery of the Bible. The mystery of the gospel is this: Only the death of God’s Son could fully atone for our sin. Because we are sinners, we cannot experience God’s forgiveness without a sacrifice for our sin. In the Old Testament law, substitute sacrifice was at the heart of worship. The people had to bring sacrifices to be forgiven because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22). Every year on the Day of Atonement the high priest would enter the most holy place to make a sacrifice for the sins of the people (Lev 16). This sacrifice was incomplete, however. God Himself stated, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4). In order for us to experience a once-for-all forgiveness, we needed someone to provide us with a once-for-all sacrifice. That is exactly what Jesus did for us (Heb 10:5-18)! He became the perfect substitute-sacrifice for our sin.
One of Micah’s contemporaries was a prophet named Isaiah. In his book we find examples of both the Suffering Servant and the conquering King. In Isaiah 53 we find the picture of the Suffering Servant. It continues to amaze me that anyone can read this text and not see a prophetic description of the death of Jesus. Notice verses 3-6,12:
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. . . .
Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.
This is a picture of the Messiah as Suffering Servant, the One who came to pay the penalty for sin by offering His own life as a substitute sacrifice. Jesus, God’s Messiah, came the first time to atone for the sins of the world. He was raised from the dead to demonstrate that the Father had accepted His sacrifice for sin, and He ascended to heaven where He makes intercession for us at the right hand of God as our great high priest (Heb 7:25; 10:19-23). He is the Savior.
Then comes the large gap in time. His second coming has yet to occur. But when He comes, He will keep all of the promises communicated by Micah and the other prophets. Then, and only then, will everything on this planet be under the control and leadership of King Jesus. Isaiah had more to say about this:
For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this. (Isa 9:6-7)
In these verses we see both “mountain peaks” mentioned at the same time. The first peak, the incarnation of Jesus in Bethlehem, is mentioned in verse 6, “A child will be born for us, a son will be given to us.” It won’t be just any child. The son given will be none other than the Son of God. This is the initiation of the ministry of the Suffering Servant. But we see the second, more distant peak referenced as well. “He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.” Here, Isaiah references the second coming of Jesus, when He will take His rightful place on the throne of David as conquering King and reign forever.
In the early verses of Micah 5, then, we have this very clear picture of the first advent of the Messiah. God’s own Son, God the Word, the second member of the Trinity, will put on human flesh and be born in Bethlehem. We see also a very clear picture about the second advent of the Messiah. Jesus will return to unite and reign over Israel as her forever, conquering King. The key verse that splits these two advents is verse 3, “Therefore, He will abandon them until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of His brothers will return to the people of Israel.” Verse 2 tells us that Messiah will be born in Bethlehem during His first advent. Verse 4 reveals that He will return in the future to be Israel’s conquering King. In between, as verse 3 reveals, there will be a season of abandoning that will be a precursor to a large revival within the nation. This will prepare the way for the return of King Jesus.
Israel Will Be Cured When Messiah Reigns on Earth
As we continue to read in chapter 5, we notice a second truth about the work of the Messiah at the Second Coming: Israel will be cured when the King appears at the end of the age. Micah began with the words “In that day.” What day is that? It’s the day when King Jesus is reigning on earth—when all of God’s promises to Israel are being fulfilled (5:7-9). He was talking about the second coming of Jesus and His subsequent reign on earth. When that event occurs, Israel and the church will be united together as the bride of Christ. The perfection of this union will cure forever Israel’s rebellion against God’s covenant. In verses 10-15 Micah identified four ways that this will happen.
Israel Will Be Cured from Its False Sense of Security (5:10-11)
For years Israel and Judah had been trusting in their kings, armies, fortified cities, and political alliances. Sadly, they trusted in their own military might rather than in God, who had promised through covenant to protect them. At Armageddon, Israel will be completely defenseless. Only the return of King Jesus will spare the Jewish remnant from annihilation. When Jesus reigns as King on earth, His people will no longer need armies to defend them. In fact, they will convert their weapons into farming implements (4:3). King Jesus will destroy all of the things that tempted Israel to trust in herself.
Israel Will Be Cured from Its False Sources of Counsel (5:12)
God said, “I will remove sorceries from your hands, and you will not have any more fortune-tellers.” Israel and Judah had long since given up trusting in the counsel of God’s Word. They were prepared to seek advice from the most unlikely of places, including the oracles of false gods and the counsel of demons. How ironic that the people who were in covenant relationship with the one true God would abandon Him for lies. Can you imagine how that made God feel? When King Jesus reigns, all such false counsel will be destroyed from the earth.
Israel Will Be Cured from Its False Symbols of Worship (5:13-14)
Micah told the people that a day was coming when God would destroy every form of false worship from the earth. Israel and Judah had struggled with idolatry since the final days of King Solomon’s reign. They will not face that threat during the reign of King Jesus. Israel will never again be tempted to worship anyone but the one true God; all false gods will be destroyed from the earth.
Israel Will Be Saved from Its Enemies (5:15)
God said, “I will take vengeance in anger and wrath against the nations that have not obeyed Me.” God is serious about what He will do for Israel at the end of the age. Today Israel continues to battle its enemies, despite its desire for peaceful coexistence with surrounding nations. But when King Jesus returns to earth, every nation on earth will bow to His rule, and the people of God will finally enjoy the peace of God.
The people of Israel and Judah had placed their hope in numerous things besides God: their government, culture, religion, and national identity. Despite the fact that Micah talked in terms of national consequences, in reality, those national consequences were a byproduct of individual choices. When we read Micah 5, we’re reminded that the majority of individual Jews in Israel and Judah had found their personal identity in a lifestyle that rejected God’s covenant, commands, and counsel. As a result, they did not find their identity in their position as God-fearers; they found their identity in their participation with secular culture.
Similarly, many of the people found their identity in a lifestyle of idolatry. They embraced foreign gods and the fleshly worship rituals that accompanied them. Others sold their souls in the pursuit of financial gain. They defrauded and stole property from numerous victims who did not have the resources to fight them. Still others found their significance in their position, whether political or religious. They were quick to use those positions of influence to improve their own affluence. They took bribes and were quick to bend the truth for their own advantage. In short, they found their identities in groups and activities that were anti-God. These individual choices led to both personal and national judgment.
When we consider the influences on their culture and the significance of their choices related to culture, it becomes apparent that we can choose to act in the same way in our own lives. Like Israel and Judah, we are tempted to worship idols at the expense of the one true God. Of course, we wouldn’t call ourselves idolaters, nor would we believe that our activities rise to that level. However, we are just as likely to worship idols as they were. When we let people, activities, possessions, hobbies, or money compete with our allegiance to God, we are creating an idol in our hearts. If we love anything more than God, it’s an idol. And unless we tear down that idol ourselves, God will tear it down for us, just like He did for Israel and Judah (Exod 20:5).
We’re also prone to letting greed capture our hearts. The business people and the political and religious leaders spent much of their time scheming about ways to make more money. They were willing to resort to outright theft in order to multiply their financial resources. We, too, can let greed capture our hearts. We may be tempted to steal from an employer. We may be tempted to cheat on our taxes. We may be tempted to take advantage of someone financially, just because we’re in a position to do so. We may rob God of His tithe because we want to spend the money on ourselves. Then not only does the kingdom of God suffer from a lack of resources, but also we lose the promise of God’s financial favor in our own lives. In all of these ways, greed may become a besetting sin. When that happens, pain is sure to follow (1 Tim 6:6-10).
Finally, we may be tempted to seek a position for personal gain rather than the well-being of others. Many people want to be politicians because of the perks that may accompany the position. They are more interested in self-preservation and self-service than loving their neighbors. Every decision ultimately hinges on the perceived benefit it may afford them. This isn’t limited to politics, however. It can be true in the business world too, where promotion leads to perks. Similarly, it can happen in the church, when pastors lead in order to benefit from the labors of others. This is why elders are to meet the criteria and ethics established by the apostles (1 Tim 3:1-7; 1 Pet 5:1-7).
Every one of us must make a decision about where we will find our identity—in Christ or culture. We cannot find our identity in both; we must choose. Culture says, “Indulge yourself, serve yourself, and save yourself.” Jesus says, “Deny [yourself], take up [your] cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). We must choose between these two identities. The majority of the people of Israel and Judah made the wrong choice, and they experienced God’s discipline in their lives. We can avoid that fate, however, when we live in the reality of the truth that hope is found in our identity in Christ—not through an identity informed by culture.
Reflect and Discuss
- Israel has always struggled to accept the concept of Messiah as Savior. Scripture reveals that Jesus the Messiah came first as the Suffering Servant. Read Isaiah 53 and identify the parallels with the crucifixion of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 26–27.
- Israel has always accepted the concept of Messiah as conquering King. Read Isaiah 9; Matthew 24–25; and Revelation 19 and identify the mission of Jesus when He returns to earth at the second coming.
- Paul describes the gospel as a mystery. Read Ephesians 3. Why did God choose to keep the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah a secret?
- Micah 5:1-9 contains a double-fulfillment prophecy. Read Psalms 2:7-12; 22; Jeremiah 31:31-34; and Joel 2:28-32. How does the New Testament reveal that these are double-fulfillment prophecies?
- The Jews struggle to reconcile the crucifixion of Jesus with the claim that He is the Messiah. Read Deuteronomy 21:22-23 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. How do these verses add clarity to our understanding of Jesus the Messiah as the Suffering Servant?
- Micah 5:3 refers to a time during which the Jews would be abandoned by God because of their unbelief. Read Romans 11. What does it reveal about this time of abandonment and when it will come to a close?
- When King Jesus returns, Israel will be cured from their temptation to place their faith in false sources of security. Read Psalm 20:7. How are you similarly tempted, and what is the cure in your own life?
- When King Jesus returns, Israel will be cured from their temptation to place their faith in false sources of counsel. Read Proverbs 3:5-6. How are we similarly tempted, and what is the cure in our own life?
- When King Jesus returns, Israel will be cured from their temptation to place their faith in false symbols of worship. Read Exodus 32–33. How are we similarly tempted, and what is the cure in our own life?
- Israel continually struggled to find its identity within its relationship to God. Often we struggle with the same thing. Read Galatians 2:20. What does this verse reveal about our identity as Christians?