What to Expect: Micah 5:1-3, especially vs. 2: “And you, O Bethlehem, House of Ephrathah, though you are fewest in number among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the One to be ruler of Israel.” In the centuries before Jesus’ birth, God planted intimations throughout the Old Testament of what was in store for His People. Thus, by the time Jesus was born, a general consciousness existed that One anointed of God, the Messiah (the Christos in Greek), would come and improve Israel’s standing in the world. This prophecy through Micah is one of the most important of those early intimations. It gave ancient Israel seven signs that they should expect; but today, the Church is enjoying all of them in Christ.
First, Israel was to expect that, as God set about restoring His fallen creature Man to Himself, He would select a specific person: early there had been Noah “who…was well-pleasing to God” (Gn 6:9). Of Noah’s three sons, Shem was the grandsire of Abraham to whom God promised that “all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed” (Gn 12:3) through his seed. And from Abraham the blessing descended to one of Jacob’s twelve sons, Judah – One of whose grandsons should be “the expectation of the nations” (Gn 49:10). Clearly, through the Prophet Micah, God told the tribe of Judah to expect that “out of you shall come forth to me the One” (Mic 5:1). We are blessed to worship the King of Judah, God the Word, Who for our salvation became man.
Second, they were to expect that the One would come from Bethlehem of Judah, as Jesus did. Saint Augustine notes that ancient Israel knew “where the Christ was to be born.” It was like a milestone – “in Bethlehem of Judah;” yet while it “showed the way, [they] were incapable of walking along it.” We are blessed to go to Him in the cave and even worship at His Birthplace. Third, Israel expected the Messiah to be the centerpiece of God’s plan for them, and He is, “for Eden hath verily been opened at the coming forth of God,” He opened it for us all!
Fourth, God intimated that the Incarnate One would be Divine, “His goings forth were from thebeginning, even from everlasting” (vs. 1). Notice, in verse one, the shift of tense in the verbs from future – “shall come forth” – to a past, even before the beginning of time – “even from everlasting.” To the Jews this was “a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” – but now the Church knows “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:23,24).
Fifth, the Lord blessed Micah to warn ancient Israel (Mic 5:2) to expect to be given up to pain most certainly, as a result of their sins, but the specific pain of birthgiving, which would bring forth to aremnant of their brethren One Who would usher in the return of mankind to God. What can we say? “Christ is born, Glorify Him!” They expected; today, we make ready, “for the Tree of Life hath blossomed forth in the cave….whereof eating we shall live and not die.”
Sixth, Micah told them to expect the “remnant of their brothers will return” (vs. 2). In Adam and in Noah, all men are brethren. Now a remnant of Israel’s brethren is returning. The gentiles, the peoples of the earth, are flooding into Israel for the gate opened by the Child of Bethlehem. “The Maker of the entire creation [is] the Grantor of Great mercy to the world.”
Seventh, from Micah they learned that “the Lord shall stand and see…and they will dwell in the glory of the name of the Lord their God” (vs. 3). Indeed, “let us go before, O nations, and celebrate the Nativity of Christ,” singing “Rejoice, O honored Prophet [Micah], who did organize well the law of the Lord, and appeared as [a] stable, unshakeable [pillar] of faith,” mediating “the New Covenantof Christ.” Christ is born!
Wherefore, O Holy Prophet Micah, having been translated to heaven, plead with Christ to grant safety to the world and to save our souls.
hat tip: Daily Dynamis