Bible: What Does Micah 5-7 Teach Us About Jesus, "the Assyrian," True Repentance, and the Messianic Era?
Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem
Jesus, the Shepherd of Israel
To defend Jerusalem against the enemy's assaults upon the "judge of Israel," Micah calls Israel's armies ("daughter of troops"?) together (v. 1). "He" must represent an enemy leader if the "judge of Israel" is a prophet. Cf. 1 Kings 22:24; Jer. 20:2.
While Jerusalem is under siege, little Bethlehem finds honor as the birthplace ("come forth") of the eternal King (v. 2).
[Notice the contrastive "But you" introducing this town].
Yahweh will allow Israel to experience subservience (God's curse?) until the nation brings forth the Messiah king (v. 3; cf. Rev. 12:2, 5).
When He comes into the world, He will cause the "remnant of His brethren" to join the "children of Israel."
The King will act as a shepherd to His flock, and His fame will extend universally in a reign of peace (vv. 4-5a).
The Identity of "the Assyrian"
Who is "the Assyrian"?
At this point, a figure, known as the "Assyrian," enters the picture (v. 5b).
[One must keep contextually sound here in order to arrive at a legitimate interpretation.
Having a message for Micah's contemporaries, but also one for the eschaton (last time), this reference to the "Assyrian" is an example of a generic prophecy].
Clearly, Yahweh will use Israel as an instrument of His wrath to destroy his enemies.
However, a question remains: Who are these "seven shepherds and eight princely men" performing great exploits in the land of Assyria (vv. 5-6)?
"The remnant of Jacob" standing "in the midst of many peoples" Micah compares to dew, showers, and a lion/young lion.
Dew and showers represent blessing for some, but the lions definitely picture terrible judgment for others (vv. 7-9).
Such will Israel be in the future.
In the eschaton, Yahweh will mete out varied punishments "on the nations that have not obeyed" (vv. 10-15).
Military might and defenses (vv. 10-11), and religious (cultic/idolatrous) trappings (vv. 12-14) are among those traditions that will feel Yahweh's wrath (v. 15).
Attitudes of True Repentance
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Calling upon the mountains to bear witness, Yahweh brings a covenant lawsuit against Israel (vv. 1-2).
The LORD, wondering why the nation has responded so poorly to His love/redemption, phrases His questions in such a way that they defend His righteousness in the relationship.
By reviewing with Israel how He redeemed them from Egypt, provided leadership for them at that time, and protected them from the curse of Balaam, God calls them likewise to remember (vv. 3-5).
The people respond affirmatively, asking Yahweh to tell them what He expects from them now that they understand their debt (vv. 6-7).
Their offer of making sacrifices [note the increasing costliness] turns out to be unsatisfactory, primarily because it lacks an expression of the godly, internal attitudes that God prizes most highly and that He had made known to them earlier.
[Jesus points out this same omission to the Pharisees, who sacrifice animals but leave undone "the weightier provisions of the Law" (see Lk. 11:42; Mt. 23:23)].
Their repentance should bear the fruits of justice, mercy, and humble trust in God.
[The first two attitudes/actions slant toward loving one's neighbor, while the latter emphasizes one's relationship with the LORD (v. 8)].
Still seeing great injustice in the city Yahweh cries out, “Repent,” before His "Rod of punishment" strikes (v. 9).
As an example of such wrongdoing, He describes the greedy business practices that have enriched merchants at the expense of their customers (vv. 10-11).
To protect their interests, these cheats also lie and resort to violence (v. 12).
As long as they continue to live according to evil laws, God resolves to bring physical illness (v. 13), hunger, captivity and death (v. 14), and "agricultural unfulfillment" upon them (v. 15).
He will make them desolate and a reproach (v. 16).
The Prophet Micah's Ministry
Micah mournfully compares his ministry to that of gleaners who see no fruit for their labor (v. 1).
Instead of faithfulness and righteousness, the prophet witnesses treachery (v. 2), as Israel's leading men conspire to ensure the total success of their wicked enterprises (v. 3).
Because nothing good dwells within them, they will suffer punishment; their cruelty (that is, their lack of gentleness) is most evident (v. 4).
Times are such that they do not deem as trustworthy their closest companions or even their family members (vv. 5-6; cf. Matt. 10:35-36).
For this reason, the prophet resolves to turn only to "the God of my salvation" for help (v. 7).
Verse 8 continues what appear to be Micah's personal reflections concerning his ordeal.
Identifying himself with Israel, the man of God confesses his sin against the LORD.
However, he also expresses a genuine faith in Yahweh by calling Him "a light to me" and believing in God's advocacy on his behalf (vv. 8-9).
Israel's mocking enemy (''she") will meet a humiliating end (v. 10).
The Messianic Age
Verses 11-13 prophesy about the return of exiles (?) to a desolate Israel from Egypt, Assyria, and "from sea to sea."
Micah looks forward to Israel's restoration in the Messianic age when the nation will become a recipient of Yahweh's shepherdly care (vv. 14-20).
The LORD promises to show Israel "marvelous," Exodus-like works of power (v. 15), and bring the Gentiles into His and their service (vv. 16-17).
The prophet remarks about God's unique forgiveness and mercy toward His people (vv. 18-19) as well as His faithfulness to the patriarchs (v. 20).
SUMMARY QUESTIONS OF MICAH
1. What attribute of God does chapter one especially highlight?
2. What were the powerful doing to the "little people"?
3. To what are the people opposed in chapter two?
4. Of what else are they guilty?
5. Yet what does Yahweh plan to do?
6. Who else could "him who puts nothing into their mouths" be (chap. 3)?
7. According to chapter four, what will the LORD accomplish in the latter days?
8. Why should we conclude that 5:2 refers to the birth of the divine Messiah?
9. According to chapter six, what does the LORD require of His people?
10. What kind of success did Micah see in his ministry?
11. To what does Micah compare the ‘’remnant of Jacob?’’
12. Who may be the Assyrian (chapter 5)?
13. To whom did Micah compare his ministry (chapter seven)?
14. During what era of Israelite history did Micah preach?
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