As we focus on the birth of our Savior and Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) during this Christmas season, it is important to recall the number of significant prophecies that Yeshua fulfilled with His first advent. These prophecies give us answers to some critical questions about the Messiah.
“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 goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.
And they will remain,
Because at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.
This One will be our peace.
Micah 5:2 answers the question of where the Messiah would be born. “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 goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” As land belonging to the tribe of Judah, Bethlehem Ephrathah was near Jerusalem. There was also a Bethlehem in the north, belonging to the tribe of Zebulon. By the time of Micah’s prophecy in about 720 bc, the northern kingdom of Israel had been taken captive into Assyria, and Judah was about to go through the same turmoil.
Bethlehem, as the hometown of David, makes the familial connection with King David. Just as David was least among his brothers in terms of status, Bethlehem was the least honorable and one of the smallest towns in Judah. This prophecy tells us that what was possibly the most insignificant place in Judah would bring forth the most significant person for Israel, the promised Messiah. He is the One who would be ruler in Israel, the promised Son of David.
As Isaiah said in 9:6–7,
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.”
Micah’s messianic prophecy not only provided the birthplace of the Messiah, thus confirming His humanity, but it also asserts His deity. Micah wrote about one who would be born in Bethlehem, but “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Jesus stepped out of eternity and entered human history; He was sent by the Father to die for the world’s sins. But just as He is entirely God, He is also fully man, as He was born a human child in the town of Bethlehem. John wrote in His gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14).
Micah wrote that this Messiah King “will arise and shepherd [God’s] flock” (Israel) in the Lord’s “strength” and “majesty” and indeed in harmony with His character (Mic 5:4). Contrast this with the failure of Israel’s leaders in Micah’s day. Micah wrote about them in 3:1–3: They do not know justice and hate good and love evil. It is the pastoral role of Israel’s Messiah-King to lead and care for His people. His greatness ultimately guarantees their security.
“He would be born fully human, born in Bethlehem Ephrathah in Judah. He would be fully God as His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
While this seems to focus on Yeshua’s first and second coming, especially as it pertains to how the King would shepherd His flock, this passage in Micah is primarily about the Messiah’s first coming. It answers the questions of how He would come, where He would come, and why He would come. He would be born fully human, born in Bethlehem Ephrathah in Judah. He would be fully God as His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.
Finally, Micah 5:5 says, “This One will be our peace.” He would come to bring us peace with God, as He would die on that horrible Roman cross to pay the penalty for our sins. That ultimately is the message of the season. “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).