Micah Shows The Desperate Need For The Messiah - Micah - 4:9-5:6 part one
As we begin let’s take a moment to follow Micah’s flow of thought starting back in Micah 4:9. Micah has been giving judgment oracles against Zion and then following each of them up with a glimpse into how the Lord will redeem them from these situations.
Micah begins by saying, “Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor? Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon.” (9-10)
Immediately these words are followed up by words of comfort and hope for the people of God, “There you shall be rescued; there the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.” (10b)
There are several encouraging things for God’s people in these verses. First, God can rescue His people from the strongest of enemies. He can deliver them from Egypt, from the Assyrians, from the Babylonians, and from the hand of Satan and from death. Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” There is no foe who can overcome God when He acts to save His people.
Secondly, there is no place too distant from which the LORD cannot save his people - “There you shall be rescued.” He will rescue His people out of every distant land and from every nation, every city, out of every clan and from within every family. There is no place that is hidden from the Lord. There is no place too far for Him that He cannot save.
Thirdly, notice that the LORD will redeem His people. He can pay our debt. He can pay the ransom that is required of our sins which have sold us into slavery. The cost to redeem God’s people is too high for any of us to pay. Even if we were to gather all of our resources together we could not free even one person from the bonds of slavery to sin. But God can save and redeem. He has the means to save, He has the will to save, and as we will see today He has the plan to save His people.
The LORD will not be able to save only a few lucky ones. He will save all of His people from the hand of their enemies. They will not escape on their own. They will not be freed because their captors were distracted. No, the LORD redeems us from the hand of our enemy. He came into the jail cell to rescue Peter in Acts 12 despite the fact that he was shackled to guards and imprisoned behind iron bars. He rescued Lot from the gates of Sodom on the very day that they were destroyed. He rescued the thief while he was dying on the cross.
[Continuing in the context of Micah]
In Micah 4:11 Micah gives another judgment oracle saying, “Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, ‘Let her be defiled, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.’” Words such as these can be terrifying when a kings scouts return and say that they have heard such words; but how much more terrifying would these words be if you were to hear them with your own ears by the enemy.
Hezekiah heard such words in 2 Kings 18. Assyria came to Jerusalem and said to all within Jerusalem these words, “Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the King of Assyria.’”
Upon hearing these words we are told of King Hezekiah’s response, “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD.” (19:1) Others joined the king there and Hezekiah said, “This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace...” (19:3)
In all of this Hezekiah hopes that the Lord will hear what has been said by the Assyrians and that He would have mercy upon them. The Lord does see and He speaks these words through Isaiah, “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.” (19:6-7)
After Micah speaks of those who would want to defile Zion, he also gives a word of encouragement to the people saying, “But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand, His plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.” (4:12-13) I love the fact that the LORD is doing all of this: His thoughts, His plan, He has gathered, I will make (2x).
I wanted to mention this context as we come into chapter five because the same thing is happening in this chapter. Micah 5:1 begins with another expression of judgment and another warning. And then it is followed up by the rest of the chapter being a message of hope and encouragement. Micah will give a further revelation as to what the thoughts and plan of God will be in the future.
Micah 5:1 says, “Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek.”
What is Micah saying to Judah with these words? Let’s first look at the words, ‘Now muster your troops...” We don’t use the word ‘muster’ much anymore. This word means to assemble, to collect, to convene, to mobilize, to rally, to round up, etc.
An example of how this word is used is when Judah fell to the Babylonians and were taken into captivity. We find these words in 2 Kings 25:18-19, “And the captain of the guard (of Babylon) took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the threshold, and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king’s council who were found in the city, and the secretary of the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land who were found in the city.”
When I read the words, “Now muster your troops”, I wondered what Micah is doing here? Is he like Paul Revere who rode through the land shouting for the people to prepare for battle? Is he filling the role of the commander of the army in 2 Kings 25 when that man sought to muster the people of the land to fight the Babylonians?
Sometimes a prophet would tell the king to engage in battle. Sometimes the prophet would tell the king that they should not go to battle. What is Micah asking the people to do here in this text?
[Consider 2 Chronicles 18. The king of Israel, Ahab, and the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, join together to go to war with Syria. Jehoshaphat asks the king of Israel to inquire of the LORD if they will be victorious. All the prophets, 400 men, unanimously say that they should go to battle and that they will be victorious. Jehoshaphat asks if there is another of whom they can inquire. There is a man named Micaiah who was sent for and when the messengers come to him they ask him to speak favorably to the king. Micaiah says that he will only speak what God says too.
The king asks Micaiah if they should go to battle of refrain? Surprisingly Micaiah says, “Go up in triumph; they will be given into your hand.” (18:14) The king seems to know that Micaiah is toying with them and insists that he tells him the truth. So the prophet says, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’” (16)
It seems to me that in Micah 5:1 the prophet is doing something similar. Micah is not telling the people to gather so that they might win the coming battle. Instead, in Micah 5:3 he tells them that they will be given up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth. Instead, Micah is simply addressing them in a way that their evil hearts already are so prone to do – they are a people who chooses war over peace.
Let me take some time to try to show you what I mean.
In verse one the verb ‘muster’ is a reflexive verb and could be translated, “now muster yourselves you troops, O daughter of troops”. It is a verb that speaks of an individuals responsibility to gather themselves together.
There is a sense in which every christian is to “muster” themselves for battle. For example, in Ephesians 6:10-20 we are to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. We are to take up the whole armor of God so that we will be able to stand in the evil day. However, this is not what those of Micah’s day were doing. There are many people who seek to assemble apart from the grace and power of God. Micah speaks to this people as if this is how every battle is to be won.
This is not always the case for the believer. Among the LORD’s people it is peace that is achieved by the Lord that is achief characteristic of their gathering. We see this in our text today.
Micah 5:4 – And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.
Micah 4:3 – He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Secondly, we ought to notice that when Micah says, ‘O daughter of troops’, he is making a judgment upon the character of Judah. We see this in other places in scripture. For example, Jesus called two brothers among his disciples the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17). They probably were given this name by Jesus because of times like are recorded in Luke 9:51-56 when Jesus was not received into a Samaritan village and James and John said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them? But Jesus turned and rebuked them.”
Similarly, Micah is using these words as a way of exposing the character of this people. They are a war-like people who lives and acts like they are a people who are continually at war. They are a people who assembles in troops for war! We have seen this in previous texts:
Micah 2:1 - “Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.”
Micah 3:1-3 - “Is it not for you to know justice? - you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin from off my people and their flesh from off their bones, who eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off of them, and break their bones in pieces and chop them up like meat in a pot, like flesh in a cauldron.”
This people, who would be characterized as: war-like, battle hardened, hostile and combatant; will now face an enemy who is more powerful and war-like than they are. And they will strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. Some believe this happened to Hezekiah when Assyria came against Jerusalem. Others say this would be fulfilled when Zedekiah was king and the Babylonians overthrew Judah and took the survivors into captivity. (2 Kings 25:6 – Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him. The slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.”)
In some ways it seems like the humiliation of the king of Judah would be done repeatedly until the fall of Judah. You see this as you read 2 Kings. The last four kings of Judah were all humiliated in this manner.
Jehoahaz who reigned after Josiah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Pharaoh put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 23:31-33)
Pharaoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king. Pharoah changed his name to Jehoiakim. He too did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. The LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites and bands of Ammorites against Judah to destroy them as the Lord had spoken by the servants and by the prophets. (2 Kings 23:36 – 24:7)
Jehoiachin reigned next in Judah and he too was carried off into captivity by they king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. (2 Kings 24:8-17)
Lastly Zedekiah reigned in Judah. He rebelled against the king of Babylon and his sons were killed and he was made blind and taken into captivity. (2 Kings 25:1-7)
None of these kings could keep from being humiliated and humbled by other nations. They could not protect themselves from this abuse; therefore, they would not be able to protect the people that they were to rule over and to protect.
J.A. Motyer says, “Micah’s description of such darkness, which in his day was about to envelop Jerusalem, brings despair as deep as the hope and reassurance brought by his description of a renewed Jerusalem. In order to live with such a tension, the people of God need an altogether different calibre of leader. Micah now proceeds to announce that leader’s coming.” (p.157) It is this new leader that Micah will begin to discuss in the coming verses.
As a result of all of this that we have read in Micah 4:9 – 5:1 we now see the need for a new kind of ruler that is promised in the rest of this chapter. Micah promises that this new ruler will come from the insignificant city of Bethlehem. This ruler will be the shoot that springs forth from the stump of David (Is. 11:1).
He will be a ruler in Israel
His coming forth is from old and from ancient days.
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD
He will shepherd the flock in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God
He will be great to the ends of the earth and they will be secure
He will be their peace