Awaiting the Shepherd King

 Micah 5:1 does not begin the next section–but rather continues what chapter four was teaching…  If you want to catch up on our Micah series, click here.

So the rod that strikes the judge on the cheek will be striking the present king.  In this culture striking the cheek was one of the most disrespectful actions toward an enemy.  So when Assyria strikes the cheek it is shameful, disgraceful; all honor and glory are gone as Israel and Judah are finally in exile.  


Verse two opens with this transition word, and opens the next section of Micah’s preaching.  But! A better ruler is coming!  One who will rule “for Me” says YHWH.  This King will be perfectly in line with true justice, He will act according to true goodness.  

He will come from the least expected place–too little to be numbered.  Yet His days are from eternity, He is not finite.   As the tribes originally received their inheritance, they were numbered. The tribes and cities were mentioned in several other passages–but this town, the one from which the King is coming, is to little to be mentioned. But not too little for God to notice, and to work among!

Verse three–they must wait, ‘until the time.’  All of our times are in His hand, and this makes it clear–this piece of history teaches us beautifully how intricate and patient and good His purposes are.  (Remember 4:12?)  

She who is in labor…”She” is both Israel, who will be struggling under Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Rome in the future, as well as Mary who will very literally be in physical labor.  Cf Isaiah 7:13-14; Rev 12:1-6.

A reminder of the remnant!

He will arise and Shepherd His flock in the strength of YHWH, in the majesty of the name of YHWH 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 5:4

Future–this is a King that would not come to His people in the immediate future. We know He came in the strength of the LORD, see Luke 4!  We know He is our peace, Ephesians 2:12-14, Romans 5:1-5.  We know His work is not yet complete, He is seated on His throne and will be until all His enemies are defeated (See Hebrews 10:12-13).  

We will come back to this Shepherd theme again (seen first in Micah 2, and again in Micah 7:14).  The Shepherd is a picture of Royalty, Kingship, Care and protection and feeding.  Turn to Isaiah 40:11 and Ezek 34:11-25, and spend some time pondering what these passages reveal about God’s character, His heart, His purposes.  

“They will remain!  He gives them eternal life, they shall never perish and none can snatch them out of His hand.  He grants fortitude and perseverance; He will keep us.  

Verse 5,  The Assyrians are coming to invade and trample; yet God will grant shepherds/leaders to His people.  Think ahead to Jeremiah, to others who are faithful during the exile, to Daniel and his companions, to Ezra and Nehemiah who lead them out of the exile to rebuild.  This promise brings hope that God’s people can never fall into the hands of the enemy and have God’s purposes thwarted.  Even in exile He is working towards redemption, His purpose from eternity stands.

Verse 6 He will deliver us from the Assyrian when he attacks:  They can expect redemption, deliverance; they will be delivered though they spend years facing the consequences of their sin.  Their deliverance will come at the end of the time God is planning for the purification of the land.

Refreshing Dew, Roaring Lion

Verse 7-9  Two metaphors are given, for how the remnant will be perceived by their neighbors in Assyria, and later Babylon. Then, scattered as dew.  May through October were dry, and dew was necessary for summer crops.  God’s scattered remnant are as the dew in this dry period.  God’s plan and purpose (4:12) is to make His scattered people refreshing and life-giving where they go, as He purges evil from the land and from their hearts.  Who sends the dew and the rain?  So who sends the remnant on this mission?   

Dew, but also like a lion; but to whom?  To the rebellious they appear as a lion, full of power and judgment, roaring and about to pounce.   (Much like Egyptians eventually dreaded the site of so many Israelites in their land.).

God’s plan is not to destroy, but to purify His people.  This has always been His plan, from sending Adam and Eve out of the garden, to Christ coming to purify for Himself a people for His own possession. And His purposes also include giving purpose to our lives, such as He is doing with the remnant here.  

Cutting Off, Purifying

Verse 10-14  In that day, what day?  The Day of their exile.  He will cut off from among them all that is contrary to godliness, contrary to goodness, contrary to His glory.  He will cut off horses and chariots (remember Micah 1:13?)  they had trusted in them though commanded not to–Deut 17:16.  He will destroy the cities that were built with violence and bloodshed (remember 3:10?).  He will tear down fortifications that give false security.  

He will also cut off sorceries and fortune-tellers.  Sidebar.  Why?  What’s wrong with a little magic?  I was listening to a podcast recently that discussed whether Christians should be reading books about magic. Their main point was that “the word ‘magic’ doesn’t appear in the Old Testament, so we have no direction on what to do…”  Beloved, this is not how we know good and evil, and what is pleasing to the LORD, by merely looking up keywords.   There is no place in the Christian life for usurping God’s power.  There is no place  for finding power or knowledge apart from God in the Kingdom of God.  What did Satan tempt Eve with?  Knowledge apart from God, seeking her own welfare (power) apart from God.  We ought to learn, and choose not to glorify anything that raises itself above God.  Lewis does a great job with his Naria series, showing the evil of the white witch.  Harry Potter on the other hand makes us long for magic to make something of ourselves and to defeat enemies.  There is no one verse that will show this to you–it is abiding in His word that we see this, appreciate this. What happened when the gospel was preached in Ephesus? They burned their magic books. The Spirit led them to this–not legalism, not overreacting. God does not want us to be delighted in power and identity and purpose apart from Him–our lives are hid in Christ. End sidebar.

Carved images, pillars, cut down.  Not repurposed!  Not resculpted.  Not used for rebuilding the city later.  He redeems us, but not our idols.  He transforms us, but not any jot or tittle of false worship.  They will be rooted out–no false root left in the garden of our hearts.  And again–they are reminded that their cities will be destroyed.  

God’s Wrath is Real

Verse 15  Vengeance, anger, wrath.  Toward those who do not obey.  God’s anger is righteous.  Why?  His vengeance is good and righteous; how so? You must wrestle with these questions beloved.

Sit in these passages for a while: Romans 1:18-21; 2:5-6; 12:17-21; 2 Thess 1:4-10;  “The wrath of God is revealed”  present tense.  This is what God is currently doing, present tense. “God’s providential abandoning of a society to degradation and self-destruction is a public revelation of his wrath.”   “These cosmic labor pains (Matthew 24:6-8; Romans 8:20-22) are the horsemen of Christ sent out into all the earth (Rev. 6).” (Beeke, Reformed Systematic Theology, Crossway: 2020; pg. 200).

One scholar lists out 470 references to God’s wrath!  “Holy hatred or affectionate will to punish all who transgress his law.  Lev. 26:28  Zeph 1:15, Isaiah 13:9

We do not glorify God when we deny His wrath, hide His vengeance, or change His words concerning His hated and destruction of sin.  The most recent popular source to deny God’s wrath, and to declare that hell is a human construct, is Bible Project. I understand the desire to make God’s word “palatable” to the culture by turning it into a comic strip with lessons, but this is not how the Gospel ‘needs’ to be spread. When we dismember God’s Word, we are not doing a good thing. When we take away, we are doing a damnable deed. God does not need us to join the false prophets by hiding His wrath. He will send forth His word, His gospel is still active!

because of the hope reserved for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,  and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.  

Colossians 1:5-8

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