Micah 4:1-5:5 • God’s Unexpected Way of Working


One of the ironic things about the way God works is that it’s often misunderstood – or at least not fully understood – by EITHER party, those being judged as well as those being saved. Just as the people of Noah’s time could not understand the judgment of the great flood, neither did Noah fully understand God’s plan of salvation to come through that event. Israel and Egypt had quite differing views as to what God was doing in His bringing Israel out of captivity to their own land, yet neither seemed to “get it”. Examples go on and on of neither side quite understanding precisely how God used them or to what He would ultimately bring about. Those who thought they were the winners and those believing themselves to be the losers often found those roles switched over time as God revealed His complete will. Is your faith based on how things feel at the moment, or on the One who ultimately works all things out according to His will?

Read 4:1-5

Q: In the first 3 chapters of Micah, God established the grounds for judgment of the whole of Israel. What does He establish in this chapter?

A: The restoration of Israel.

Q: What will be specifically established within Israel according to these verses?

A: The “house of the Lord” will be established in Jerusalem, becoming the capital and center of the entire world.

Q: What will be the main attraction of the re-established “house of the God of Jacob”?

Everyone will not just learn but apply His Word to their life.

Q: How will things be drastically different once life on earth is established according to God’s Word and ways?

In other words, all physical needs will be satisfied.

Q: What will be the ultimate, spiritual result of Christ’s work and reign on earth?

A: “...we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.” In a word, faithfulness: All spiritual needs will be satisfied.

Point: God begins by describing what the end result is going to be – living according to His Word as opposed to how the world now lives – before illuminating how He will accomplish it.

Read 4:6-5:1

Q: How does the description of Israel as a “lame” remnant contrast to the opening verses concerning restoration to God’s Word?

A: The word “lame” signifies someone who walks sideways; it describes those who deviate from the ways of God. To be healed of lameness in this context is to be restored to obedience to God’s Word and ways.

Q: According to v.7, when did this happen?

A: It has not occurred yet, but is yet to come. This is what we have come to call Christ’s “Millennial Reign”. (See Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 7:14, 27; Luke 1:32-33; Revelation 11:15.)

Q: In v.8, what does a “tower” have to do with shepherding?

A: In ancient times, for a particularly large flock and pasture, a tower was built from which to oversee and guard them. It’s a reference to Israel’s eventual role of shepherd/overseer of the nations represented as the flock. It’s a picture of God’s Word being taught and handed down throughout Christ’s entire kingdom.

Point: The establishment of Christ’s kingdom begins with establishment of His Word. Is this how you expected the kingdom to begin?

Q: What is the symbolism of a woman in labor actually teaching?

A: Although there is great rejoicing at the birth of a child, it comes with a price of painful consequences. They will eventually rejoice at God’s restoration, but must pay the price for their sin in the mean time..

Q: What is the significance of “dwell in the field”?

A: Whereas a city was generally a fortified place of greater safety, an open field affords no such protection.

Q: What will be the “pain of childbirth” – the consequences of their sin? Why is this quite remarkable coming from Micah?

A: They will be captives in Babylon. This is remarkable because during Micah’s time the dominant power was Assyria. God allowed Micah to look beyond the present to the distant future.

Point: God’s judgment may have begun by using Assyria against the northern kingdom called “Samaria” by Micah, but the complete work of judgment against the whole of Israel would be accomplished by Babylon who was yet to rise to prominence. It was not Assyria that was used as expected during Micah’s time, but Babylon to come.

Q: On the one hand, v.9-10 explains how Israel doesn’t understand how God is working for their ultimate restoration. How do v.11-12 explain how all the other nations don’t actually understand how God is working for their ultimate judgment?

A: They “gloat” over Israel’s temporary fall, believing that God’s judgment of Israel has led to a permanent separation between God and His people. However, they don’t understand His ultimate purposes whereby He’ll use these events to not only bring about the restoration of His people, but judgment of the very nations.

Q: How is v.13 somewhat ironic when compared to Israel’s own judgment?

A: Whereas these nations were used by God to exact His judgment on Israel, Israel’s restoration will result in them being turned into God’s tool of judgment on those very nations, and ultimately their restoration.

Point: Just as neither side properly understands God’s purposes of judgment of Israel and the role of the nations in it, neither do they properly understand Israel’s role in the restoration of God’s kingdom and the role of the nations in it.

Q: Against whom does v.5:1 reveal the real battle is being waged?

A: The real battle is being waged against Christ, the “judge of Israel”. In reality, the physical warfare to take place on earth is a reflection of their spiritual warfare.

Point: Neither side seems to understand that what is taking place physically is a reflection of what is happening spiritually.

Read 5:2-5a

Q: Why does Bethlehem have “Ephrathah” appended to its name?

A: There were actually 2 towns called “Bethlehem”, one in Zebulun and the other in Judah. This identifies the one in Judah outside of Jerusalem where Christ was born.

Q: What is the meaning of “too little to be among the clans”?

A: The land was apportioned down to the thousands, over which a leader was appointed. Bethlehem was so small that it was not listed in Joshua’s conquest of Canaan and subsequently incurred no need for a leader. It’s quite ironic when one considers that the ultimate Leader will come from there.

Q: How do we know from v.2 that the Messiah is not just an earthly leader like, say, Moses, but divine in nature, the very Son of God?

A: “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity”. This is the strongest possible way for the Hebrew language to state that although the Messiah will come in the form of a man, He is equal to God and formed from eternity.

Point: God chose to effect His will through sending His Son in the flesh, yet still retaining His divine nature.

Q: Although God sends the Messiah to Israel, what happens to them?

A: Because they reject Him at His First Coming, He “will give them up” for a time, symbolized by the price of childbirth which must be paid before the arrival of a child as previously alluded to. They will finally accept Him at His Second Coming.

Point: What Israel has struggled with throughout history and even to this day is that it is One Messiah and two comings. They expect the Messiah to come just once, but He is not working according to their expectations, and they are therefore paying a price until they conform to His.

Q: When will Israel be restored to God’s kingdom through the Messiah?

A: When they accept Him at His Second Coming. There is no peace without the Prince of Peace.

Overall Application

The nations of Assyria and Babylon, supported by many other nations, did not understand the role they were playing first in God’s judgment of them, and later of Israel’s restoration back to the land and its relationship with God. This error was repeated by the Greek kingdoms of the Intertestamental period of the Macabees, Jesus’ time by the Romans, and will have a final, ultimate fulfillment in the End Times.