Scripture: Micah 5:2
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
In this devotional series, we have examined Micah 5:2 in order to learn three specific clues that identify the Messiah. Micah foretold that the Messiah would 1) be born in Bethlehem and 2) be a ruler. Now we will look at the third messianic clue in Micah’s prophecy.
The third clue is that the Messiah would have ancient origins. Micah describes a ruler, born in Bethlehem, “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” When we hear the word gospel, we think of the first four books of the New Testament but, interestingly enough, the first mention of the gospel is actually found in the first book of the Old Testament. In the third chapter of Genesis, the Lord pronounces judgment immediately after Eve, having been tempted by the serpent, eats from the forbidden tree. In Genesis 3:15, the Lord says to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (NIV). To whom did God refer as “he” who would crush the head of the serpent? On this side of the cross and with the completion of Scripture, we see clearly that “he” is a reference to the Messiah. The New King James Version says it like this: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” The Messiah would come from the offspring, or Seed, of the woman. Beginning in Genesis, the “Seed of the woman” can be traced all the way to Bethlehem as confirmed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. In the midst of this ancient judgment, there is a ray of hope.
Many people are tempted to skip passages of Scripture that contain genealogies, but from these lists, we are able to trace the messianic line, beginning with Adam and Eve and culminating in the Messiah, the Seed of the woman, Mary. The Seed of the woman passed from Adam and Eve through Seth and later through Noah. The line continues through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons, one of whom was Judah. At the time of Jacob’s death, he gathered his sons around him and prophesied. When he came to Judah, he said:
“You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.” (Genesis 49:9-11)
Jacob’s prophecy plainly states that that the Messiah would come from the line of Judah, a descendant who would be a king, like a lion, taking up his rightful scepter. Looking back, we are able to see the meaning of Jacob’s prophecy. In humility, Jesus rode on a donkey and shed his blood by offering his life. Through all of these prophesies, God showed us who this Messiah would be so that we would not miss Him.
This Seed of the woman passed through Judah, and then centuries later through David, and eventually through Joseph’s wife, Mary. Biologically speaking, we know that the seed always passes through the man, so why does it say the “Seed” of the woman? Scripture intentionally uses the word “Seed” to indicate the virgin birth. Isaiah 7:14 states, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said:
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over shadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (vv. 30-35)
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, and He was. Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, rule over Israel, and have origins from of old, from ancient times. We are able to trace His origins all the way back to Genesis. We can actually go back even further to eternity past. John 1:3 says, “Through him [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made,” a reference to Creation. All of Scripture supports Micah’s prophecy that the One who would be born in Bethlehem and rule over Israel was God eternal, who created the world, the Word made flesh.
When Micah spoke this prophecy, Israel was about to be taken captive to Assyria. Two thousand years ago, Israel faced another dark period. More than four hundred years had passed with no word from God—just silence. Moreover, the Jews were living under Roman occupation. The situation seemed completely hopeless, though the Word of God promised a coming Savior. For this reason, there was a sense of expectancy. People hoped God would send this Promised Savior, and they watched for Him. Two thousand years ago and seven hundred years after Micah’s prophecy, God fulfilled His promise to Micah on that first Christmas morning. In the little town of Bethlehem, a Savior was born, and His name was Jesus.
I can remember what it was like to wake up on Christmas morning in Bethel, NC. I was always the first to wake up; I would run down the hall and awaken my two sisters. Then the three of us would wake up Mom and Dad, who always warned us, the night before, not to go into the living room until they were in there. The living room doors were tightly shut, but there was a little crack between the doors; my sisters and I would always peek through the crack, but we really couldn’t see anything. We were like race horses waiting for the gun to sound and the gate to open at the Kentucky Derby. It seemed like centuries passed as we waited for our parents to get in there and get the movie camera ready. As soon as they gave the go ahead, we would burst through those doors.
Today, we too live in a very dark period of history and, at times, it seems as if God is silent. But we have His Word, and He has promised that, one day, Jesus is coming back. As His children, we should have the same excitement as a young child on Christmas Eve. Can you remember what it was like to be a ten year-old the night before Christmas? Christmas is about the birth of Christ, the Messiah, our hope. As believers, we are to focus on our faith in Christ, rather than circumstances. Then we can live each day with a great sense of expectancy—like Secretariat behind the gate waiting for the sound of the gun. We await the sound of the trumpet. Jesus is coming back, and He has promised to take us to Heaven. He has given us His word, and He is a faithful to His promises.
In John 14:1-4, Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Do you have hope this Christmas morning? The Lord is coming back soon. As we can see, God gave many clues to prepare for the first coming of the Messiah. For every Scripture that points to Jesus’ first coming, there are eight that point to His second coming. Are you ready? Revelation 22:20 states, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, come soon! This world is so dark, and many of your people are hurting. Please come soon, but while you tarry, help me use the time wisely to share the hope of Bethlehem with others you put in my path. Give me courage to share the Good News this Christmas. In Your name, I pray. Amen!