The Prophesy of Micah
Study by Bob Burridge ©2019
Study 8: Micah 5:5-15
Like the Dew and Like Lions
After Jesus was crucified, he rose from the dead and appeared on earth for 40 days until he ascended into glory. Then he sat down again on the throne of heaven. A few days later the Holy Spirit came in special power. He came to enable the new church to become what God had called her to be in the last earthly era. In those first years the Apostles carefully guided and taught the young church.
In those early days persecution of Christ’s followers was already increasing. Some who were born Israelites had corrupted the teachings of the Scriptures. They hated the early Christians who taught that Messiah had come. They had the Apostles arrested, beaten, and jailed. Those who believed Jesus were cut off from the Synagogues. Their widows and sick were left without food and other needed provisions. Christian merchants were boycotted putting most of them out of business. Neighbors and friends shunned anybody who followed Christ.
Then persecution reached a new high. Stephen was brutally stoned to death for his faith. Behind it all was a cruel Pharisee from Tarsus named Saul. Acts 8:1 tells us, “… Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
But God was at work through it all. Almost immediately that wicked persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, became a Christian! He became that era’s great evangelist known as the Apostle Paul. What about all those believers scattered from Jerusalem by the persecution? Acts 8:4 fills us in. It says, “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”
More than half a millennium earlier another scattering took place. God’s people, Ancient Israel, had became a corrupt nation. Prophets were sent to warn them that if they didn’t repent, they would be invaded and taken captive by heathen nations. First the northern tribes of Israel fell and were taken into captivity in 722 BC. Then, 136 years later, the southern tribes of Judah were taken captive. The people saw their cities go up in flames behind them as they were being hauled off into a life of slavery.
One of the prophets who warned them of the coming captivity was Micah. He reminded them of God’s great purposes which are never frustrated by persecutions and captivities. God promised that the captivity of the Jews was not going to be permanent. They would be restored to the blessings of God because of his promises and grace. God would use this horrible situation to turn many back to him in repentance and faith in the coming Savior.
The nations that dared to attack them would be forever changed too. Not only would they eventually be judged by God and fall from power, they would also be strongly influenced by the presence of God’s church among them.
In Micah chapter 5 the prophet encouraged the wayward nation with the promise of the Birth of Jesus Christ, but it came with a warning …
Micah 5:1-5, “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. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name 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. …”
Then verse 5 continues:
God’s deliverance is seen most clearly against the backdrop of invasion.
Micah 5:5b-6, ” … When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; they shall shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod at its entrances; and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our border.”
There was going to be an invasion. Of that there was no question. Israel’s disobedience as a nation demanded it. Moses had warned in Deuteronomy 28:49, “The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand,”
Deuteronomy 28 goes on to describe that their towns will be besieged and destroyed, and they will become slaves in disgrace. But — God’s patience with them would not last forever.
In Micah’s time the great threat was from Assyria. (Here it uses their Hebrew name Ash-SHUR – אשּׁוּר .) At that time Assyria was the nation that was attacking Israel’s cities. It’s not that all future invasions will come from that one nation. By the time Jerusalem fell in 586 BC (almost 200 years later) Assyria was no longer a world power. Media and the Neo-Babylonian Empire were the great threats. But in the time of Micah, Assyria represented the foreign speaking enemies of God’s people. It was from that same area then occupied by Assyria that the enemy would come.
But even there in captivity, God will raise up leaders as shepherds. God has always provided shepherds to lead. The amazing thing here is who and how they will shepherd: They will shepherd the land that was then Assyria! They will not shepherd them with the protective rod and staff as in Psalm 23, but with the sword! God’s people will be delivered. God’s enemies will be judged.
God calls his people to influence the world –
wherever they are – even in captivity.
Micah 5:7-9, “Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off. “
The Kingdom of God has a dual assignment as it advances in the world.
On the one hand the church is to be like the dew and showers of rain. The Bible describes the world as a spiritually “dry and thirsty land.” The more God’s ways are abandoned, the drier and thirstier it becomes. We can see the barrenness of our own world as it becomes less godly.
Though God might withhold his blessings for a time, he promises that when his purpose is accomplished, refreshment will come for the sake of his true people.
The grass doesn’t earn the dew and rain. It’s sent by the Creator. The showers don’t “wait for the children of man” to bring them. They are Sovereignly administered to demonstrate God’s power and mercy. Jesus said, God “sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Everything depends on him. If God doesn’t send the refreshment, it won’t come.
The prophet Isaiah at about the same time as Micah reported God’s promise in Isaiah 44:3-4, “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.”
Poets have often described the freshness of a morning dew. If you’re not real familiar with it, get up early enough to take a moment to appreciate it. The Dew provides much of the moisture needed by plants and trees. But the dew isn’t enough, God also sends the rain. The dew keeps the grass fresh, the showers make it grow. The presence of God’s people is to refresh the world toward godliness. We’re here to be the refreshing dew and rain in this dry and thirsty land.
In his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 Jesus used another comparison for this part of our assignment here. He called his people to be light shining into the world and the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13-16)
Salt had two main uses in Biblical times.
1. It was a preservative. This was a time before modern refrigeration and canning. Salt binds up the water so microorganisms won’t be able to grow.
2. It was also a flavor enhancer. Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt …”
President Woodrow Wilson told about a time he sat relaxing in a barbershop chair in no hurry to leave. Another customer not known to the barbers came in. He had such a powerful yet gentle personality that Wilson said it transformed the room. Nothing special was said, but his sincerity and personal concern as he talked with everyone left an amazing impression on everybody. Even after he left, the whole the barbershop continued with a quieter, more peaceful tone. In telling the story president Wilson said, “I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.” He was the only one who recognized that man who came in. He was a Christian – D.L. Moody!
As ambassadors for Christ in this world, we should flavor it like salt. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Paul said God works through us as he, “… spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life…”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his Studies on the Sermon on the Mount, said, “what undoubtedly saved [England] from a revolution such as that experienced in France at the end of the 18th century was nothing but the Evangelical Revival. This was not because anything was done directly, but because masses of individuals had become Christians and were living this better life and had this higher outlook. The whole political situation was affected, and the great Acts of Parliament which were passed in the last century were mostly due to the fact that there were such large numbers of individual Christians found in the land.” … “The great hope for society today is in an increasing number of individual Christians”
Micah called God’s people to be like dew and rain. God sends us to permeate and influence this world like dew, rain, light, salt, a refreshing fragrance. If the church doesn’t display Christ to the world, the world would become a darker and drier place. Because we’re here, God in caring for his children holds back the full flood of sin. Because we’re here, God uses us to promote the biblical faith and godliness. Commentator Kyle says Micah is talking about “the refreshing qualities of God’s faithful people.” He reminds us that “The Master’s minority, composed of a few rare souls, has ever been God’s instrument in molding a finer social order.”
On the other hand we’re to be like a lion among the nations. The lion dominates and consumes the other animals. He’s the “King of the Jungle”. The church is to behave bravely as under the Lordship of Christ the King. We represent him. We’re called to defeat the false kingdom of Satan. We’re to be like lions, reigning as representatives of the King of all kings in this earthly jungle.
In Romans 16:20 Paul said that at that time, God was already crushing Satan, and it says he was crushing him under the feet of his church!
God has called us to be the refreshing dew and rain to water the spiritually dry land. He also sends us out as his lions to triumph over the beastly tyrants of this lost world, promoting God’s ways and truth, and bringing the Gospel to set free those held captive by the darkness.
The Lord will take away the tools that make us trust in ourselves.
Micah 5:10-15, “And in that day, declares the LORD, I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots; and I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds; and I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes; and I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; and I will root out your Asherah images from among you and destroy your cities. And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.”
The LORD will cut off the things in which people foolishly place their trust. He’ll remove the instruments of war some people often rely on for security: He’ll take away their horses, chariots, cities, and fortifications.
He’ll remove the false idols of superstition and false hope. He’ll put an end to their sorceries, fortunetellers, carved images, sacred pillars, and Asherah. The Lord will purify his rebellious nation and make the remaining faithful ones strong. The worldly solutions that seem so logical and tempting to the fallen mind need to be removed.
But when does this all happen? The Covenant Promises unfold progressively from Eden all the way to the end of this age. It’s wrong to narrow the interpretation of prophesy to just one event or period of history.
Micah lived when a series of events would begin to move God’s plan toward a final and glorious climax.
1. The Jewish nation had become corrupt. A series of judgments would come to humble them with tragic destruction.
2. They would be sent into captivity where they were to serve as an influence among the nations. While there as captives, the Jews left a record of what God said about the promise of a coming Messiah. That’s how Nebuchadnezzar came to see the power of the great God of Daniel. That’s how the Wise Men knew to go to Jerusalem when the star appeared hundreds of years later at Christ’s birth.
3. After the captivity, a restoration began with the return to the land and the rebuilding of the temple.
4. There the Messiah came to redeem his people, and lay the foundation for a New Zion.
5. The Spirit came at Pentecost, and the Apostles built on that foundation for the Church Age. Today, our influence as God’s Israel is to permeate the nations even more!
6. Finally there comes the age of consummate glory. Coming again in judgment, Jesus will bring in the eternal state of perfection and glory.
We live in that church age, and are sent out
to be among the nations as witnesses.
It’s our duty to be like dew and rain bringing refreshment by Christ’s presence in us. We’re to be like lions plundering the kingdom of Satan. We lead some of his subjects to know Christ and find hope in Him. We’re here to bring the things of this world into subjection to Christ, the Lord over all.
In each era God’s victory over sin becomes more clear, his Sovereign glory better revealed. Jesus compared his growing Kingdom with a mustard seed that grows into a mighty tree, and to a small speck of yeast that leavens a whole lump of dough. That’s our job – every one of us!
Today: we live in that exciting age preparing for the final event of the ages! We have a greater opportunity than any age before us for getting the message out. We are to permeate the nations doing our best to bring things into subjection to Christ, to plunder Satan’s kingdom bringing God’s elect into the church family, and to encourage one another and purify the church to prepare it for the coming Christ.
It’s our duty and privilege to build a solid foundation for our families and those God brings into our lives, to keep from being assimilated into the world order, to avoid accepting it’s values to grow strong, and build solid churches, businesses, and ministries
We are to shine as light for this dark world. We need to be like the refreshing dew and rain. We are called to extend God’s majesty and justice like the lions. We need to be the salt of the earth. Or do we need to be again scattered in judgment and correction because of our lack of faithfulness? Does God need to take away the distractions that keep us from our duty? Does our security and peace need to be trampled down by the enemies of God to get our attention?
When you leave the house, go home from school or work, fix your mind on being like refreshing dew and a conquering lion. Be ready to humbly explain your trust in Christ, and the hope of God’s promises when you can. Use the literature or websites your church recommends to spread the fact of God’s sovereign grace and glory.
If we don’t stand clearly against the lies and deceptions, where will the witness come from? It’s our duty to rain like the refreshing showers and to reign like those representing the King of all kings. Don’t wait for somebody else to do it. Don’t expect formal programs of the church to do your job for you. Get busy plundering the kingdom of Satan.
When we rain like the refreshing showers, and reign like the lion for the King of Kings, God promises to bless his people by drawing them closer to him and giving them a peace that passes understanding. Don’t leave the blessings to others.
Note: Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Index to the Studies in Micah