Verse of the Day Devotion: Micah 5:2 – But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.
Our next verse this Christmas season refers to the place of His birth. First, let us look at the situation from where this prophecy comes from. We read in verse one the following, “Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops; They have laid siege against us; With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek.” Micah 5:1. They have been besieged by another kingdom, whom many see as the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. This was a very difficult period for Jerusalem, for Babylon was a cruel and harsh conqueror, and the failure of Judah’s king only made this situation worse.
Moving on to our focus verse, God, through Micah, brings about a glorious prophecy. “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2. First, he refers to Bethlehem Ephrathah. There were two Bethlehem’s in Israel. There was one in Zebulun which is not the one referred to in this verse. “The border circled around it on the north to Hannathon, and it ended at the valley of Iphtahel. Included also were Kattah and Nahalal and Shimron and Idalah and Bethlehem; twelve cities with their villages. This was the inheritance of the sons of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.” Joshua 19:14-16. Micah uses the name Bethlehem Ephrathah to distinguish which Bethlehem was meant, for, as we see in Genesis, there was a town named Ephrathah which also went by the name Bethlehem. “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).” Genesis 35:19.
We know that Bethlehem is a small town, for it is stated as ‘Too little to be among the clans of Judah’. The tribes of Israel were divided into groups called clans. Many times, towns had enough to be a clan in themselves. If not, they were grouped with others to produce a clan. Bethlehem was too small to be a clan of itself, so it was combined with others to create one. However, even though they were so small, out of them would come a king, the Messiah. This king would be a descendent of David as shown in the psalms. “My covenant I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants shall endure forever And his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, And the witness in the sky is faithful.” Psalm 89:33-37. And finally, it says what He would do was set up from eternity. Not from a period of time, but before time in eternity. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 14.
Moving on to verse three we read, “Therefore He will give them up until the time When she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren Will return to the sons of Israel.” Micah 5:3. He will give up the disobedient and rebellious Jews into the hands of other nations, till she who is in labor gives birth. This is Mary who will give birth to Jesus. And when this happens, the remainder of Christ’s brethren will return to the sons of Israel. This refers to both families, that of Judah and of Israel.
In closing, the Messiah was prophesied to be born in a small, somewhat unimportant city according to the Jews, call Bethlehem Ephrathah. And this was fulfilled because, for though they were living in Nazareth in Galilee, Caesar Augustus declared a census of everyone under his rule, which required them to register in Bethlehem since Joseph was of the lineage of David. This definitely was the work of God who knows the end from the beginning. And He assured His people that their strife and misery would end because the one to be born was the Christ. It is amazing when we look back how God uses everything to fulfill His purposes. And we must remember that He is doing the same today. So, take heart. All will happen as He says, and He cannot be thwarted.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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