But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. — Micah 5:2
To be “little” or “small” is not necessarily a bad thing. Even though Bethlehem was a small town in Israel, it was to play a major role in the plan of God to redeem mankind.
Years ago, I majored in science at a small college. I still remember what my physics professor told us about the size of our school. While noting that our laboratory facilities were inferior to those of the large, tax-supported colleges, he encouraged us by telling about a recent graduate of our school who had gone on to great things. This individual had not let the lack of facilities hinder him. My professor’s point was that it is not the facilities that make a person successful, but rather what that person does with the opportunities he is given. Several years later, while working at a large, multi-national corporation, I learned that the director of one of our installations, who was a vice president within the corporation, was also a graduate of my small college. This man, too, had illustrated my professor’s point that outstanding people can come from seemingly insignificant backgrounds.
In many ways, the ultimate in “smallness” is the isolated individual. Although all Christians are strongly encouraged to unite with other believers in worship, sometimes this is not possible. Perhaps you are a shut-in — not able to get out to church. Maybe you are serving in the military and find yourself in some far-off station, protecting freedoms. It may be that you worship at a good-sized church, but at school or your place of employment, you seem to be the only one who is trying to live for God. Take heart! If you believe sound doctrine and are living your faith, God knows all about you and wants you to continue serving Him, even though you feel alone.
Finally, looking at “small” in a different way, perhaps you feel that you cannot do much for the Lord because your talents and abilities are small. Do not give in to this negative thought! After all, it is God who distributes talents and abilities. God is not so much looking for the one with great talents, but rather, He is looking for the one who is “small” in his own eyes and thus fully yielded to Him. God can work through that individual! Let us personally yield our all to Him, and then see what He will do.
Verse 1 foretold how an enemy would lay siege to Israel and smite its ruler. This probably referred to King Zedekiah, who would reign in Jerusalem at the time Nebuchadnezzar would conquer the city. Zedekiah would be the last of the kings in David’s line to sit on the throne in Jerusalem until the day that the Messiah assumes this position. When the Messiah takes control, He will establish a kingdom that will never end.
Verse 2 stated the very site of the promised Messiah’s birth, an event that would take place about seven centuries later. “Bethlehem” was the name for the city in Micah’s time, whereas “Ephratah” (or “Ephrath”) was its name in former times. For example, Genesis 48:7 indicates that “Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem” is where Jacob’s wife Rachel died and was buried.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, wise men, or Magi, started a journey from the east to worship Him, because they saw His star. They traveled for many days, but upon nearing the city of Jerusalem, which was about seven miles from Bethlehem, they could not see the star. When they inquired of King Herod for the location of the nativity site, he checked with his counselors. These men were familiar with the Scriptures, and by referring to Micah 5:2, they knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
The last part of verse 2 indicated that although the Messiah would be born into human frailty, in actuality, His existence is eternal, both before and after his physical life on earth. He was co-creator of the world with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
As many of the prophets often did, Micah covered a large span of time in a few verses. After predicting the Messiah’s birth in verse 2, many scholars believe verse 3 referred to Israel’s rejection of the Messiah during His earthly ministry. Verse 4 looked ahead to the Millennial Reign, when He will be “great unto the ends of the earth.”
From verse 5 on, the prophet described some of the characteristics of the time when the Messiah will rule. Assyria, also referred to as the land of Nimrod (the empire’s founder), was one of Israel’s major enemies at the time of Micah. The nation was possibly used to typify all God’s adversaries. God promised victory over Israel’s enemies, saying that the Messiah will be “peace.”
In a measure, the Jews would fulfill verse 7, as they spread the knowledge of the true God during their captivity, thus paving the way for the Gospel. However, the complete fulfillment will be when the Messiah rules the earth. The remaining verses in this chapter contain a prophecy of the final overthrow of all the enemies of pure and undefiled religion.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The message of promise
B. The future kingdom
3. The distress of Jerusalem before the kingdom
d. The description of Israel’s humiliation (5:1)
4. The ruler of the kingdom (5:2-15)
a. His human and divine origin (5:2)
b. His work (5:3-9)
(1) To regather his brethren (5:3)
(2) To protect his brethren (5:4-6)
(3) To exalt his brethren (5:7-9)
c. His destruction (5:10-15)
(1) Of military might (5:10-11)
(2) Of idolatry (5:12-14)
(3) Of ungodly nations (5:15)
Your part in God’s plan may seem small, but do not think it is insignificant. Each effort made for God is noticed by Him, and He can use what appears to be little.