Prophecy is more than just predicting the future. The Old Testament prophets didn’t understand their role simply as ‘forecasters’. They saw themselves in terms of receiving and declaring the Word of God, particularly the promises of God. Micah’s prophecy begins in this way:

Micah 1:1 The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

Micah announces promises of both judgment and salvation to a people facing political unrest, deportation and distress. Their city was under siege sadly because they had forsaken the Lord. They deserved what was coming to them. Yet in spite of their rebellion, Micah announces that God will nevertheless deliver them as He did when He delivered Israel from Egypt.

The question we need to ask about these prophetic promises is ‘would God keep His promises?’ The central feature of Micah’s prophecy revolves around the coming of a future king of Israel – and he tells us 3 things about him:

1.       The Place of His birth

“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.” (Micah 5:2 NIV84)

The promise begins by pointing us to Bethlehem. That’s of course where it all happened. Bethlehem was associated with Israel’s great King David. Although a humble and insignificant place it was a royal city. It would have been a huge surprise to the people of Micah’s day to hear that a king would be born in Bethlehem. At the time that he spoke these words, the Davidic line was in tatters, humiliated by defeat and all but destroyed.

Yet in spite of this, the Lord promises that He will keep the hope of Israel alive through a King who will be born of a family in Bethlehem Ephrathah – David’s father, Jesse, was a Ephrathite – the smallest of all families in Judah.

Who would have dreamt that such an insignificant place and family could produce a King who would eventually save the world. Micah says His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. It is nothing other than the marvel of God’s mysterious way of bringing forth a ruler from the most unlikely and unexpected place.

2.       The Person to be born

The person to be born will be a ruler over Israel. He will be a King and his origins we are told will be “from of old, from ancient times“. This could mean either that His origin is beyond human comprehension because He is divine, or it could mean that His coming was planned from long ago. It was planned and destined in the eternal purposes and council of God – it was planned before time began.

According to John both are actually true.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning ……. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The baby born in Bethlehem comes from eternity because He is God in human flesh.

3.       The Purpose of His birth

In the Old Testament, kings were considered to be the shepherds of the nation. They provided for, protected and guided their flock. All the previous kings had failed in this task – none of them had been true shepherds.

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the  Lord , in the majesty of the name of the  Lord  his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness  will reach to the ends of the earth.  And he will be their peace. (Micah 5:4, 5 NIV84)

This promised king will rule in ‘the strength of Jehovah’ and ‘in the name of the Lord His God’ i.e. for His glory. He will be perfectly obedient and His reign will be an ideal expression of God’s will. He will therefore provide security, stability and peace for God’s people. He attains this by eventually giving up His life for the sheep.  Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11). 

His reign will stand firm against all the changes and challenges of history. It will be constant, reliable and permanent (i.e. eternal), and will extend over the whole earth. He is indeed the GOOD SHEPHERD!

The unequivocal declaration of the New Testament is that this promise is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ.  Micah’s prophecy is quoted by the chief priests and scribes in answer to Herod’s question about where the promised Messiah was to be born.

Now  after Jesus was born in  Bethlehem of Judea  in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men  from  the east came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is he who has been born  king of the Jews? For we saw  his star when it rose  and have come to  worship him.”  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;  and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where  the Christ was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:  “”And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will  shepherd my people Israel.”” (Matthew 2:1-6 ESV)

Christmas leaves us in no doubt that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The centuries of preaching by the Old Testament prophets bring the multiple promises of God to fulfillment in the birth of Jesus Christ. The baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas time was no ordinary baby, but was in fact God in human flesh. The long awaited Saviour has come and He alone is the way of salvation.

2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Christ.

That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.