Micah Chapter 5: Jacob’s Trouble and Holy Remnant

Dec 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Micah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Micah Chapter 5: Jacob’s Trouble and Holy Remnant

Micah 5:1 Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.

Micah 5:2 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.

The RSV reads, “Now you are walled about with a wall; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike upon the cheek the ruler of Israel. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.”

There is a break in the narrative here. Micah 4:13 showed that the Church in glory and natural Israel would be accredited with breaking in pieces the Gentile nations. Micah 5:1 describes the siege in AD 70. It may be that just as the nation of Israel was laid in siege in AD 70, so there will be similar circumstances down here at this end of the age. However, one big difference is that while Israel will be temporarily defeated in Jacob’s Trouble, the Lord will fight for them with mighty power and rescue them, whereas in AD 70, the nation was not delivered. In the near future, all of Jerusalem will be taken, and the defeat will be just long enough to make sure that under no circumstances will Israel be able to deliver itself. Then God alone will go forth and fight for His people. Divine power will bring the victory.

“With a rod they strike upon the cheek the ruler of Israel” (RSV) is probably an allusion to Messiah. This clause, which is a play on words, is contrary to fallen human nature. The one the nation smote will be their future ruler, whereas usually the one who has been maltreated would turn around and permanently cast off the nation. The very one whom Israel rejected and denied will be their ruler and deliverer. The siege and destruction in AD 70 was wholly attributable to Israel’s rejection of Messiah. Verses 1 and 2 will be a powerful witness to the Jews in the future, when it is seen that Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies: Messiah, their future ruler, was to be born in Bethlehem, and he was to be struck on the cheek.

An educated Jew who is living at the time of Gog and Magog and sees the hostility of the enemy will probably think of AD 70. Seeing the city surrounded in siege and knowing the hatred of the enemy at that time will call to mind the previous desolation in AD 70 and the horrible outcome. Even now the Jews know that the Arabs would like to push them into the sea (eliminate the Jewish state entirely). This hostility is giving the current generation of Jews an idealism and a desire to fight, for they know they will perish if they do not keep up their preparedness. They are greatly outnumbered, so they have to be prepared to fight 25 to 1. In Jacob’s Trouble, they will know they are facing total extermination. At that time, things will be called to their attention about Jesus, and the right-hearted among them will realize he is their Messiah and will understand their extremity—they will recognize Jesus as the one who will deliver them. Therefore, verse 1 applies to both the AD 70 siege and Jacob’s Trouble.

“Ephratah” is the name for the environs of Bethlehem. Rachel died in the vicinity of Bethlehem (in Ephratah), giving birth to Benjamin. Bethlehem Ephratah was little among the thousands of clans or towns (small hamlets) of Israel. Verse 2 shows that at one time, Judah was much more populous than it is today. Jesus is the ruler who was to come forth out of Bethlehem Ephratah in Judah. Bethlehem Ephratah is a geographical identification of Messiah, and Judah is a family identification of him. Incidentally, when the decree went forth from Herod to slay all the male children in Bethlehem Ephratah from two years of age and under, Jesus was less than two years old—probably 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 years old—but Herod wanted to play safe by extending the age a little.

“Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” This clause was inserted to show that it was in the plan of God for the future ruler to come from Bethlehem Ephratah and to be smitten on the cheek. It was general knowledge among the Jews that Messiah would come from Bethlehem, an insignificant village.

Trinitarians often use verse 2 to try to prove that Jesus and God are the same individual and that Jesus is everlasting, as implied in the King James Version. However, in many cases, olam, the Hebrew word for “everlasting,” does not necessarily mean from eternity to eternity but has the thought of “to a completion” or “for an age.” When “everlasting” is truly the thought, either the context would prove it, or the Hebrew olam would be repeated, that is, used twice.

Q: What is the difference between a Nazarite and a Nazarene?

A: A Nazarite took either a temporary or a lifetime vow of refraining from alcoholic beverages and of being specially devoted, or consecrated, to the Lord. A Nazarene was an inhabitant of Nazareth.

Micah 5:3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.

Here Israel is the one in travail. Because the nation crucified Jesus, God gave them up to the period of disfavor until the time that the Church is complete. Their “house” was left desolate, and they were delivered up for the period of the Gospel Age, the period of their travail (Matt. 23:38). Now, at the end of the age, favor has been shown to Israel in that they are back in their land, but a few hard experiences still lie ahead, climaxing with Jacob’s Trouble, which will result in the Holy Remnant’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah. Both the vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 and the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus picture Israel’s period of travail during the Gospel Age.

Isaiah 66:7-9 has both a spiritual application (in regard to the completion of the Church) and a natural application (pertaining to the nation of Israel). The natural application (“Shall the earth … bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once?”) harmonizes with Micah 5:3, for the birth of the nation corresponds with the ending of its travail. First, Israel needed the experience of disfavor down through the Gospel Age, then there was a partial regathering to the land, and still a future wave of anguish must occur with Gog and Magog. Following the deliverance of the Little Flock and the Great Company, Israel will be delivered out of Jacob’s Trouble. God’s deliverance of Israel from Gog will result in the birth of the nation “in one day.”

“Then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel” (see RSV). Down through the Gospel Age, a  small percentage of Jews have accepted Christ, but after Jacob’s Trouble, the remainder (the vast majority) will also accept Christ—and thus “return to the people of Israel,” as Micah describes it.

Micah 5:4 And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

The RSV reads, “And he shall stand and feed 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.” Jesus will stand and particularly feed Israel, “his flock,” and also the Gentiles (the other sheep).

“They shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.” From the time the Kingdom is inaugurated, Israel will dwell securely, and Jesus shall become known throughout the earth.

Micah 5:5 And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and  when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.

For verse 5, the RSV has, “And this shall be peace, when the Assyrian comes into our land and treads upon our soil, that we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men.”

At the time the Assyrian (Gog) invades Israel for Jacob’s Trouble, peace will come when the “seven shepherds” and the “eight princes of men” are raised against him.

After the Assyrian is successful in tearing down Christianity, that element will become very boastful, as shown by Isaiah’s saying the axe will boast and the saw will get so large it will think it has shaken itself (Isa. 10:15). God will permit this condition just so long, and then He will render a judgment, destroying the Assyrian suddenly with a mighty display of power and simultaneously rescuing the Holy Remnant of Israel. Isaiah 10:12 states, “When the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I [that is, God] will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.” That same verse in the RSV is rendered, “When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride.”

In the books of both Micah and Isaiah, the Assyrian is a symbol of the invading force at the end of the age. With the Prophet Micah sometimes quoting fragments of Isaiah’s words, a rapport existed between them. God used these two prophets, Isaiah being the greater of the two.

Verse 3 just stated, “Then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.”

Now subsequent verses provide details of that return and how it will be brought to pass. For example, when the Assyrian comes into the land, God will raise up “seven shepherds” and “eight principal men.” Judgment will be visited on Assyria—not merely on the forces on the scene in Jerusalem and environs but also on those back in the homelands. The visitation will be upon Gog and also upon Magog, the land Gog came from (Ezek. 39:6).

Some Bible commentators feel that the “seven” and the “eight” apply to the Maccabean history and their success in warfare. Thus the Bible is couched in words that can be beneficial to God’s people, whether natural Israel or spiritual Israel, in whatever time period they are living. However, we live in the end time, and the “seven shepherds” and the “eight principal men” have a particular significance for our day as the Church and the Ancient Worthies, respectively.

Just as the Lord has been selecting his Church down through the seven periods of the Gospel Age, so seven messengers have been specially used, one in each period. This spiritual leadership—the glorified Church as kings and priests—will see that the prophesied destruction comes on the Assyrian. In addition, the Ancient Worthies will be involved. Obadiah 21 shows that the deliverance of the Holy Remnant will take place at the hands of the glorified Church: “And saviours [plural] shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.”

Verse 5 indicates the power and the authority that will be manifested by the Ancient Worthies when they are raised. These representatives of the Kingdom in the flesh will not just be lecturers! Called “eight principal men,” they will be raised perfect (Heb. 11:40). They will be a leading element but on an earthly plane during the Kingdom. The Holy Remnant will assist and be honored, but they will not be on the same level as the elite Ancient Worthies, the “princes in all the earth” (Psa. 45:16).

Q: Does the number “eight” signify “a new beginning” at the start of the Kingdom Age?

A: Yes. Incidentally, there is an “eight” that pertains to the Gospel Age, an “eight” that pertains to the beginning of the Kingdom Age, and an “eight” that pertains to the age beyond the Millennium.

Q: In verses 5 and 6, the pronoun “our” is used repeatedly in reference to Israel—“our land,” “our palaces,” and “our borders.” But the pronoun “we” is also used.” “Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.” To whom does “we” refer?

A: The pronoun “we” is a reference to the Heavenly Father and Jesus. At that time, God’s plan will bear recognizable fruitage. The world will see that God is doing something. Verse 5, then, is explained as follows: “And this man [Jesus] shall be the peace, when the Assyrian [Gog] shall come into our land [Israel]: and when he [the Assyrian] shall tread in our [Israel’s] palaces, then shall we [God and Jesus] raise against him [the Assyrian] seven shepherds [the glorified Church], and eight principal men [the Ancient Worthies].”

Micah 5:6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.

For verse 6, the RSV has, “They shall rule the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the drawn sword; and they shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our border.” After the seven shepherds and the eight princes of men deliver Israel from the Assyrian (Gog, who will invade Israel and tread within its borders), they will rule the land of Assyria (Magog, the land of Gog) with the sword.

“And they [the seven shepherds and the eight principal men] shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod.” The seven messengers represent the entire gospel Church in glory, and the eight principal men are the Ancient Worthies, who will come forth at “midnight” in Jacob’s Trouble (Psa. 119:62). What do the terms “land of Assyria” and “land of Nimrod [the area of Babylon]” signify? When will their judgment take place? (We usually think of the king of Babylon as Papacy or Christendom, but that judgment will occur earlier, before the Great Company wash their robes in the general tribulation.)

Gog and his associates will come from the “land” of Magog. Not only will Gog and allies be punished at that time in Israel, but also a “fire” (anarchy) will be sent upon the land of Magog (Ezek. 39:6). Micah was stating the same thing. Instead of saying, “I will punish the Assyrian,” he said the judgment would come on the “land of Assyria.” Here the “land of Nimrod [Babylon]” represents the nations of Christendom, but not the religious aspect. Therefore, instead of saying, “I will punish Nimrod [mystic Babylon],” Micah said the judgment would come on the “land of Nimrod.”

In the books of Isaiah and Micah, the “Assyrian” represents Gog. Hence the forces of Assyria here are the equivalent of the forces of Gog in the Book of Ezekiel. Nimrod was an enemy of God, particularly from the standpoint of being “a mighty hunter before the LORD”; that is, he was venerated more than God (Gen. 10:9). The First Commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me [in priority or importance]” (Exod. 20:3). With the “land of Nimrod” referring to the nations of Christendom, the coming judgment will be on both non-Christian and supposed Christian nations.

“The land of Assyria … and the land of Nimrod [will be wasted] in the entrances thereof.” Anciently, judgment was determined in the entrance (or gate) of a city. Thus the gate represented the authority or rulership of a city, for whoever controlled the gate controlled the city.

“Thus shall he [Jesus primarily] deliver us from the Assyrian, when he [the enemy] cometh into our land, and when he [the enemy] treadeth within our borders.” Inferentially, the glorified Church and the Ancient Worthies will be under Jesus; they will be associated with him.

Micah 5:7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.

Verse 7 is speaking about those of the Holy Remnant who survive Jacob’s Trouble in lands other than Israel. They will be like “dew from the LORD” and “showers upon the grass” in the midst of many peoples. Why is the time element then added: “that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men”? In the Lord’s due time, the Holy Remnant will be rescued. The “whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain … [waiting] for the manifestation of the sons of God”; it has been a long wait—and a long groaning—for the “desire of all nations” to come (Rom. 8:19,22; Hag. 2:7).

Early morning dew is invigorating and refreshing. Hail will precede the dew; that is, God’s judgment and rebuke will prepare the people to receive the dew—the Lord’s Word and instruction. Before the still, soft voice (1 Kings 19:12), the Lord will speak once, twice; yea, He will thunder! Man will have to be beaten down to his knees so that he will recognize the Lord as the only possible source of help—not the United Nations or anything else. When mankind comes to understand restitution blessings in the fullest sense—that there is some sort of healing connected with Israel—this desire will be like dew spreading out.

The Holy Remnant will have a refreshing influence like dew and gentle rain that is almost miraculous. Accordingly, they will bring a blessing where they are scattered in other nations. However, just as dew and moisture from gentle showers do not last long, so the surviving Jews will not tarry in these other lands. The Gentiles will ship them to Israel.

The “tarrying” takes on a new meaning from this standpoint. When the people see that blessings are coming from the Lord, they will realize that the best thing they can do is to MOVE and get in under those blessings. A delay might mean losing out. Moreover, a certain blessing and prestige will be attached to moving quickly, before additional severe experiences are needed to bring them into line. The Lord will deal with the Holy Remnant that is spared, and the lesson will be to speedily hearken to the Word of the Lord and to come under the new arrangement. Suppose a nation ponders and weighs the matter and, consequently, is about the thirty-fifth nation to accept Christ. Wouldn’t it be much nicer to be the first, second, or third?

This illustration is crude, but there will be a certain prestige in the recognition of that which is good. For example, the Israelis were happy that the United States was the first country to recognize Israel as a government. President Truman went out on a limb, not taking time to talk things over with an adviser, and recognized Israel right away. Similarly, a quick, spontaneous recognition of Israel in the Kingdom will be desirable: “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob” (Isa. 2:3). After sufficient time has passed, the nation that will not recognize Israel will be deprived of rain—a harsher measure (Zech. 14:16,17).

The Church will rule through the Ancient Worthies: “whom thou [the Church] mayest make princes in all the earth” (Psa. 45:16). “Instead of thy fathers [the Ancient Worthies] shall be thy [The Christ’s] children.” Another picture shows Jesus as the “father” of the regenerated race of Adam, and the Church as the “mother.” The Ancient Worthies will be representatively placed throughout the earth, and their influence will be wholesome wherever they are. Dew has a wholesome influence that seems to permeate everything; it distills quietly and without commotion on every little blade of grass—that is, on every human being in the Kingdom.

Micah 5:8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

As the king of the beasts, the lion walks arrogantly and puts on airs as if he owns the jungle, lording his majesty over the other animals. He sleeps and lounges until he is hungry and goes after prey; then there is pandemonium from the “king.” As the lion, Israel will be preeminent among the nations until the end of the Millennium. After the Millennium, there will no longer be a preference for any one nation over the other nations, as Jesus indicated when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. First, he said that salvation is of the Jews and that it was proper for Israel—and Jerusalem in particular—to be given more prominence than the mountain in Samaria. Then he said that the Father seeks such as worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24). In other words, there will come a time in earth’s history when geography is no longer significant. Wherever a man is, he will not have to look to Jerusalem for guidance because all people will be in close communion with the Lord. At that time, Israel will no longer have the prominence, but until that time, salvation is of the Jew. Even in the Gospel Age, salvation is of the Jew in the sense that Jesus was a Jew, and so were the apostles.

Israel will be “like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which … treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver” (see RSV). Young lions are more destructive; they rampage through a flock, biting a head off one sheep and an ear off another. An older lion will concentrate on one sheep to get meat to eat, whereas a young lion pursues sheep partly for sport and excitement, mauling several. The thought is that the other nations will be fearful of Israel in its new role of having divine recognition and authority. It will be very humiliating for Hitler and Nero, or someone like them, to find out that salvation is of the Jew. The Scriptures show that in this new role, Israel will be a changed people—contrite, humble, and crushed over the fact that Jesus really was the Messiah. That fact alone will take the wind out of the Jews, as it were, so that they will be meek and good representatives of the Kingdom.

Micah 5:9 Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.

Micah 5:10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:

Micah 5:11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:

Micah 5:12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:

Micah 5:13 Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.

Micah 5:14 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.

With regard to the nation of Israel, the lesson is that the victory will come not by the Jews’ own might, power, or intelligence but by the Lord, who will first destroy all of their weapons, doctrines, witchcraft, soothsayers, graven images, etc. Today the Jewish religion is much like the Catholic religion in form; for instance, the Jews have rituals and candles for the dead (believing that the dead are not really dead). Also, the Jewish people are given to signs, such as the shape of the wax drippings of a candle. All of these practices must be destroyed and changed. There is even a “catechism” from the standpoint that much has been added to the Old Testament through commentaries by rabbis. Hence the Jewish religion of today is, for the most part, very different from that given to Moses. The Christian, on the other hand, is to prove everything by a “thus saith the LORD.” Although we may admire and respect leaders who help us understand God’s Word, we must prove that what they say is correct—even if the teachings come from one of the seven messengers.

Spiritually speaking, “chariots” are organizations, and “horses” are doctrines. “Soothsayers” foretell good things (the term is taken from the word “soothe”). They give a person false confidence based on something that is of the fallen angels’ imagination. The false prophets were known for speaking “smooth” things when they should have been “barking”—warning the people (Isa. 30:9,10; 56:10). Those who say that “barking” is un-Christlike have the wrong attitude, for there is a lot to Christianity besides “soft” talk. Of course the nominal systems are the primary spiritual counterpart.

“You shall bow down no more to the work of your hands” (see RSV). Spiritually speaking, the “work” would include erroneous doctrine, but it refers mainly to efforts that are not of the Lord’s spirit or leading. We are told to work, to be busy, and not to fold our hands, but our work should be in harmony with the Lord’s Word. Work should not even be attempted without prayerful consideration and a request for guidance.

There is also a natural application. In light of the intelligence and superiority that the Jews have shown as a race, it would be difficult for them NOT to manufacture something with their hands or minds. However, talent and creative ability should be used according to the Lord’s will. Many Jews have even gone so far as to think their nation is the Messiah. Rather than see that Messiah’s light will be reflected through them, they think it originates with them. They are intellectual leaders, so they think that even as a little nation, they could be the leaders of the world. They trust in their own intelligence.

Micah 5:15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.

God will deal with Israel, nominal Christianity, and the nations, doing a cleansing work with all of them. What have “the heathen [the nations] … not heard”? They have no conception of how terrible the judgments will be when God performs “his strange act.” “The LORD shall rise up … [and] be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act” (Isa. 28:21).

(1975 Study with Excerpts from a 1993 Study)

valley of Gibeon, execute vengeance , cut off witchcrafts, remnant of Jacob, Jacob’s Trouble , king of Babylon as Papacy or Christendom,great tribulation, great time of trouble, armegeddon, gog and magog, land of Nimrod, seven shepherds, and eight principal men,  Bethlehem Ephratah,daughter of troops
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