By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Micah
Key Scripture Verses: Micah 5:2, 5 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“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.”
“And he will be our peace…”
The book of Micah is a book of contrasts and a book of hope—it speaks of God’s great hate for sin and his great love and compassion for the sinner, in spite of his sin. Micah’s message was a warning against evil and evil pursuits, against wronging others and taking advantage of them. He warns Israel that God will have to discipline them if they do not change their sinful ways, but in doing so he hopes to teach them and bring them back to himself, because it is God’s plan to spread love and to care for his people.
This particular verse in Micah speaks of Jesus as the Messiah who will be born in Bethlehem, that he will be Israel’s ruler, and that he has already been alive forever. Micah prophesied of Jesus, revealing his birthplace hundreds of years before he arrived. “Bethlehem Ephrathah” refers to Bethlehem and the district where Bethlehem is located—specifically where the Messiah would come from.
Micah then goes on to say that “He will stand and shepherd his flock,” (v. 4), and “He will be our peace” (v. 5). The commentary in this Bible reminds us that Jesus spoke of his coming to give the people his peace and not to be afraid, citing John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Micah delivers a lot of warnings and speaks of the pain and suffering that Israel is bringing upon itself and that they need to change their ways, but he also brings a message of hope—a message that God cares for them, that God has a plan to redeem them. It is a message that forgiveness is attainable. God’s discipline is not rejection but redirection to bring Israel back to him.
The book ends on a high note, saying that God will remember his promise to Abraham, that he delights in showing mercy and compassion, that he will forgive those who are sincere and all who accept the forgiveness and love that he offers. (Micah 7:18-20): “You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy…you will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot…you will be faithful to Jacob and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.”
God has had a plan all along. Jesus is, was, and will be forevermore our savior, our redeemer, the living God who loves us and wants to be in relationship with us. “And he is our peace”—what could be more wonderful than that?