A Minor Prophet with a Major Message
Author: Dr. Mark Bailey
“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.”
(Matthew 2:6, NASB)
Imbedded in the memory of many of us who regularly celebrate Christmas is Matthew’s quotation of Micah 5:2. “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6). What is forgotten by most is the fact that there is a second half of the verse from Micah 5:2 that was not quoted by Matthew but would have been in the minds of most Jews familiar with this minor prophet who made such a major prophecy. The second half of the verse, in fact, is what makes the first half so significant.
The second half reads: “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Jesus did not begin with His birth in Bethlehem. While His earthly life began by means of the incarnation in Bethlehem, Jesus was the eternal Son of God who existed from all eternity. As the God-Man Jesus alone can fulfill the prophetic expectation. Only an eternal being could ever be an eternal king over an eternal kingdom as the Bible predicts will be the case. Only an absolutely righteous One could reign in righteousness, justice, and peace as both Savior and Judge. Only Jesus could fulfill the prophetic expectations to be both the Son of David and the Son of God.
Micah continues in that same chapter to state, “And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.” Micah 5:2–4 is a directly messianic prophecy that the future King who would be born in Bethlehem and will ultimately reign as King in Jerusalem was none other than Jesus—the Son of God who became the Son of Man.
—Dr. Mark L. Bailey, Senior Professor of Bible Exposition, President