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Sunday, October 1st, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Micah 5

Ironside's Notes on Selected BooksIronside's Notes

Verses 1-15

Chapter 5

The Smitten Judge

The promises we have been considering are all to be made good by Messiah, of whose rejection at His first coming we are now to read. In the Hebrew arrangement of the text, at the present, the first verse is taken from chap. 5, and made ver. 14 of chap. 4-thus divorcing the testimony as to the smitten Judge of Israel from the One born in Bethlehem, whose goings forth have been from the ages of eternity. It is easy to detect rabbinical opposition to the New Testament narratives in this, slight as the difference might seem to the careless reader.

Accepting the Hebrew arrangement, it would seem as though the Judge in question was simply one of the many rulers of Israel who would be treated shamefully by the northern foe. But the light of the New Testament makes it plain that the smitten One is none other than He who could say, “I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6). He it was who came to His own, but His own people received Him not. In the high priest’s house “did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, Who is he that smote Thee?” In the Roman pretorium likewise the rough soldiers “spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head” (Matthew 26:67, Matthew 26:68, and 27:30).

But of Him it had been declared by the prophet, “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 [or, the days of eternity]” (ver. 2). Thus, in plain language, seven centuries before God incarnate appeared on earth, the place of His birth was distinctly indicated. To David’s city should this honor be given. This, as is well known, is the passage to which the scribes turned when they explained to Herod where Christ was to be born. They held prophetic truth, and searched the Scriptures: but the truth held not them, nor did they permit the Scriptures to search them.

The lesson is important for us all. Mere familiarity with the written Word of God will only make us the guiltier if it be not that which controls all our ways. To read the Book; to study its various lines of truth; to be able to speak intelligently of the great doctrinal principles of Scripture-and yet not to have received that Word in an honest heart, to be controlled and guided by it, is dreadful indeed!

One has said, referring to the not uncommon, nor unhelpful, practice of Bible-marking, “It is a small thing how you mark your Bible, but it is of all importance that it mark you.”

To Bethlehem, then, came the Eternal One, “God manifest in flesh.” Over His manger-bed angels hung, adoring their God and ours. A few shepherds and, later, some wise men from distant lands, came to worship likewise; but, for the rest, Israel and the nations around went on in their indifferent, careless way. God the Son had become the Son of Man; but man, in the main, was unconcerned. “He was despised and rejected of men,” and the Judge of Israel was smitten on the cheek! Thus was Messiah cut off, and He had nothing. For this, judgment fell on the city that wickedly judged Him, and Jerusalem has for centuries been trodden down of the Gentiles, and shall be, “until the times of the nations are completed”-”until the time that she which travail-eth hath brought forth: then the remnant of His brethren shall return unto the children of Israel” (ver. 3). Dispersed among all peoples, scattered into every country, suffering under every sky, Israel endures the awful curse invoked by her own elders, “His blood be upon us and our children.”

Unto her a Son was born and a Child given ere she travailed for His birth. But her pains are yet to come. In the great tribulation, under the personal Antichrist, she shall be in anguish to be delivered. Then shall she truly bring forth, apprehending in the Crucified her own Son and her Saviour! Compare Revelation 12:1-5 and Isaiah 66:7-9, “Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.” Therefore her pains are yet future, and she shall be in sore travail ere she recognizes and owns her Messiah.

Then a multitude of sons shall also be hers when “the remnant of His brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.” The residue, called “His brethren” here, He owns Himself as “My brethren” in Matthew 25:40. Thus shall be fulfilled the word of the elder prophet, “As soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8). He will be revealed as the long-waited-for Shepherd of Israel, who “shall stand and feed [or, shepherd] in the strength of the Lord,” and who shall give abiding rest to His regathered flock. His majesty and glory shall be made known throughout the habitable world, “for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth” (ver. 4). It is a connected prophecy of the rejection of Christ when He came in lowly grace, to be succeeded by His acceptance and world-wide acknowledgment when He comes the second time, in power and dignity becoming His exalted Person.

But the hour of His appearance will be the hour of Israel’s deepest sorrow. Jerusalem shall be compassed with armies. The Antichrist will be reigning, with blasphemous pretensions, in the city. The legions of the revived Roman empire will have entered into a league with him both offensive and defensive. From the south a fierce horde will be pouring into the land. From the north the dreaded power denominated “the Assyrian,” of whom Sennacherib was but as a type, will be marching down in exultant triumph, spreading desolation on every hand. “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle” (Zechariah 14:3), and “this [Man] shall be the peace.” He who has now made peace with God for guilty men by the blood of His cross; He who, seated as Man on Jehovah’s throne, is our peace; He shall be the Peace in that day; and in Him weary, distracted Israel shall find their rest.

The haughty Assyrian will be overthrown, and God’s chosen people delivered from his cruel power (vers. 5 and 6). Then, freed from all their enemies, “the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass,” bringing refreshment and blessing to all nations at the Lord’s bidding, and tarrying for none (ver. 7).

The lion of Judah’s tribe shall arise in His might, subjecting all enemies to His sway. Thus shall Israel have become the head, and nevermore be the tail (vers. 8, 9). Everything that has exalted itself against the Lord shall be put down. Evil of every kind shall be rooted out of the scene, and righteousness will be triumphant to the ends of the earth (vers. 10-15). It is the end to which all the prophets looked forward; so it becomes a fitting end to the second section of our book.

Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Micah 5". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/isn/micah-5.html. 1914.
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