Now you are walled around with a wall;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the ruler of Israel
upon the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
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 live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.
If the Assyrians come into our land
and tread upon our soil,
we will raise against them seven shepherds
and eight installed as rulers.
Our ears aren’t accustomed to hearing prophecies. We sure hear a lot of promises—campaign promises, wedding vows, promises from brands that buying their product will improve our quality of life. But those promises are so often broken that we start to think promises hold no real weight. And we might think the same is true of prophecies. They won’t possibly come true, will they?
Don’t let your skepticism about promises color your hearing of this prophecy: from Bethlehem will come someone who will rule, not the way those promise-breaking politicians do, but like a shepherd. He won’t say one thing and do another. He won’t disregard his constituency. No, this leader cares for his people the way a shepherd cares for his sheep. He’ll stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord.
The people who heard this prophecy for the first time worried about the same things we do: what to eat for dinner, how to make amends with their mothers, whether their homes and land would be secure. And the prophecy can bring us the same comfort—comfort that we will live securely and in peace. The same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling Micah’s prophecy, will come again to reign as Prince of Peace. Come, Lord Jesus!
Prayer: Prince of Peace, I am eager for you to return. Some days, both the world and my life seem out of control and beyond repair. But I am trusting you to keep your promise to come and rule like a good and gentle shepherd. Amen.