d. 5:5b-9 The Control of the Kingdom
In the context of chapter 5 of Micah, the section 5:5b-9 depicts a future time when the covenant people of God, (the remnant, vss. 7, 8) will defend themselves by the strength of their Messianic leader, (He, mentioned three times in vs. 6). This section contains three aspects of the future kingdom, (1) overpowering strength of the Messiah and His people to defend their land against future enemies, stated as “the Assyrians” representing all future nations that oppose or assault Israel; (2) the messianic kingdom will rule over all other nations existing at that time, stated as the “land of Assyria” and “the land of Nimrod” again representing all nations and (3) the actions of the remnant of God’s covenant people who will be living in the these nations likely at the beginning stages of the messianic kingdom.
5b If the Assyrians should come into our land
and attempt to tread down our fortresses,
then we will marshal seven shepherds against him,
yes, eight commanders.
6 They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword,
and the land of Nimrod with a drawn sword.
He will deliver us from the Assyrians,
when he comes into our land,
and when he tramples within our border.
Some scholars1 include the first phrase of vs. 5, “And this one will be our peace,” in their comments on vss. 5-6, which could also fit the context of chapter 5 as a link between the discussion of vss. 2-4 and that which follows in vss. 5 and following. This study of Micah includes this phrase in vss. 2-5a as best suiting the description of the Messiah which concludes with the glorious revelation that the One born in Bethlehem, who will give security as a shepherd to His flock, will be the source of their well-being (peace).
Vss. 5b-6 is a separate statement within vss. 5b-9 portraying a future time of the victory of the covenant people of God over those nations who will oppose them and attempt to conquer their land. The victory of these people also includes their ruling over the lands of their enemies. The description of these enemies as “the Assyrians” and the “land of Nimrod”2 may cause some to consider that Micah may be prophesying of a time corresponding to his years of ministry. However, history does not record any instance of the people of Judah having deployed leaders and commanders against these nations. Indeed, when the Assyrians attempted to conquer Jerusalem, the people of Judah and their leaders were held captive within the walls of the city and it was only a divine act of God which saved them from being destroyed by the Assyrians, 2 Kings 19:35-37; 2 Chronicles 32:20-22 and Isaiah 37:36-37. The nation of ancient Assyria was certainly a reference by Micah representing future nations who will exist at the time of the establishment of the messianic kingdom as prophesized in Micah 7:12. See also Isaiah 11:11 and Zechariah 10:10. At the time of Zechariah’s writing, the ancient nation of Assyria no longer existed, so like Micah and Isaiah, Zechariah used the name Assyria as a reference typifying the actions of the peoples of future nations when the Messiah returns to establish His earthly kingdom.
When future nations attempt to invade the newly established messianic kingdom, they will be met with powerful resistance described by Micah in typical Hebrew literary terms as “seven….yes eight” leaders who will be victorious over these invaders. The sequence of “seven / eight” was stated by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 11:2. Other poetic statements of one number followed by a sequential greater number (three / four) is seen in Proverbs chapter 30, vss. 15, 18, 21 and 29. The prophet Amos also employed this technique in chapters 1 and 2 of his prophecy. The intent of Micah’s “seven / eight” statement in 5:5 is certainly that in this future period the covenant people of God living in Messiah’s kingdom will have enough leaders to successfully repel any invasion against them.
These leaders are described as (1) “shepherds,” Hebrew râ‘â, describing those who are given caring oversight of the people. In the O.T. the leaders of God’s people are often depicted as “shepherds,” most often describing those leaders who rule with evil intent, Isaiah 56:11; Jeremiah 2:8; 10:21; 12:10; 22:22; 23:1, 2; 25:34-36; 50:6; Ezekiel 34:2, 7, 8, 9, 10; Zechariah 10:3; 11:5 and 8. There are a few occasions where these leaders are described as faithful “shepherds,” Jeremiah 23:4 and Micah 5:5-6. Also named individuals are given the title of God’s shepherd as with Cyrus in In Isaiah 44:28 and Zechariah in Zechariah 11:4, 7, 9 and 15. On one occasion the description of “shepherd” likely refers to the future antichrist, Zechariah 11:16. However the most glorious and exalted description of a “shepherd” as the leader of God’s people is reserved for the Messiah, Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:12, 15, 23; 37:24; Micah 5:4; 7:14 and Zechariah 13:7.
These leaders are also described as (2) “commanders,” in the DASV, as “principal men” in the KJV, as “princely men” in the NKJV, as “princes of men” in the ESV, as “leaders of men” in the NASB, and NIV.
The Hebrew word for leaders is nesîyḵ, which has the meaning of “anointed,” “prince” or a “libation poured out.” In Micah 5:5 and 6b, the context clearly indicates an anointed prince (commander) given the task of righteously ruling over God’s covenant people. Since the context of 5:3-9 is that of the messianic kingdom, these leaders will fulfill their divinely appointed role with power to repel any assault on the kingdom.
These leaders in 5:6a are described as those who (3) will rule the nations that intend to invade, “our land,” the capital area of the messianic kingdom. This area will include the land within the physical boundaries of Israel, described in detail in Ezekiel 47: 13-23, which will be the principal home to the ethnic Jewish people who have been gathered from the nations to live in close proximity to their Messiah. All nations outside of this area will not be left without divinely appointed leaders who will rule over them. It is likely that any attempt by other nations to invade the land of Israel will occur either just before or in the early days of the messianic kingdom as the Messiah will be establishing His government and appointing His representatives and ambassadors. This early period will be short in duration which may be the intent of the 45 days mentioned by Daniel (1,335 minus 1,290 days) in Daniel 12:11-12. When the Messiah’s appointees set up their rulership over the nations of the earth, they will be empowered to rule these lands with great power, depicted in Micah 5:6a as with a sword. The imagery of the sword would have represented military might and overwhelming power to Micah’s audience. The real power over these nations will of course reside in their Messiah, Zechariah 12:1-9.
7 Then the remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples
like dew from the LORD,
like showers on the grass,
which no one can hold back,
or delay until humans are ready.
8 The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations,
in the midst of many peoples,
like a lion among the animals of the forest,
like a young lion among the flocks of sheep,
who as it goes through, pounces and rips in pieces,
and there is no one to rescue.
9 Let your hand be lifted up against your adversaries,
and let all your enemies be cut off.
Verses 7-9 describe the effects of having the “remnant of Jacob” living among the nations at the time of the future messianic kingdom following the return of the Messiah to “shepherd” His flock, vs. 4 and in the same context as those who are leaders in the kingdom defending it against attack from enemy nations, vs. 5 and in the same context as those of God’s people who will rule (“shepherd”) over these nations, vs. 6.
Micah describes the people of God living amongst the nations at that time as the “remnant of Jacob.” He used the same phrase in 5:8; and a similar phrase in 2:12, “remnant of Israel.” In 7:18 Micah spoke of the “remnant of his possession,” and in 4:7 the single word “remnant.” Refer to these verses and the Selected Topics Section for comments regarding the remnant. One of the purposes that God has for His remnant who will be living in the midst of foreign nations is that they will be a blessing to these nations like “dew” and “showers” which come from God to water the earth, vs. 7. Just as the blessing of water for the earth comes from God only and has no dependance upon humans who request them, so will the blessing of the remnant be among many nations. The final phrase of vs. 8 in the DASV, “or delay until humans are ready,” should be better rendered as “or wait for the sons of men.” (cf. KJV for this verse).
The remnant will be sought after as a guide to lead them to the Messiah as Zechariah explained, “This is what the LORD of hosts says: “Peoples and the inhabitants from many cities will come. 21 The inhabitants of one town will go to another, saying, Let’s go right now to ask the favor of the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts. I will go too. 22 Many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to ask the favor of the LORD. 23 This is what the LORD of hosts says: In those days, ten men from all the nations and languages will take hold of the skirt of one who is a Jew, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” Zechariah 8:20-23. See also Zechariah 8:13.
However, there is also another role that this remnant will have among the nations. They will be to these nations like a lion who rips is prey to pieces with no one to rescue them, vs. 8. Thus the remnant will be both a blessing to those who earnestly seek their Messiah and a terrifying lion to those who have oppressed His people. Isaiah also spoke of both of these actions as recorded in Isaiah 14:1-2,
“1 But the LORD will have compassion on Jacob,
and will again choose Israel,
and set them in their own land.
The foreigners will join with them,
and they will attach themselves to the house of Jacob.
2 The nations will take them,
and bring them to their place;
the house of Israel will possess them
for servants and for handmaids
in the land of the LORD.
They will take captive those who were their captors,
and they will rule over their oppressors. “
Foreseeing the future role of the faithful remnant of God’s people, Micah in 5:9 further explains that they will gain victory over their enemies. Those who have oppressed them among the nations will be “cut off” or destroyed. The DASV has the weaker “let” which begins both phrases of this verse. Other English versions have the more determinative and emphatic “will be” which gives certainty to the destruction of those who oppose the Messiah and His remnant. This certainty is also emphasized by the words of their Messiah in Micah 9:15. See also Isaiah 63:1-6 and Revelation 19:11-16.
Isaiah 11:11-16 also provides a description of the actions of the remnant who will be gathered from among the nations to come to live in Israel at the beginning of the messianic kingdom,
“11 In that day the Lord will set his hand again the second time
to recover the remnant of his people that remains,
from Assyria and from Egypt,
from Pathros and from Cush,
from Elam, and from Shinar,
from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
12 Then he will set up a signal flag for the nations,
and will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
and gather together the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.
13 The jealousy of Ephraim will depart;
those hostile to Judah will be cut off.
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
and Judah will not be hostile to Ephraim.
14 They will swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines on the west;
together they will plunder the people of the east.
They will put forth their hand on Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites will obey them.
15 The LORD will divide the gulf of the Egyptian sea;
with his scorching wind he will wave his hand
over the Euphrates River.
He will split it up into seven streams,
and enable people to cross over in sandals.
16 There will be a highway for the remnant of his people
that remain from Assyria,
like there was for Israel in the day
that they came up out of the land of Egypt.”
Notes for 5:5b-9
- Thomas E. McComiskey, Micah, page 429. Kenneth L. Barker, Micah, page 101.
- Refer to D. J. Wiseman, Nimrod, in the ZPE, Volume 4, page 440.
e. 5:10-15 The Cleansing of the Kingdom
During the establishment of the messianic kingdom, the Messiah will not only subdue foreign nations who had oppressed His people by having His leaders rule over them, vss. 5b-9, but He will also bring about conditions that will lead His people in Israel to totally depend upon Him. He will do this by destroying the implements of warfare, vs. 10 and by removing their dependance upon their walled cities and fortresses, vs. 11. The Messiah will also remove those who practice sorcery and divination by consulting demons, vs. 12. He will remove idols and idol worship and bring to an end the practice of participating in pagan rituals, vss. 13-14a. Cities and nations that have and continue to be disobey Him with be destroyed, vss. 14b-15 thereby establishing peace throughout His kingdom that will encompass all of planet earth (“for at that time he will be great to the ends of the earth, and this one will be our peace.” vss. 4b-5a). These verses all begin with a determinative statement by the Messiah, “I will.” These “I will” statements are designed to bring about the one aspect of the covenant people of God that had been missing throughout their long history, their total obedience to the One who created them and chose them as His unique people.
10 In that day, says the LORD,
I will cut off your horses from your midst,
and will destroy your chariots.
The section Micah 5:10-15 begins with the indicator of “in that day.” This clearly points to the verses that precede this section and the future prophecy of vs. 7, “Then the remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples,” and in vs. 8, “The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations.” This prophecy points to a far future period simply described as “in that day.” This “day” as has been seen within the context of Micah chapter 5, is the establishment of the messianic kingdom by the “this one” vs. 5a who will finally bring peace to God’s covenant people. This “one” can only be the returning Messiah who will be “great to the ends of the earth,” vs. 4b, and of whom, “of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:7, and “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, nor will its sovereignty be conquered by another people. It will break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it will last forever.” Daniel 2:44.
The prophet Ezekiel provides this summary of that “day.”
“Tell them, This is what the sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites from among the nations where they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them back into their own land. 22 Then I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king over them all. They will no more be two nations, nor will they be divided into two kingdoms any more. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their rebellions. I will save them out of all their unfaithfulness in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. So they will be my people, and I will be their God. 24 My servant David will be king over them; and they will all have one shepherd. They will also walk in my regulations, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 They will live in the land that I have given to Jacob my servant, in which your forefathers dwelt. They will live there, they, and their children, and their children’s children forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.
26 I will make a covenant of peace with them, it will be an everlasting covenant with them. I will settle them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forever. 27 My dwelling also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary will be in their midst forever.” Ezekiel 37:21-28
The Messiah, “in that day” according to Micah 5:10, will destroy all implements of warfare that His people have been depending on as a means of protection against their enemies. The reference to horses and chariots were terms Micah’s audience, c. 735-700 B.C., would have clearly understood as being major items that were necessary for conducting war or defending themselves from invasion from enemy nations. The fact that the Messiah would remove these items should have indicated to Micah’s audience that in a coming day they no longer will depend on implements of warfare. Their trust for safety, security and peace must only be placed in the person of their returning Messiah. A prohibition against amassing horses was given by God in Deuteronomy 17:16 which was ignored by Solomon, 1Kings 10:26-29. God’s people in the messianic kingdom could rightfully cite Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (NIV). See also Isaiah 31:1. The prophet Zechariah aptly summarizes this truth,
“I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim,
and the war horses from Jerusalem.
The battle bow will be cut off,
and he will proclaim peace to the nations.
His reign will stretch from sea to sea,
and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.”
11 I will cut off the cities of your land,
and will throw down all your strongholds.
In concert with the removal of implements of warfare, vs. 10, the returning Messiah, “in that day” will also remove any constructed defenses in their cities and any fortresses or strongholds designed to protect them from invading armies. This act by the Messiah would render them completely defenseless against their enemies. To this far future generation, this act would seem to be contrary to the way they had been living. They had just endured the terrors of living during the days of the great tribulation and many of them would have been surrounded by enemy forces just prior to their being set free by their Messiah to whom they had pleaded to return to rescue them.1
The destruction of the fortresses of the northern kingdom of Israel was prophesized in Hosea 10:14, but this came without the presence and protection of their Messiah. In that past day, the Assyrians invaded Israel, often named “Ephraim” and destroyed their cities and took their people captive, most of whom never returned to their land. Micah had also prophesized that the Judeans would also face the terrors of destruction of their land and exile of their people, Micah 1:16; 2:4; and 3:12. Both the northern and southern kingdoms faced the conquering of their beautiful promised land and the removal of their peoples from this land because of the continual wickedness and rebelliousness of their people. They had often been told by God’s appointed prophets to repent and return to true faith in God but they refused to obey these words and abused the prophets, God had sent to them. God did not stand to protect them but became their enemy.
The far future generation, “in that day” will also face the terrors of invading nations, Ezekiel chapters 38-39 and Zechariah chapter 14. But, the Messiah will come to their rescue and lead them to victory, Micah 2:12-13. When they have experienced the victory of the returning Messiah and have witnessed the establishment of His earthly kingdom and have had many of their own people being assigned positions of governing other nations, then they will faithfully trust in their Messiah and have no fear when He removes all physical defences they had put in place. They will then not be in a position of vulnerability for their God will be their source of safety and security.
12 I will cut off sorcery from your hand,
and there will be no more fortune-tellers.
The Messiah will also remove another aspect of their wicked self-dependance “in that day.” Occultic practices will finally be totally removed from their midst. Humans have a long and sordid history of seeking guidance and future knowledge from sorcerers, fortune tellers, shamans, mediums and others who practice witchcraft. These practices involved the acceptance of and dependance upon demons who willingly led them into the darkness of their evil environs and which lead their human collaborators to spiritual death.2 The law demanded physical death for those who practiced sorcery, Exodus 22:18. Moses and the prophets spoke against these occultic activities, Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:9-14; and Isaiah 8:19-20. However, Israel’s first king, Saul had sunken so low spiritually that he consulted a medium for guidance, 1 Samuel chapter 28. Occultic practices continue to plague humanity and will continue into the terrifying days of the great tribulation, as the last book of the Scriptures declare, “The rest of humankind, who were not killed with these plagues, refused to repent of the works of their hands or to give up worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood; which cannot see, hear, or walk. 21 They refused to repent of their murders, or their sorceries, or their sexual immorality, or their thefts.” Revelation 9:20-21. These practices will only cease when the returning Messiah eliminates them, “in that day.”
13 I will cut off your carved idols
and your sacred pillars from your midst;
you will no longer worship the work of your hands.
14 I will uproot your Asherah poles from your midst;
I will destroy your cities.
The Messiah continues the purge of His people’s wicked practices in vss. 13-14. Even from the early days of the history of those who were descendants of Abraham, idols were a cause of divisiveness, Genesis 31:19-42. God emphatically prohibited the making and worshipping of idols in the great declaration of the ten commandments, that He inscribed in stone, “You shall not make for yourselves a graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me.” Exodus 20:4-5. These words were preceded with the very first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3. At the heart of this issue of idol making and worship is that God has declared that He alone is God, there are no others and that He jealously guards the worship of His created image bearers. God declared, “Do not worship any other god for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14. Moses before reviewing the ten commandments with the Israelites said, “So today acknowledge and take it to heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath. There is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39. One of God’s severest rebukes against His people for worshipping the work of their hands is recorded in 2 Kings 22:16-17. However God also when reminding His audience of the fact that He alone is God, He offers hope, “There is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is no one besides me. 22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:21b-22.
In Micah 5:14, God specifically mentioned the Asherah poles which were a most vile image of Israel’s wickedness. These abominable images are mentioned over 40 times in the O.T. They are first mentioned in Exodus 34:14 in which God demands that His people cut down the sacred pillars, the Asherim, that the pagan peoples of Canaan worshipped. The Israelites were also commanded to not set up any sacred pillar, specifically the Asherah, because it was something that God hated. Deuteronomy 16:21-22. Asherah was considered a goddess of fertility3 in ancient near eastern societies and is often mentioned in the Scriptures along with the false god Baal, Judges 6:25, 28, 30; 1 Kings 18;19; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:3, and 23:4. See also Judges 2:13 and 3:7. These vile pillars, often associated with cult prostitution, were the bane of the Israelites for centuries and worship of images such as the Asherah will continue until the Messiah comes to uproot them.
The Messiah will also destroy the cities, likely indicating the places in which the worship of idols and pagan pillars were most concentrated. This mention of “cities” may also be a re-emphasis of the “cities” mentioned in 5:11, however, in the context of vss. 13-14, cities may be in contrast to the “groves” amongst the trees where Asherah poles were also prevalent. Thus, Messiah mentions the places where idol worship and the vile practices that accompanied this worship were carried out as being the sites that He will destroy. There will be no overlooked or hidden sites of idol worship in the messianic kingdom. The land will be cleansed of wickedness and rebellion.
15 I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath
upon the nations that have disobeyed.
The final “I will” of the Messiah will be executed upon the nations of the earth, “in that day” which have disobeyed Him. The Messiah will execute vengeance4 against all wickedness and rebelliousness against Him. Vengeance, Hebrew nâqâm, is uniquely a response of God to those who have been His enemy, “Vengeance is mine and I will repay them.” Deuteronomy 32:35. See N.T. application in Romans 12:9 and Hebrews 10:30. This vengeance is spoken of in Psalm 2:8-9, “Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them in pieces like a potter’s clay pot.” See also Revelation 12:5 and 19:15. Isaiah also spoke of the day of God’s vengeance, “For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of pay back for the cause of Zion.” Isaiah 34:8. It is specifically to be executed by the Messiah, “to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God.” Isaiah 61:2. It will be executed when the Messiah returns,
“3 I have stomped in the winepress alone;
and none of the peoples joined with me.
I stomped them in my anger,
and trampled them in my wrath.
Their juice splattered on my garments,
and all my clothes are stained.
4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and the year of my redeemed has come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was shocked that there was no one to lend support.
Therefore my own arm brought me salvation,
and my wrath sustained me.
6 I trampled down the peoples in my anger,
and made them drunk with my wrath,
and I spilled their lifeblood on the ground.”
The ancient patriarch Jacob, prophesized of the Messiah to come in the far future, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs, and nations will be obedient to him.” Genesis 49:10. This is a reference to the scepter, often an iron rod, of which the Messiah will (figuratively) yield, as a portrait of His power, to ensure the nations will be obedient to Him. These nations have disobeyed God by their failure to heed His call for them to obey Him and by oppressing His people.
The Messiah’s “anger and wrath” is an expression of his righteous indignation. These two words are often paired together in English translations of the Scriptures, a few examples of many, Deuteronomy 29:20, 23, 28; 2 Kings 22:17; 2 Chronicles 34:25; Isaiah 63:3 and 6. In the horrific days of the future great tribulation, those who will receive the mark of the beast and worship him will suffer forever from the anger and wrath of God, Revelation 14:9-11. The Messiah’s anger and wrath will be upon those nations that have “disobeyed,” which is the Hebrew word šâma‘. It occurs often in Micah’s prophecy, translated in the DASV as “hear” in 1:2; as “listen” in 3:1; as “hear” in 3:9; as “disobeyed” in 5:15; as “listen” and “hear” in 6:1; as “hear” in 6:2, as “listen” in 6:9 and as “hear” in 7:7. There is more intended than to merely listen or hear God’s word. The intention is to obey God’s word. Those who disobey His word will suffer His anger and wrath which is specifically true for those nations which will witness the Messiah’s vengeance upon them when He returns to earth to establish His peaceful and righteous kingdom.
Notes for Micah 5:10-15
- For a thorough description of these events and the corresponding Scriptures see Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, chapters 8-14.
- See Michael S. Heiser, Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ. Lexham Press, 2017.
- See description of the “Asherah,” see Kenneth L. Barker, Micah, page 105 and also his article on “grove” in ZPED, Vol. 2, page 851.
- For a description of ‘vengeance” see Thomas Constable, Micah, page 52.