Tuesday: A New Ruler From Bethlehem

In Micah’s book the mood often drastically changes from gloom to sublime hope.

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

This hope is seen in one of the most famous of all the Messianic prophecies.

Read Micah 5:2. Who is being spoken about here and what does this teach us about Him? See also John 1:1-38:58Col. 1:16-17.

Out of a little Judean town would come Someone from eternity to be a ruler in Israel. Micah 5:2 is one of the most precious biblical verses written in order to strengthen the hope of the people, who eagerly awaited the ideal Leader promised by the prophets. His rule would usher a time of strength, justice, and peace (Mic. 5:4-6).

David was a native of Bethlehem, a town also called Ephrath (Gen. 35:19). The mention of this town stresses the humble origin of both David and His future successor, who would be the True Shepherd of this people (Mic. 5:4). In the humble town of Bethlehem the prophet Samuel anointed Jesse’s youngest son, David, who was to be king over Israel (1 Sam. 16:1-1317:12). When the wise men came looking for the new-born “king of the Jews,” King Herod asked the Bible experts where to search (Matt. 2:4-6). They referred him to this passage, which foretold that the Messiah would come from the small town of Bethlehem.

As incomprehensible as it is to our finite and fallen minds, that baby born was the eternal God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. “From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 19. However incredible the idea, it is one of the most foundational truths in Christianity: the Creator God took upon Himself humanity and in that humanity offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. If you take the time to dwell upon what this teaches us about both the value of our lives and what we as individuals mean to God, you can have a life-changing experience. When so many people struggle to find purpose and meaning to their existence, we have the foundation of the Cross, which not only anchors us in what our lives mean, but also gives us the hope of something greater than that which this world ever could offer.



Tuesday: A New Ruler From Bethlehem — 10 Comments

  1. I'm glad that the almighty God made himself so small. Although He is one with the Father, He decided to be one of us. Although He lived among exalted angels in Heaven, He consented to live among fallen people on Earth. Although He deserved the best castle and a throne in Jerusalem, He preferred to be born in a manger in the insignificant city of Bethlehem. While people so low compared to Him, just like Lucifer, want to play big and self-important, He set a beautiful example of humbleness and self-denial. Jesus love was shown in abnegation and it had its extreme point at the cross. My cross!

  2. Once when God came this world He refered to be the Lord of the nation, a humble man in wich we can put our faith, although world seems to be in ruin He promise to provide a straight and secure way in the middle of the darkness for their people to pass in security.

  3. Read in full Micah chapter 5 does not support the idea that the Messiah is Jehovah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. This is what seems to be implied in this lesson.
    In fact, a clear distinction is made between the Messiah and Jehovah in Micah 5:4, where Jehovah is described as the Messiah's God. This exact sentiment is confirmed explicitly by Jesus himself in John 20:17. Jesus also confirms the same concept when he quotes Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18-19, and also when he quotes Psalms 110:1 in Matthew 22:41-44. Jesus and the scripture in Micah have been careful to distinguish between the Messiah and Jehovah Himself. This renders the idea implied in the lesson as contradictory to both the source text for the lesson, Micah 5, and Jesus' testimony which also confirms other Old Testament declarations.
    How then can we understand what is being said at the end of Micah 5:2? It is saying that Jesus' coming was foretold of old. The addition of the word “everlasting” (KJV) is there to add emphasis, as indeed Jesus' coming was foretold from the very beginnings of time (Genesis 3:15).
    Two other clear points of information concerning the Messiah are given in Micah 5:2-3: (1) The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); (2) He was to be of the tribe of Judah, brother to the sons of Israel (Micah 5:3; Revelation 5:5) These two points indicate that the Messiah was a man, born in the flesh and confirm Jesus' description of himself as the, “Son of Man” (Matthew 8:20; Mark 2:10, Luke 6:22; John 3:14) and declarations such as John's (1 John 4:3).
    The point that Jesus was a flesh and blood man, the same as us, is an important part of the plan of redemption. Only then could he be tempted at all points and prove himself worthy. Only then could he be the lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and giving us an opportunity to live eternally. His sacrifice was a supreme act of love from “the good shepherd” (John 10:14-18).
    It is important that scripture is read in full. It is by concentrating only upon Micah 5:2 that the mistakes made in the lesson occurred, whereas a full reading of the entire chapter puts it properly in its context.

    • I agree with you, Lowel, when you say, "It is important that scripture is read in full." We also need to be careful not to exclude scripture that doesn't seem to support our view. For that reason we should take Micah in the context of the entire Bible and draw a conclusion from the preponderance of scripture on the subject we are studying.

      While I fully agree with you that, "The point that Jesus was a flesh and blood man, the same as us, is an important part of the plan of redemption. Only then could he be tempted at all points and prove himself worthy" I also see a necessity for the Messiah to be fully God. I believe scripture supports both views.

      In the New Testament John is the strongest advocate for the divinity of Jesus but certainly not the only one. When he states that, "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (Jn. 1:3 NKJV) I think that is about as inclusive a statement there is. Jesus made everything that was ever made! Did He then make Himself? There are other texts in the New Testament that affirm the same idea that Jesus was the one who created everything (Eph 3:9; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2). Even in Revelation it says, "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created" (Rev. 4:11 NKJV) which was written by the same John that said that "All things were made through Him," the "word," the one that John the Baptist testified to. But then Revelation is talking about the one who was seated on the throne.

      Then there is the previous text in the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn. 1:1 NKJV). Not "a god" as the New World Translation has it. There are a lot of reasons both in the Greek and theologically for translating it as equivalence to God rather than an additional god (lower case). For instance, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9 NKJV) and "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6 NKJV). Then there is, "'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us'" (Matt. 1:23 NKJV).

      Paul writing to the Philippians concerning Jesus said, "being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:6-8 NKJV). What does it mean to be in the form of God then coming in the likeness of men? Further, what did Jesus mean when He said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" (Jn. 8:58 NKJV)? The Jews wanted to stone Him for that saying just as they wanted to do during another occasion:
      "I and My Father are one." Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God" (Jn. 10:30-33 NKJV).
      Did they understand something that you apparently are missing? And these kinds of texts are only the tip of the iceberg. I haven't even gone into the many times that the disciples of Jesus worshiped Him which would be against the commandments if He were only a man for God commands us to only worship Him yet Jesus never rebuked them for doing what they did. Even the angels refuse worship (Rev 19:10; 22:9) but Jesus didn't.

      The Christian church has adopted the theological position that Jesus was both fully man and fully God because the scriptural evidence for it is overwhelming. As for Micah 5:2, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting" (NKJV) the phrase "goings forth" is from one Hebrew word, "mowtsa'ah" which means, "origin, place of going out from 1a) origin 1b) places of going out to or from" (Strongs data in BibleWorks). His origins were from everlasting not the prophesy concerning Him.

      • Dear Tyler,

        God's scripture does not contradict itself. It is straight and consistent. This being so, one cannot weigh seemingly contradictory concepts from one part of the scripture against other parts, then draw conclusions from a preponderance. An understanding must be found that reconciles all of the scripture, otherwise it is our understanding that has failed. As you do not seem to refute that Micah 5 makes a clear distinction between the Messiah and Jehovah, then you see that it contradicts any understanding that the Messiah is Jehovah, the creator of heaven and earth. Add to this that the same distinction is made by Jesus himself, not only once in the same words, but several times (see my previous post).

        Taking Micah in context with the entire bible only serves to confirm his words. That Jehovah is the creator of heaven and earth is declared throughout the Old Testament without equivocation. In the Old Testament the primacy of Jehovah as creator is never disputed. Indeed several times Jehovah says in scripture that he made the heavens and earth, (Exodus 20:11; Isaiah 42:5) with his own hands (Isaiah 48:13; Jeremiah 27:4-6; Job 38:1-41; Job 39:1-30) and alone (Isaiah 44:24). The question now that you would seem to have proffered is, “Is the Messiah Jehovah?”

        You have put forward only two Old Testament texts that you believe proposes that the Messiah is Jehovah. These are Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 7:14 (Quoted in Matthew 1:23). Choosing the same prophet who makes several statements distinguishing the Messiah from Jehovah should have given you pause (Isaiah 11:1-5; Isaiah 42:1-8. Isaiah 53:1-12). Had the two texts been intended to say that the Messiah was Jehovah, then Isaiah would have been contradicting himself. As it is this can be shown not to be the case.

        The text from Isaiah 9:6 can be easily dismissed by continuing to Isaiah 9:7, which talks about the Messiah's kingdom lasting forever, and how this will be so because the zeal of Jehovah will make it so. Thus Isaiah once again distinguishes between the Messiah and Jehovah. Even had this not been the case, calling the Messiah a “Mighty God” does not make him the Supreme God, just as calling Moses a god, (Exodus 7:1) did not make him the Supreme God, nor does calling us gods (Psalms 82:6) elevate us to the Divine Throne.

        In the same vein just because Isaiah 7:14 calls the Messiah Immanuel, does not make him God. it was common for the people of Israel to have and use names that incorporated the name of God. Jehoram means “Jehovah raised”, Joshua means “Jehovah-saved”, Jehoshaphat means “Jehovah judged”, Elijah means “God of Jehovah” and Jehu means “Jehovah is he”. These are all names which were given to men who were undoubtedly not to be thought of as the Supreme God.

        Let me now turn to the New Testament. Of the Gospel writers it is only John's words that have been used to intimate that Jesus is the creator of heaven and earth. Let me at this time reiterate my point of contention. I have no problem with Jesus being divine. God is his direct Father, and that makes him so. Just as the Prince of Wales is Royal because of his parentage. Jesus, however, is not Jehovah which means that He did not create the heavens and the earth. None of the other Gospel writers is ever cited to make such an assertion. John tells us explicitly why he wrote his Gospel – so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we may have life in Jesus' name (John 20:31). This statement would be another scriptural contradiction, had he started his Gospel by saying that rather than being the Son of Jehovah that Jesus was Jehovah himself. This alone should render one very reluctant to make of John 1:1-3 what has been made of it. Moreover, it is in the Gospel of John that Jesus makes a definitive statement of his mission: John 3:16. These words of Jesus himself define Jesus' relationship to Jehovah. Jesus is Jehovah's son and not Jehovah himself.

        It is possible to read John 1:1-13 in a way that is in keeping with what he writes in the rest of the New Testament: Keep in mind that the entire passage talks only about Jehovah and aspects and expressions of Jehovah. Jesus is not mentioned until John 1:14.

        In your post you state, “Even in Revelation it says, 'You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created' (Rev. 4:11 NKJV) ”. You are correct in saying that the same John wrote this. You also point out that Revelation is talking about the one who was seated on the throne, who was Jehovah. ( A similar scene was described in Isaiah 6:3.) Once again, you have but to read further in the Revelation narrative to Revelation 5:5-7, where you find the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” taking the scroll from Jehovah's hand. This scene makes it clear that Jesus and Jehovah are two distinct beings. It also once again reaffirms the point that Jesus was a man, of the tribe of Judah and brother to Israel.

        You have asked what Jesus meant when he said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). First of all, it should not be forgotten that this entire chapter of John's Gospel is full of statements where Jesus provides clear indications of his status compared to God's. For instance he tells them that he is a man and that spoke truth to them which he heard from Jehovah (John 8:40). Getting back to your question, the same Greek expression translated as “I AM” (John 8:58) is exactly the same expression translated as “I am he” earlier in the same chapter (John 8:24). In this verse Jesus is saying to the Jewish rulers that they would be doomed if they failed to believe that he was the one promised, the Messiah. What Jesus is saying to them in John 8:58 is that he was the one promised before Abraham was born.

        Your reference to the Jewish rulers looking to stone Jesus because he, being a man made himself God (John 10:30-33) also does not affirm that Jesus is Jehovah. Jesus himself answers this charge in the very next verses where he points out that men in general have been called gods in the Scriptures. Moreover, Jesus goes on to identify himself as the “Son of Jehovah”, not Jehovah himself (John 10:34-36).

        The remainder of your references from the New testament which seem to suggest that Jesus is the creator all come from the writings of Paul (if we allow that Paul wrote Hebrews). Here again we encounter a problem that requires resolution. Could the same Paul who attributed the creation world and all things in it to Jehovah, and talks about Jehovah judging the world by a man that He appointed and raised from the dead (Acts 17:23-31), say that somebody other than Jehovah created heaven and earth? In this text Paul makes a clear distinction between Jehovah, the creator of heaven and earth and Jesus. If Paul was then to say otherwise, this would once again introduce contradictions in Paul's words, suggesting that he couldn't keep his thoughts straight.

        We can rescue God's word and Paul's intellectual reputation – not that it really needs rescuing – by careful examination of the seemingly contradictory texts. In the rendering of Ephesians 3:9 NIV omits the trailing words “through Jesus Christ”, though it appears in the KJV and some other translations. This is because these words were added to some Greek manuscripts, but does not appear in all. (As an explanation please allow me to offer this reference from BiblicalUnitarian.com/verses/ephesians-3-9: 'A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament' notes that the omission of the phrase is “decisively supported” by the texts, as well as by the “early patristic quotations” [i.e., the places where the Church Fathers quoted the verse].)

        I have already discussed Colossians 1:16-17 in a previous post, where I explain that the passage talks only about Jesus creating, “thrones, dominions, principalities and powers”, and not rocks, trees, mountains and stars etc. (http://ssnet.org/blog/2013/01/further-study-jesus-creator-of-heaven-and-earth/comment-page-1/#comment-49025).

        The Greek word “aion” translated as “world” or “universe” in Hebrews 1:2 actually means ages. Compare the word “aion” with “cosmos” used in Acts 17:24 which is correctly translated as “the world”. Thus Hebrews 1:2 is talking about Jehovah using Jesus to define the ages or temporal periods. If you look at other places where “aion” is used, such a meaning easily fits into the text.

        The expression “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9) is similarly used of us (Ephesians 3:19). Thus the expression cannot be used to distinguish Jesus as the Supreme God unless it can also be similarly applied to us too, which is of course impossible.

        In reconciling Phillipians 2:6-8 with the understanding that Jesus is not Jehovah, it can be found once more that the solution is provided by reading the entire context of the passage. We can see from the immediately proceeding verse (Philippians 2:5) that all the expressions found in the following verses should be in our minds too - they apply to us too. We are to follow Jesus' example and not think it robbery to be equal with God, or rather to to behave in a Godly way. And yes, we are in the form of God too, just as Jesus is ( Genesis 1:27). The passage then goes on to say that Jesus was highly exalted by Jehovah because of his faithfulness (Philippians 2:9). Thus here Paul once again makes a clear distinction between Jesus and Jehovah.

        I think that I have demonstrated that the New Testament writers' understanding of Jehovah as the Supreme God and distinct from Jesus is completely in keeping with the Old Testament. Both are in accord and do not contract each other. Indeed I beg to disagree with you when you say that the texts that you gave saying otherwise are the tip of the Iceberg. The ones you gave are the principal texts that try to say that Jesus is Jehovah the creator, and there are very few more than that. That Jehovah created the heavens and the earth is a theme which pervades the Scriptures, and greatly outweigh any that can b understood otherwise. Nonetheless, scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) and most be found to be consistent. Contradictions cannot be allowed to stand.

        In closing I must appeal again to the corroborative testimony of Jesus' own words, which are so often ignored, but at our peril (John 10:27-28). He always deferred to Jehovah (John 14:28), he always pointed out that he did not choose to come but was sent by Jehovah (John 6:57; John 7:28), He told us that he was not Jehovah (John 20:17) and finally when asked what was the greatest command he started his answer with,”Hear O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29).

        • Lowel, thank you for your detailed reply. Most Christian Denominations believe in the trinity including the Seventh-day Adventist Church not because they are messed up mentally but because they see an awful lot of evidence in the Bible that says the Jesus is equal to God.

          Because your reply is so long I will only mention a few things then I will present two links to the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference which represents the entire church. They along with a lot of people in other denominations including a very large number of scholars from history have spent an enormous amount of time on the subject and came to the conclusion that there are three persons that make up the Godhead which is considered one God.

          I am not arguing that Jesus and God are the same physical substance but that they are equal in authority, do much of the same things, and have the same attributes. You state, "In reconciling Phillipians 2:6-8 with the understanding that Jesus is not Jehovah, it can be found once more that the solution is provided by reading the entire context of the passage. We can see from the immediately proceeding verse (Philippians 2:5) that all the expressions found in the following verses should be in our minds too – they apply to us too." True, that is what Paul wanted them to be thinking like but that doesn't undo the example Paul uses. Paul states that Jesus was in the form of God then condescended from that form which he uses as an example. That says a lot about the relationship Jesus had with the Father during His 30+ years on the earth. He put aside all the prerogatives He once had and subjected Himself to the Father's will (He humbled Himself to the point of death).

          You said, "Getting back to your question, the same Greek expression translated as “I AM” (John 8:58) is exactly the same expression translated as “I am he” earlier in the same chapter (John 8:24). In this verse Jesus is saying to the Jewish rulers that they would be doomed if they failed to believe that he was the one promised, the Messiah. What Jesus is saying to them in John 8:58 is that he was the one promised before Abraham was born." What you seem to be clearly overlooking is what God said to Moses:

          Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them,`The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me,`What is His name?' what shall I say to them?"
          14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel,`I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exod. 3:13-14 NKJV)

          It is this name of God that Jesus is obviously referring to in Jn 8:58 otherwise what He said makes no sense linguistically.

          I am also sorry that you apparently have such a low opinion of John's Gospel especially when dealing with the first few verses as though they weren't inspired like the rest of the Bible is (2 Tim 3:16). I also don't understand how you cannot make the connection between "the Word was with God" (Jn. 1:1 NKJV) and "the Word was God" (Jn. 1:1 NKJV). Even though there is no article involved what is called the Kai Rule or Colwell's Rule applies which makes the words "word" and "God" equal in the Greek of this verse.

          That is as much as I am going to say in this comment. The rest of the story can be found in the following articles from the Biblical Research Institute:

  4. [Moderator Note: Please use full name when commenting, thank you!]

    The fact is He humbled himself from being a God to being a nobody, to mix with the sinners and sining world, to condemn sin in its true nature, bridge the gap between the creator and His creature and show humanity the path to redemtion and salvation, from Rolex

  5. Tuesday teaches us that we need to lower our self, humility is vital in a christian, God lower himself to live amongst us, born in a meager and suffered for us.This means that God loves us and he does not want us to die sinful.

  6. Thank you Lowel for your enlightening comments! We also had a similar debate at our class as regards Micah 5:2 and Micah 5:4! You are spot on!


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