5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past. This is one of the amazing major prophecies that is fulfilled literally in Christ. I wondered what "distant past" was in other versions. Check it out:
(NAS) His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.
(YLT) And his comings forth [are] of old, From the days of antiquity.
5:3-5 The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord's strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace. I feel that this prophecy is clearly a 2 level prophecy. Of course, it was already fulfilled by the physical birth of Christ coming to set us free spiritually from the grip of sin and death. The Israelites were in exile and there was silence from God for 400 years. The woman giving birth was both Mary and Israel. Since we haven't seen the second half of the passage fulfilled, I believe there is another level yet to be fulfilled by this passage—the birthing of the Son into His Kingdom at His second return to literally set free His exiles once again. There is a parallel passage to this in Revelation that I believe also applies on two levels-the first and second advents of Christ on earth:
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev. 12:1-9 selected
The woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars I believe is prophetic on a couple levels. First of all, after watching "Star of Bethlehem" last year, I realized that there was an alignment of constellations in the night sky near the time of Christ's birth (can be recreated on astronomical software) that depicted this. The constellation Virgo was aligned in such a way that the sun and moon were under her feet (I don't remember about the 12 stars). But I believe this also speaks of Israel, with the 12 tribes.
Red dragon probably also refers to Herod who awaited his chance to kill Jesus, as well as Satan who was behind the whole thing.
There appears to have been a great battle in the heavenlies. Throwing stars to earth likely refers to fallen angels.
Notice that the whole world is deceived by Satan. It appears at some point he was somewhat confined to earth. In the OT, we see Satan apparently interacting in the heavenly abode in several places (Job for one), but perhaps after Christ conquered the grave and "was caught up to God and to His throne," there was no longer room in the heavenly places (God's abode) for Satan and the demons. This is all a little bit of speculation with trying to put it together. Because of the futuristic implications of some of the verse, I think many people use it to say that Satan will be bound for 1,000 years on earth while the believers are taken to heaven (during the MK). I do not believe this. There is too much evidence in the prophets of a Kingdom set up ON EARTH.
5:7-9 Then the remnant [of Jacob] will take their place among the nations. They will be like dew sent by the Lord or like rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back and no one can restrain. The remnant [of Jacob] will take their place among the nations. They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a strong young lion among flocks of sheep and goats, pouncing and tearing as they go with no rescuer in sight. The people of Israel will stand up to their foes, and all their enemies will be wiped out. Speaking of the MK! This is a picture of the overcomers-chosen subduing evil on the earth.
5:15 I will pour out my vengeance on all the nations that refuse to obey me." The earth will be full of peace!
6:8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Obey, operate in mercy and love, and walk humbly with God! This is what it is to be an overcomer in daily life.
7:1-2 How miserable I am! I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest who can find nothing to eat. Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger. The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth. When you realize that the harvest is all about people, Micah explains what he means by no harvest in verse two. Apparently the world was extremely wicked and full of corruption in his day.
7:5 Don't trust anyone—not your best friend or even your wife! It took Papa most of his life of being double-crossed by "believers" to learn this lesson. I hope to be careful, but it is a delicate mix: loving people sacrificially while not fully trusting them. But it will become increasingly important in these last days!
7:7-10 This is a corporate prayer of the overcomers more than an individual prayer.
7:18-20 Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and unchanging love to Abraham, which You swore to our forefathers from the days of old.
7:14-17 I have always assumed that these were people who were martyred in "the Great Tribulation." But I read it a little more closely as well as did a little word study on "the tribulation" to find out exactly how it is used throughout the NT. I found that the Greek word, "Thlipsis" is the word being used for tribulation and throughout the NT, it is also translated: Anguish, affliction, persecution, trouble, and distress. After doing a bit of searching and studying, I decided that "affliction" is the best word for thlipses and it is also the word used consistently by the CLT for thlipsis (in place of tribulation). So these saints/overcomers described in Revelation appear to have come out of "the great affliction" and washed their robes. This does not necessarily mean they were killed. This passage is incredibly comforting though! Check it out in CLT:
And one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These clothed in white robes, who are they, and whence came they?" And I have declared to him: "My lord, you are aware." And he said to me, "These are those coming out of the great affliction. And they rinse their robes, and they whiten them in the blood of the Lambkin. Therefore they are before the throne of God and are offering divine service to Him day and night in His temple. And He Who is sitting on the throne will be tabernacling over them. They shall not be hungering longer, nor yet shall they be thirsting any longer; no, neither should the sun be falling on them, nor any heat, seeing that the throne-centered Lambkin shall be shepherding them, and shall be guiding them to living springs of water, and every tear shall God be brushing away from their eyes."
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