Podcast: Play in new window | Download
We have now come to the conclusion of the first cycle of Micah’s prophecy. Here we find a brief word of consolation, which, given what has come before, stands out in sharp relief.
“I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: They shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. The breaker is come up before them: They have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: And their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them” (Micah 2:12–13).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
The woes declared have fallen, and it is time for the Lord to restore His people. The people were scattered, Israel first by Assyria, and Judah by Babylon. In verse 12, Jehovah promises to gather them up again. First He says that He will gather up “all” of Jacob, and then He says He will “surely” gather up the remnant of Israel (v. 12a). He will gather them into one great block, like the sheep of Bozrah. Bozrah was a very fruitful place, with lush pastures. The sheep there were plentiful, and God says that when He gathers His people back together again, it will be like that. They will all be like sheep in one fold (v. 12b). There will be a great noise, not because of any calamity, but rather because of the multitude of men. The sheep here in the figure are the men of the restored Israel. A “breaker” is going to come first, clearing the path for them (v. 13a). That breaker is going to make a way, and pass through the gate, and the people will follow him out. Once this is done, their king will arrive, and He will pass before them, the Lord at the head of them.
A GLIMMER OF HOPE
We have had almost two complete chapters of woe and judgment, and God here gives the people a glimmer of hope. The judgment is true, and it will be severe. Their sin was really bad, and God does not play pattycake with it. Nevertheless, even though it will be severe, it does not constitute the final backdrop to this story. God’s purpose throughout Scripture is always restoration, always deliverance, always salvation. Our God is the God who saves.
The restoration of Israel that is frequently promised in the Old Testament is a restoration that is accomplished in the foundation of the New Israel, the Christian church. Put another way, the Church is Israel now.
“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). There are many ways to make this point, but that should be sufficient. The true Jew is the one who is circumcised in heart, the one who is born again by the Spirit of God (Rom. 2:29).
WHO IS THE BREAKER?
There are different ways to take this, but my interpretation would be that this breaker is John the Baptist. There appears to be a distinction made between the breaker and the king who follows, and the preparation of the way of the Lord by the Elijah who was to come is a significant theme in both testaments.
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Is. 40:3).
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5).
“But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them” (Matt. 17:12).
Before the king arrives, preparations need to be made, and there was a divinely appointed messenger who came in order to make them. Those preparations consisted largely of repentance, and receiving a baptism of repentance.
JEHOVAH AS HEAD
Christ is the Head in the same way that a husband is the head of his wife (Eph. 5:23). He is also the Head in the same way that the head is the head of the body (Eph. 1:22). But He is also the Head in the same way that a general is at the head of his army.
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:10–11).
The captain of our salvation leads us out, like a great host. We follow after Him to a great victory. If you look at the Micah passage again, you can see that we are gathered like sheep, but then are mustered like men. It is a multitude of men, like a great army.
“And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power . . .” (Col. 2:10).
When we consider the nature of the final and complete judgment of God’s people in the Old Testament, the fact of the restoration of God’s people in the New is a marvel, only to be compared with the resurrection of Christ from the dead. In fact, considered with the eye of faith, the resurrection of Christ and the restoration of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones is all the same miracle.
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:12).