Micah prophesies the birth and second coming of Jesus in context with the end-time fall of Jerusalem. Along with seven other nations that God raises up, Jesus defeats Antichrist's empire, liberates Jerusalem and establishes his Millennial reign on earth.
In this chapter, Micah identifies Bethlehem as the birth-place of Israel's Messiah, Jesus (v2). However this chapter spans a wide view of history, with minimal regard to chronology, and like chapter 4, primarily focuses on end-time events surrounding Jesus' second coming and the beginning of the Millennium.

Verse 1 foresees Jerusalem under siege, and Israel's ruler struck on the side of his face with a club, staff or scepter, which was an act of humiliation. Scholars interpret verse 1 in various ways. It could be seen as a reference to Jerusalem being besieged and conquered by the Babylonians, in which case the ruler in view is King Zedekiah. Some interpreters might see this as a reference to Jesus, who was struck on the head with a staff (Matthew 27:30) and in the face (John 19:3), but Jesus' humiliation and suffering did not coincide with a siege of Jerusalem. It could be seen as the humiliation of Israel's rebel leaders at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, what makes the most sense to me is that verse 1 is a reference to the siege of Jerusalem by the Antichrist, when Israel's wise ruler will be destroyed according to Micah 4:9. It is in context to the fall of Jerusalem (v1) that Israel needs its Messiah king to arise and shepherd Israel in the Lord's strength (v4). Consequently, the birth of this Messiah in Bethlehem is briefly referenced in verse 2, which is like a flash back in time, relative to the end-time events in view in the rest of chapters 4 and 5.

According to verse 2, Israel's Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judah, and will one day emerge to rule over Israel on God's behalf. His origins are, literally, "from the past, from the days of antiquity" (NET Bible notes). From a New Testament perspective (e.g. John 1:1), this mysterious statement points to his divinity.

Returning to the context of the end-time fall of Jerusalem, verse 3 tells us that 'the people of Jerusalem will be handed over to their enemies until the time when the woman in labor gives birth'. This woman in labor is a repeat of Micah's portrayal of Jerusalem in 4:9-10. Jerusalem screams and groans like a woman in the agonies of labor when she falls to the Antichrist. According to this metaphorical portrayal, her relief will come when she gives birth to her king, in other words, when Jesus arrives. So verse 1 refers to the literal historic birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. But in verse 3, Jerusalem giving birth is a metaphorical portrayal of the arrival of Jesus as her Messiah king who brings relief from the agonies of labor that are caused by her fall to the Antichrist in the end times. Revelation 12:1-6 develops this portrayal further, with some variation, and is important to consider in interpreting Micah 5. Revelation 12:1-6 says, "Then a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet, and on her head was a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was screaming in labor pains, struggling to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadem crowns. 4 Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days". Here in Micah 5, the pregnant woman is Jerusalem, but in Revelation it is Israel in a more general sense. Israel's Tribulation labor coincides with Satan and his demons being cast out of heaven to the earth. Satan desires to devour Israel's child as soon as he is born, in other words, to kill him as soon as he arrives. Verse 5 clearly identifies her child as Jesus. According to Zechariah 14:2-5, when Jerusalem falls, half the city escapes into exile, at which point Jesus appears and splits the Mount of Olives to facilitate their escape. According to Revelation 12:5, Jesus is then caught back up to God and to his throne at that point, and Israel proceeds without him to her place of safety in the wilderness where she will be taken care of for the remaining 1,260 days of the Great Tribulation. At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus then appears in glory at the seventh trumpet, and leads Israel back to Jerusalem for the battle of Armageddon.

Verse 3b tells us that the rest of his countrymen will then return and be reunited with the people of Israel (the Jews). The 'rest of his countrymen' refers either to the lost tribes of Israel or to the rest of the Jews still in exile among the nations.

According to Micah in verse 4, Jesus then assumes his post (or arises) and shepherds his people by the Lord's strength. He gives them peace and security, and he will be honoured by the whole world, even in its most distant regions. This is a picture of his Millennial kingdom, securely established.

Verse 5 then flashes back again to Antichrist's invasion of Jerusalem, "when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men" (KJV). 'The Assyrian' is a translation of the Hebrew 'Asshur', the eponymous ancestor of the Assyrians (Genesis 10:22). It could refer to an individual 'the Assyrian' as translated by the KJV and NIV, in which case it refers to the Antichrist. It could also refer to 'the Assyrians' as translated by the NET bible, in which case it refers to his armies as well. The Antichrist is also called 'Asshur - the Assyrian' in Isaiah 10:5, 14:25 and 30:31. Ezekiel 38 identifies the Antichrist arising out of Turkey, which formed part of the Assyrian empire in ancient times. Hence the bible is consistent in calling Antichrist 'Asshur - the Assyrian'. Micah tells us that God will raise up against him "seven shepherds, make that eight commanders" (NET). In the Old Testament, shepherds metaphorically represent national rulers. So these are seven nations whose rulers rise to Israel's defence against the Antichrist. Along with Jesus, they make eight commanders. The seven nations match the seven kingdoms in Antichrist's end-time empire. According to Daniel 7, his empire emerges as a coalition of ten rulers, after which the Antichrist arises over them as an eleventh ruler who humiliates three of the original rulers. It may be that he simply rejects three rulers and their kingdoms from the coalition leaving it as a coalition of 7 Arab nations plus Turkey who rules over them as an eighth kingdom. They are resisted by seven Gentile nations that God raises up, plus Israel under the command of Jesus, making an eighth.

Verse 6 says, "And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian (Hebrew: 'Asshur'), when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders (KJV). Nimrod ruled over the kingdom of Babylonia, also called Shinar, in the south of modern-day Iraq (Genesis 10:8-10). Asshur arose out of Babylonia and established the city of Nineveh which later became the capital of the Assyrian Empire (Genesis 10:11). Nineveh is located in the north of modern-day Iraq, next to the modern city of Mosul, which was recently controlled by the Islamic State. So Micah seems to indicate that in response to Antichrist's invasion of Israel, this seven-nation coalition will invade and conquer Iraq. This may be a strategic move in order to use Iraq as a base for counter-attacking Antichrist and his ally Iran (Ezekiel 38:5). In addition to this seven-nation coalition, Micah says, "thus he shall deliver us from the Assyrian". This points to Jesus (the eighth principal man or commander) and his role in defeating Antichrist (Revelation 19:11-21). I note that Walid Shoebat, in his book 'God's War on Terror', sees in this verse an identification of Antichrist not only as 'the Assyrian' but also as 'Nimrod'. Personally I disagree, and see Micah's reference to 'the land of Nimrod' as a reference to southern Iraq.

In 4:13, Micah portrayed Israel threshing the nations alongside Jesus at the battle of Armageddon. Here in verses 7 to 9, he portrays the survivors of Jacob (Israel and Judah) subjugating the rest of the world after the battle of Armageddon. "They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep". This contrasts with how God devoured Israel as a lion, and Judah as a young lion, according to Hosea 5:14, with no-one to rescue them from God's wrath. Now in Micah, Israel and Judah become the lions that devour God's enemies among the nations of the world after the battle of Armageddon. Micah pictures them arising like dew that waits for no-one, to join in God's judgment of the wicked.

According to verses 10 to 15, the Lord (Jesus) will destroy and remove all forms of idolatry from Israel and the nations, when he angrily seeks vengeance on the nations that do not obey him. Symbolically, this means that in the Millennium, the nations will only worship God, and no other false god or religion. These verses also serve as an introduction to chapter 6, in which Micah's focus jumps back to ancient Israel in the 8th century BC. He then summons Israel to court, with the nations called as witnesses against her to testify of her wickedness.
Places: Bethlehem, Israel, Judah, Assyria
Symbols: Jerusalem in labor, Labour pains, Birth
Tags: Antichrist invades Jerusalem, Fall of Jerusalem, Literal birth of Jesus, Jerusalem in labour, Israel gives birth to Jesus, Restoration of Israel and Judah, Antichrist as the Assyrian, Antichrist as Nimrod, Resistance to the Antichrist, Israel triumphs over her enemies, Israel fights alongside Jesus, Jesus rules as king, Seven shepherds, Idolatry destroyed, No other religion in the Millennium
1 But now slash yourself, daughter surrounded by soldiers! We are besieged! With a scepter they strike Israel’s ruler on the side of his face.

A King Will Come and a Remnant Will Prosper

2 As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah – from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past.
3 So the Lord will hand the people of Israel over to their enemies until the time when the woman in labor gives birth. Then the rest of the king’s countrymen will return to be reunited with the people of Israel.
4 He will assume his post and shepherd the people by the Lord’s strength, by the sovereign authority of the Lord his God. They will live securely, for at that time he will be honored even in the distant regions of the earth.
5 He will give us peace. Should the Assyrians try to invade our land and attempt to set foot in our fortresses, we will send against them seven shepherd-rulers, make that eight commanders.
6 They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with a drawn sword. Our king will rescue us from the Assyrians should they attempt to invade our land and try to set foot in our territory.
7 Those survivors from Jacob will live in the midst of many nations. They will be like the dew the Lord sends, like the rain on the grass, that does not hope for men to come or wait around for humans to arrive.
8 Those survivors from Jacob will live among the nations, in the midst of many peoples. They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which attacks when it passes through; it rips its prey and there is no one to stop it.
9 Lift your hand triumphantly against your adversaries; may all your enemies be destroyed!

The Lord Will Purify His People

10 “In that day,” says the Lord, “I will destroy your horses from your midst, and smash your chariots.
11 I will destroy the cities of your land, and tear down all your fortresses.
12 I will remove the sorcery that you practice, and you will no longer have omen readers living among you.
13 I will remove your idols and sacred pillars from your midst; you will no longer worship what your own hands made.
14 I will uproot your images of Asherah from your midst, and destroy your idols.
15 With furious anger I will carry out vengeance on the nations that do not obey me.”