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The King who is like no other

Revolving doors can be great fun for children—they’re like an amusement park ride without the admission price. I think they’re also useful for helping us understand how the prophets speak to us.

If you choose to stay inside the revolving door for a few cycles, you’ll find yourself alternately inside the building and outside on the street—in rather rapid succession. Reading the prophets can be like being in a revolving door as they tend to abruptly shift between the present and future in a way that can have a dizzying effect upon us.

But they write this way for a reason. So much of what they have to say in the present has to do with convicting God’s people of their sin and urging them to repent. Yet as wise parents recognize, administering discipline is more than chastening—you must offer your children hope and encouragement in regard to the future. Without that, you can quickly exasperate them (Ephesians 6:4). So the prophets speak of the future—what it can be if people turn to God or what God is going to do (regardless of what they do) and don’t they want to be part of that now by responding to Him.

We see this revolving door pattern in Micah as he begins his message with a strong rebuke of Jerusalem and Samaria in 1:1-2:11. In 2:12-13, he speaks to their distant future in Messianic terms. Then in 3:1-12 he has more scathing words as well as an indictment for the false prophets of his day. In 4:1-8 it’s back to the future in a section that looks ahead to new covenant times (Acts 2).  Then he moves closer to his era as he speaks to the Babylonian exile and return in 4:9-10. Finally, in the remainder of the chapter he addresses what I understand to be the threat of the Sennacherib and the Assyrians during the time of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18-19).

They are dark days for Jerusalem. Although they will be delivered from the Assyrian threat their waywardness won’t change and it will eventually lead to the destruction of the city and exile of the nation under the Babylonians. But Micah sees better times for the city (and nation) coming. In 5:2 he tells us of a king who will arise in answer to the absence of a ruler that begins with the exile (4:9).

This is the same King who is alluded to in 3:13 and paradox abounds in Micah’s pronouncement regarding Him. The Great King will come from a humble little village (“small among the clans of Judah”). Its relative insignificance is witnessed by the fact that it carries the additional name of “Ephrathah” to distinguish it from another Bethlehem (Joshua 19:15). It is the city where David was born (1 Samuel 17:12) and it is the city where the Son of David will enter the world. And though this Great King will be David’s descendant His “origins” (literally His “goings forth”) are from centuries before his time. It is obvious that this King is like no ordinary king!

Only this King could provide Israel and us with the hope and help we desperately need.

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