jesus-messiahMatthew was a Jew who knew Jesus and followed Him. He was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah that had been promised to God’s people and wrote his gospel pointing to evidence from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, then following Him is the greatest decision we face in our day. If He was not then the Christian faith is almost worthless. I want to look at just one of the prophecies that Matthew referenced and see if Jesus met the criteria of that prophecy.

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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:

because out of you will come a leader

who will shepherd My people Israel.[1]

Here we see that there were three groups of people mentioned in the passage. First, the wise men sought Christ. These men were not Jews, but they sought Him so that they might worship Him. Herod also sought Christ. Herod was a Jew, but he sought Jesus to try and destroy Him. Others, particularly those in Jerusalem, knew but did not seek They even knew the prophecies concerning Christ.

In this passage, the people quote the prophet Micah:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:

because out of you will come a leader

who will shepherd My people Israel (Matthew 2:6 HCSB).

In fact, here is the exact passage from the book of Micah as they quoted it:

Now, daughter who is under attack,

you slash yourself in grief;

a siege is set against us!

They are striking the judge of Israel

on the cheek with a rod.

Bethlehem Ephrathah,

you are small among the clans of Judah;

One will come from you

to be ruler over Israel for Me.

His origin is from antiquity,

from eternity.

Therefore, He will abandon them until the time

when she who is in labor has given birth;

then the rest of His brothers will return

to the people of Israel.

He will stand and shepherd them

in the strength of Yahweh,

in the majestic name of Yahweh His God.

They will live securely,

for then His greatness will extend

to the ends of the earth.

He will be their peace.

When Assyria invades our land,

when it marches against our fortresses,

we will raise against it seven shepherds,

even eight leaders of men.

They will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword,

the land of Nimrod with a drawn blade.

So He will rescue us from Assyria

when it invades our land,

when it marches against our territory (Micah 5:1-6 HCSB).

Here’s what strikes me as odd: Matthew referenced Micah and applied the prophecy directly to Jesus. Micah, though, was talking about a deliverer that would deliver the southern Kingdom, Judah, from the Assyrian army in his own day. It is no surprise that the Jews in Jesus’ time expected the Messiah to conquer Rome. Here I might just make a note of how important context is when we read Scripture.

According to Micah, this deliverer would be born in Bethlehem in Judah

He would rule over Israel His origin would be in eternity. He would return His brothers to the nation of Israel. He would shepherd them with the strength of YAHWEH and in the majestic name of YAHWEH. He will be their peace. He would rescue the Jews from Assyria.

In 2 Kings 19:35, we see the Assyrian army defeated and the later part of Micah’s prophecy come true.

That night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the next morning–there were all the dead bodies! (HCSB).

The angel of the Lord overthrew Judah’s opposition, but there was no birth in Bethlehem, no rule over Israel, and no return of His brothers to Israel: at least not until Jesus Christ is born. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He claimed to be one with God. This would mean His origin was in eternity and that he had the strength of YAHWEH and the majestic name of YAHWEH. It would also mean that He would serve as the judge over Israel. Jesus also taught that Samaritans and Gentiles had a place among God’s people. In fact, He sent His followers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28). It becomes clear that what Matthew, a Jew, is arguing here is that Jesus must have been present in Micah’s day rescuing Judah from the Assyrian army. Later, to fulfill Micah’s prophecy, was born in Bethlehem and died for the sins of all people. This is the only way that this prophecy can be fulfilled and Jesus accomplished it to the letter, and this is just one prophecy.

Here’s what this means for us: No matter our age, ethnicity or gender; every person has the ability to seek God and to approach God because of the work of the Messiah. If this is not true, then Micah was not right about the one who delivered Judah from the Assyrian army. Part of Christ’s mission is to bring His brothers back into the true nation of Israel: or the people of God. No matter where we are in life, what we think or believe; God has given us an amazing opportunity to seek Him. Why would we not take advantage of that opportunity? Why would we not invite others to also take advantage of that opportunity? I hope that everyone reading this will take advantage of the fact that he or she can seek God.

If you do not know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, now is the time to give your life to Him. He is the true Messiah: not just for the Jews, but also for all people.

[1] Matthew 2:1-6 (HCSB)

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