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The Prophet Micah and The Remnant

From S. Lewis Johnson’s Micah series, a look at Micah 5 and the description of the remnant.

The very word “remnant” suggests the tragedy of apostasy. So many are gone, only a few left.  Yet after apostasy, the very fact of a remnant also suggests the hope of a return.  God’s electing purpose continues.  In Micah 5 it is further called “the remnant of Jacob” and so we think of the weakness of the man Jacob, but also of the great covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The book of Micah contains three prophecies concerning the remnant:

  • Micah 2:12-13 — a prophecy of being taken into exile
  • Micah 4:6-7 — rescued and transformed, safe from attacks,  and
  • Micah 5:7-9  — the remnant a blessing to the nations

In Micah 5:7-8, the remnant “in the midst of many peoples” is described in two comparisons that may not mean much to us in modern city life, yet which had great meaning to the people of Micah’s day.  In verse 7, the remnant will be “like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass.”  In verse 8 the remnant is “like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep.”

We don’t especially think of dew as all that important, but it turns out to be very significant for Israel, a rather dry and arid place.  Israel has a rainy season and a dry season, and the dry season lasts from spring until fall.  The crops can only grow there because of the night-time breezes that come in from the Mediterranean Sea, which comes over and pours a very thick dew onto the land during the night, when the land is cool and thus benefits from dew.

Dew is also mentioned a few other places in the Old Testament.  The story of Gideon and the fleece is the best known one, in which Gideon gains assurance from the Lord through signs from God:  dew on all the ground except the fleece, and then dew only on the fleece and not the ground.  Even earlier, though, comes Genesis 27:28 — Isaac’s blessing to Jacob includes the line “​​​May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.”

Showers further remind us of God’s providence and blessing.  We cannot make it rain.  The dew and the showers have their source in the Lord and His sovereign grace.

Now to verse 8, the lion and young lion:  whereas dew is a silent blessing of the Lord God, a lion suggests irresistible power.  Israel will be the aggressor among the nations, and the other nations like the weak beasts of the forest.  For the lion theme we can also look back to Genesis 49:9, Jacob’s final words to his sons:

​​​​​Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

Numbers 23 and 24, Baalam’s prophecies, also speak of God’s people Israel as a lion.

  • Numbers 23:24  ​​​​​​​​Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up and as a lion it lifts itself;
  • Numbers 24:9 — ​​​​​​​​He crouched, he lay down like a lion and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.”

Within the lion theme, and this “blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you” statement in Numbers, we again find reference to the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:3:

I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Micah 5:8 concludes with “none to deliver” and here we see the power of the remnant of Jacob, as the representative of the Lord God upon the earth.  Verse 9 concludes with a command, “Thy hand be lifted up over your adversaries, thy enemies be cut off.”

In the prophecy of Micah we again see the recurring theme of God’s covenant with Abraham and His covenant people Israel, and we eagerly await the day when this prophecy, part of all the prophetic word, comes to fulfillment in our Lord’s Second Coming and the restoration of Israel.

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