The Person and the Rule of Messiah.

Having described the conditions and circumstances under which the period of Messianic glory would be established, the prophet now turns to the direct prediction concerning the person and the work of the coming Redeemer. V. 1. Now gather thyself in troops, namely, in order to resist the enemy, O daughter of troops, Jerusalem herself being so designated as the type of the Church Militant; he hath laid siege against us, rather, impersonal, "siege is laid against us," by the enemies which never rest; they shall smite the judge of Israel, the ruler of the people, with a rod upon the cheek, for the Messianic period was preceded by Judah's deepest humiliation, when all the former glory was taken away from the nation. But at this time of the deepest humiliation of the Lord's people the greatest glory of all would come upon it. V. 2. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, the little city of Judah south of Jerusalem being addressed with impressive solemnity, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, among the districts of the country containing a thousand families, the town being of little importance over against the mighty Jerusalem so near by, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel, the selection of the Messiah as the true King of Israel serving the Lord's plan of salvation, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Thus the Father's will and purpose from eternity was made manifest in the coming of the Prince of Peace. And even as His outgoings were from eternity, since He is the everlasting Son of the Father, so His generation as man is from Bethlehem, for as a true human being He became subject to time and permitted Himself, as a rule, to be governed by the limitations of space as well. V. 3. Therefore, because Israel, the people of the Lord, is to be redeemed not by his own power, but by the gracious gift of the Messiah, will He give them up, the Lord giving the covenant nation into the hands of the enemy, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth, until the Messiah would have been born; then the remnant of His brethren shall return unto the children of Israel, for at that time the Lord would bring together from the various nations of the world those whom He intended to add to His true Israel, to His spiritual nation. The humiliation of the house of David and of Israel had been included in the plan of God, but the final result would be that the Messiah, like His ancestor David, would go forth from the humble city of Bethlehem. To this end it was necessary for the people to remain under the rule of the enemies. V. 4. And He shall stand and feed, both ruling and nourishing, as the Governor and Shepherd of His people, in the strength of the Lord, He Himself being the mighty God, Is. 9, 6, in the majesty of the name of the Lord, His God, which was communicated to Him even in His state of humiliation; and they shall abide, namely, the true spiritual children of Israel; for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth, His kingdom, the Church of the New Testament, extending over the entire earth. V. 5. And this Man shall be the Peace, the name rightly applied to the Messiah by Paul in the wonderful passage describing the effect of His redemption for all mankind, Eph. 2, 14. Cp. Is. 9, 6. 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, or eight princes of men. This is a figurative description of the victories which the Lord and His kingdom would gain over all the powers of this world. V. 6. And they shall waste the land of Assyria, representative of all the hosts which rise up against the Lord, with the sword and the land of Nimrod, who was the founder of the first great world monarchy, in the entrances thereof, or, "with his gates," the overthrow of the gates signifying the capture of the entire city and country; thus shall He deliver us from the Assyrian, from all the powers of evil, when He cometh into our land, and when He treadeth within our borders. The enemies of the Lord may plan an invasion of His holy territory and even effect an entrance, but their eventual overthrow is sure to come. That these statements concerning the warfare of the Lord with His enemies do not conflict with the prophecy of chap. 4, 2. 3 is evident at once when we consider that in the former passage the representatives of the nations as chosen by the Lord for His own are pictured in their search for the Kingdom, while the present passage speaks of the overthrow of such as persistently refuse to accept the Messiah. V. 7. And the remnant of Jacob, the spiritual Israel, shall be in the midst of many people, literally, "in the midst of the abundance of the nations," as a dew from the Lord, with its refreshing power, as the showers upon the grass, with their life-giving strength, that tarrieth not for man nor waiteth for the sons of men, for the Word of God exerts its strength without the assistance of man. V. 8. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people, like a true city of the Lord, Ps. 46, as a lion among the beasts of the forest, to whom they must yield without question, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, his superiority being evident in every way, who, if he go through, both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. All these facts, described by means of such remarkable figures, are now brought out in a statement in the form of a prayerful prediction. V. 9. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, or, "High be thine hand above thine oppressors," and all thine enemies shall be cut off. Cp. Is. 9, 12. V. 10. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, at the time of Messiah's reign, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, ordinarily, the confidence of men, and I will destroy thy chariots; v. 11. and I will cut off the cities of thy land and throw down all thy strongholds, the fortresses and citadels which the pride of men erects; v. 12. and I will cut off witchcrafts, divinations by means of rods, drinking-cups, and other means, out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers, those who observed sky and clouds and made use of all kinds of sorcery and magic. V. 13. Thy graven images also will I cut off and thy standing images, those cast from metal, out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands. V. 14. And I will pluck up thy groves, those devoted to idolatrous purposes, out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities, namely, as fortresses and centers of warlike activity. All this is descriptive of the power which the Messiah exerts upon the hearts of the believers in weaning their hearts away from the vanity of this world and turning them to the one thing needful. Cp. Is. 9, 4-6. V. 15. And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard, rather, "who have not heard," who refuse to accept the rule of the Messiah. Concerning the progress of prophecy as evident from this chapter it is well to remember the words of one commentator: "The promise of the Redeemer at first was vaguely general. Gen. 3, 15. Then the Shemitic division of mankind was declared as the quarter in which He was to be looked for, Gen. 9, 26. 27; then it grew clearer, defining the race and nation whence the Deliverer should come - the seed of Abraham, the Jews, Gen. 12,3; then the particular tribe, Judah, Gen. 49, 10; then the very town of His birth, here."