Charles Simeon Commentary - Micah 5:7 - 5:7

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Micah 5:7 - 5:7

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Mic_5:7. The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.

IN this chapter we have as explicit a prophecy respecting Christ, as any that is to be found in all the sacred volume. His person is described in terms that can belong to none but Jehovah himself: “His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting [Note: ver. 2.].” The place of his nativity is expressly foretold, and so plainly mentioned, that all the Scribes and Pharisees at the time of our Saviour’s birth considered it as an indisputable point, that their Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem; and not in the Bethlehem that was in the land of Zabulon [Note: Jos_19:10; Jos_19:15.], but in Bethlehem Ephratah, which was in the land of Judah [Note: Mat_2:4-6.]. The establishment of his kingdom over the face of the whole earth was farther predicted [Note: ver. 4.]; and not only is the final restoration of the Jews to a participation of it declared [Note: ver. 3, 6.], but their agency in the conversion of the Gentile world is distinctly asserted [Note: The text.]. Whatever accomplishment the words of our text received in the apostolic age by the preaching of the Apostles and their immediate converts, they have respect to a period far remote from that age, a period yet future: they refer to a time, when Jehovah will gather his people from the four winds, and reign over them in their own land [Note: Mic_4:6-7.]; a time, when they shall vanquish all their enemies, as easily as a young lion prevails over a flock of sheep [Note: ver. 8.]; but shall be as rich blessings to others, as the dew or rain is to the thirsty earth.

To place this subject in a proper point of view, it will be necessary to shew,

I.       The original design of God in their dispersion—

Once they were numerous as the stars of heaven: but now they are reduced to a small “remnant;” and are scattered over the face of the whole earth. This judgment is designed of God,

1.       To punish their iniquities—

[Great and manifold were their transgressions, which caused them to be carried captive to Assyria and Babylon: but greater far has been their guilt in rejecting their Messiah, and “crucifying the Lord of glory:” and for that they have now been carried captive amongst all nations, and been reduced to the lowest state of degradation for the space of more than seventeen hundred years. The punishment inflicted for this crime is such as was foretold by Moses himself [Note: Lev_26:27; Lev_26:33. Deu_28:62-64.], and such as our blessed Lord also warned them to expect [Note: Mat_21:39-41.]. The Jews themselves see and acknowledge, that the hand of God is upon them on account of their sins: and it is God’s intention that his dispensations towards them should be viewed in this light by every nation under heaven [Note: Deu_29:24-28.].]

2.       To bring them to repentance—

[In this present world the judgments which God inflicts are all intended for good. It was “for their good” that God sent his people into captivity in Babylon [Note: Jer_24:5 and Mic_4:10.]: and for their good he has now scattered them over the face of the earth. The punishment inflicted on Levi for his cruelty to the Shechemites, was, that he and his family should have no lot among the tribes of Israel, but be scattered amongst them all [Note: Gen_49:5-7.]: yet was that overruled for their greater honour; they being appointed to minister in the sanctuary before the Lord; and pre-eminently honoured, as having the Lord himself for their portion [Note: Num_18:2-24.]. In like manner, though the present dispersion of the Jews is a heavy judgment, God inflicts it, not as the sentence of an inexorable Judge, but as the correction of a loving Parent: and the very circumstance of his transferring his regards from them to the Gentile world, is a yet farther expression of his parental love, it being designed to provoke his deserted people to jealousy, and thus to bring them to a renewed enjoyment of their forfeited inheritance [Note: Rom_11:11.]. “They are cast off only for a season [Note: Rom_11:25-26.];” and, “if they abide not in unbelief, they shall yet again be grafted on their own stem,” from which they have been broken off [Note: Rom_11:23-24.].]

But in the prophecy before us, our attention is particularly called to,

II.      The ulterior purposes which they are destined to accomplish—

The dew and rain are sent by God to fertilize the earth [Note: Isa_55:10.]: and in like manner are the Jews dispersed throughout the world,

1.       As witnesses for him—

[Whoever beholds a Jew, beholds a witness of the proper Deity of Jehovah. The whole of his history attests, that the Lord Jehovah is Lord of lords, and God of gods. Who amongst the gods of the heathen could ever have done for their votaries what Jehovah has done for his chosen people? Who amongst them could have predicted every thing that should befall them during the space of many thousand years? Who could have preserved their worshippers, as Jehovah has preserved his, unmixed with the people amongst whom they are scattered, and as distinct from all other people as they were when embodied in the land of Canaan? Other nations, that have been subdued and carried captive, have been blended at last with the inhabitants of the countries where they sojourned; but the Jews still, as formerly, “dwell alone” in the midst of the earth, as it was foretold they should do [Note: Num_23:9.]. Hence they, above all people, are witnesses of his godhead. And in this view God himself appeals to them, yea, and appeals to the whole universe on the authority of their testimony [Note: Isa_43:9-12; Isa_44:6-9.]. We may say then of the Jews in every place throughout the world, that they are living epistles from God to man, yea, are “epistles known and read of all men;” so that, whatever be the language of the country where they live, they do unwittingly, yet most intelligibly and unquestionably, proclaim, “The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God [Note: 1Ki_18:39.].”

They are witnesses also of all his glorious perfections. Who that sees a Jew can help seeing in him the power and love, which God manifested to his fathers in all the wonders of his grace; in their very origin from parents, who, according to the course of nature, could have had no children; in bringing them forth also out of the land of Egypt, and carrying them in safety to the promised land, and, in short, in all his other dealings with them to the present moment? Who can but see also the purity and holiness of Jehovah, as marked in the judgments inflicted on them? Is it not evident, that they are monuments of God’s wrath; and that, though God may spare long, he will at last visit the offences of his rebellious people? Above all, Who that sees a Jew, does not see in him the truth and faithfulness of Jehovah? God promised, that for Abraham’s sake he would not utterly cast them off: and, notwithstanding all their provocations, he still preserves them, in order to their future restoration to their own land, and their renewed enjoyment of his special favour. David, expatiating on all the glorious perfections of God, interrupts, as it were, his song by what appears, at first sight, to be an unsuitable and irrelevant observation; “He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel [Note: Psa_103:7.].” But this one observation speaks more than the whole psalm besides; for it embodies all that is more particularly expressed, and gives, what we may call, a graphical exhibition, or picture, of the Divine character; and in the fewest possible words shews us, what will be God’s conduct towards his people to the end of time. Precisely thus the sight of a Jew gives us a compendious view of all the Divine perfections, and sets God himself, as it were, almost visibly before our eyes.]

2.       As instruments in his hands to dispense his blessings to the world—

[The dew that floats in the air, and the clouds that are carried over the surface of the globe, are unconscious of the end for which they are sent; but they perform the most invaluable offices for the sons of men. In like manner the Jews are scattered through the world, unconscious of any particular good which they are destined to perform: but God designs to use them as his instruments, and by them to communicate the blessings of salvation to the whole world. This is plainly intimated in our text, and expressly declared by the Prophet Isaiah; “They shall declare my glory among the Gentiles, and shall bring them for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations [Note: Isa_66:19-20.].” Then shall be fulfilled, in its utmost extent, that prophecy of Zechariah, “It shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the Heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel, so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing [Note: Zec_8:13.].”

For this office they are fitted, having their own Scriptures in their hands, and understanding the language of the different countries where they sojourn: so that nothing is wanting but to have the veil removed from their hearts, and they are ready at this moment, each in his place, to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation through a crucified Redeemer. And with what energy will they proclaim the Gospel, the very first moment that their eyes are opened! How deeply will they themselves be affected; and how much therefore will they affect others! How will they, when they “look on Him whom they have pierced, mourn, and be in bitterness, even as one that is in bitterness for his first-born [Note: Zec_12:10.]!” And how ardently will they love, when they see how much has been forgiven them [Note: Luk_7:47.]! How will they emulate the example of their fathers, the Apostles, in their zeal to spread the knowledge of their Messiah! and, when they hear that their brethren in every country under heaven are engaged in the same blessed work, how will they vie with each other in their endeavours to serve the Lord! With what effect too will they deliver their message! They are known every where to be the bitterest enemies to Christianity. They will not therefore be regarded, (as Christian preachers would be,) as a people endeavouring to propagate their own religion, but as people renouncing their own religion from conviction, and calling upon all other people to follow their example. This will create an interest which no other people could hope to excite: and the simultaneous efforts of their brethren in every quarter of the globe, accompanied as they will be by the operations of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of men, will bear down all before them, like another Pentecost, and produce, as it were, a resurrection from the dead [Note: Eze_37:10. with Rom_11:15.]. “Then shall the heathen fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth his glory [Note: Psa_102:13-15. Mark the word “So.”]:” and then shall be literally fulfilled those words of the prophet, “A nation shall be born in a day [Note: Isa_66:8.].’

Now in all this they will be, not as the canals which were made by man, to water the earth [Note: Deu_11:10-11.], but as the dew or rain, “that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.” As the clouds are not formed by man’s device, or sent by the command of men, but owe both their original and their operations to God alone; so the Jews have gone to the ends of the earth, unsolicited, unsent, unconscious of their destiny; and in due time will exert such a genial influence on the souls of men, that “the wilderness shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose [Note: Isa_35:1.].”]

From hence we may see,

1.       In what light we should regard the Jews—

[It cannot be but that God, in dispersing the Jews over the face of the whole earth, has designed, that we should gather instruction from his dispensations towards them, and subserve in some secret way his purposes towards them.

Wherever we see a Jew, we should regard him as an object from whom we are to derive good, and to whom we are to do good. There is no creature under heaven from the sight of whom we may derive greater good than from the sight of a Jew. We have before said, that, whether intentionally or not, he proclaims to all, in the most convincing way, both the nature and the perfections of God. But there is one lesson in particular which we may learn from him, namely, the guilt and danger of neglecting the Lord Jesus Christ. It was for rejecting and crucifying their Messiah that God’s wrath fell upon that whole nation; and that it has now abode upon them for the space of almost eighteen hundred years. They knew him not; for “had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory:” yet, notwithstanding their crime admits of this extenuation, it has been visited with a punishment unprecedented in the annals of the world. What guilt then must we contract, and of what punishment shall we be thought worthy, if we “crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame,” by continuing in our sins! We profess to know him, and to honour him, and to expect salvation from him: our conduct therefore in pouring contempt upon him is aggravated in a ten-fold degree. O! how shall we escape? If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? If such judgments have been executed on them, what must be the end of us, if we obey not the Gospel of Christ? — — — Brethren, I entreat you never to look upon a Jew, without recalling to your minds this salutary and important lesson — — —

Yet be not content with deriving good from him, but put forth all your powers to do good to him. He, notwithstanding all the chastisements that are upon him, is still “beloved of God for his fathers’ sakes. And, if he is beloved of God, should he not be beloved of you? If God have designs of love towards him, should not you seek to be an instrument in God’s hands to accomplish towards him those gracious purposes? Can you think of the obligations which you are under to the Jews of former days, and not labour to requite them in their posterity? Or can you reflect on the purposes which are to be accomplished by the Jews in the present and future generations, and not endeavour to fit them for the work to which they are destined? If you have any love to the Gentile world, you should bestow all possible care on the instruction of the Jews, since it is by the Jews chiefly that the Gentiles will be brought into the fold of Christ. O! delay no longer to make this improvement of the circumstances before your eyes; but awake to all the calls of duty, of gratitude, and of love — — —]

2.       What ends we ourselves should endeavour to answer in our respective spheres—

[Doubtless we should not live for ourselves, any more than they: we should all be inquiring, What can I do for God? or, what can I do for man? This is truly Christian; or, rather I should say, it is god-like. God himself is represented as resembling the rain [Note: Hos_6:3.], and being like the dew [Note: Hos_14:5.]: and O! what glorious effects does his descent upon the soul produce [Note: Hos_14:6.]! Would to God that we might live for the same ends, and produce, according to our measure, the same effects! Let every one know, that all his faculties, and all his powers, are the Lord’s. Let all regard their time, their property, their influence, as talents committed to them by their God, to be improved by Him who has entrusted them to their care. If it be thought by any, that their talent is only as a single drop or two upon the barren ground, and too small to be of any use, let them remember, that a cloud is but an assemblage of drops; and that, if we only contribute according to our power, we may hope soon to see this “wilderness of ourszbecome as Eden, and this desert as the garden of the Lord [Note: Isa_51:3.]” We look for such a season both among Jews and Gentiles: and may we not expect it also amongst ourselves? Yes surely: if we were all, ministers and people, to unite our efforts for this end, God would be with us; our labour should not be in vain [Note: Isa_55:11.]: children should be born to God in this our Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all [Note: Gal_4:26-27.];” her children should be numerous as the piles of grass [Note: Psa_72:16.];” yea, “the birth of her womb should be as the dew of the morning [Note: Psa_110:3.].” May God give us to see such a season of revival in the midst of us, and throughout our whole land, for Christ’s sake!]