There is a passage in Micah 5 that provides a major clue to what is going on here. Verse 2 is usually the only one quoted; because it speaks of the birth of Jesus, prophesying that it will take place in Bethlehem. Verse 3 is a little harder to figure. It concerns the blindness and restoration of Israel to take place at the second coming. And verse 4 alludes to the Glory of the Second Coming.
Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
Here in Micah 5 verse 2 is the Father speaking prophetically of his son who was to be born in Bethlehem. He is said to come forth unto me meaning he will come out of Bethlehem and return to the father. He is to be ruler in Israel meaning he shall reign as King of Kings, the Messiah spoken of in Isaiah 9.
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Also to say his goings forth are from old, and everlasting, is clearly referring to an eternal being, one of the trinity.
Then in verse 3 we read Therefore will he give them up. 'He' of course refers to Jesus, the Messiah in his earthly ministry at the first coming. 'Therefore he will give them up' speaks of giving up Israel because they rejected him at the first coming. He is giving them up but only for a certain time; until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth. The giving up is a reference to the blindness spoken of in Romans 11.
Romans 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
111 say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Romans verse 25 mentions the fullness of the Gentiles, and notice how verse 12 mentions the fullness of the Jews. The number of Israeli's [Israelites] to be saved is called the fullness or the full number or the full completion. The word used here can also be translated multitude, a lot of people.
The second part of Micah 5:3 reads until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth. This tells us that the time of the fullness of the gentiles, which leads to the removing of the blindness, is linked to the time that she which travails has brought forth. So what's that all about?
Travail refers to the pain of childbirth. It can be used describing judgment coming on someone, or describing the process of intercessory prayer or repentance. Here are some quotes on travail. In Galatians it is used speaking of intercession. In the quotes following it tells of repentance. In John, travail is linked with sorrow, and in Second Corinthians sorrow is linked with repentance. Then in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Revelation it speaks of she which travaileth.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, John 16:20-22
20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
2 Corinthians 7:10
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
8 Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
Zion here can mean Israel, the church or both. Travail is a purging process that goes with repentance. So the passage from Isaiah is talking about travail and repentance producing results in one day. And the whole passage in Micah 5:3 is saying He will give them up until they repent! We are looking forward to a time when the blindness or hardness will be removed from Israel. As this happens, the heavens are open and the light of the gospel will be free to shine upon those who before were enemies of the gospel. How can this be done for an entire nation or people at once?
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