Micah 5:2 predicts, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” The verse clearly speaks of a coming king in Israel, but does it predict the coming of the Messiah?
Micah 5:2 makes a couple of predictions. First, the birthplace of this future “ruler of Israel” would be Bethlehem Ephrathah. Since there were two locations known as Bethlehem at the time of Micah’s writing, the addition of Ephrathah is significant. It specifies the Bethlehem in Judah, the portion of Israel in which the capital, Jerusalem, was located. Bethlehem was considered “little,” or insignificant, among the cities of Judah, yet would serve as the birthplace of this future ruler.
Second, the coming ruler of Jewish background was one “whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days.” What else could this refer to other than the Messiah? Only the Messiah fits the description of a ruler in Israel whose origin was from times past. In fact, “from ancient days” is sometimes synonymous with “eternal” (as in Habakkuk 1:12). Only the Jewish Messiah could be a ruler in Israel from eternity past.
This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that the Jewish religious leaders in the first century identified Micah 5:2 as a Messianic prophecy. In Matthew 2, wise men from the East visited King Herod in Jerusalem and asked where the king of the Jews had been born. Herod assembled all the chief priests and scribes, and “he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea,’” basing their answer on Micah 5:2.
Only Jesus Christ fits the Messianic claims of Micah 5:2. He was born in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Matthew 2; Luke 2:1-20). Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the ruler of Israel (John 4:25-26). He also fits the description as being “from ancient times” or eternal (John 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17). No other ruler in Israel fits these requirements. Dozens of other direct prophecies in the Old Testament (some scholars cite hundreds) fit Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death.
Jesus told the Jews that the Law and the Prophets provided a clear witness that He was who He claimed to be. “These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” He said (John 5:39). Still today, those who investigate the prophecy of Micah 5:2 and other Messianic passages find compelling evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.