Micah 5:2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah... out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel
Beth means "house of"; lehem means "bread." Ephratah is the region or county which contains the small city. Thus Beth-lehem means "house of bread," very literally the home through which the "Bread of Life" would be born.
Herod the Great's counselors were smart enough to know of this Messianic prophecy (Matt. 2:1-10), but they expected a political and military leader, a king in the traditional sense, a challenge to the worldly power and authority of Herod. What should they have expected? Like the writings of Isaiah, this Micah prophecy speaks of his mortal birth and his millennial reign in juxtaposition.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder...
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom. (Isa 9:6-7)
Let's look at Micah's prophecy again:
But thou, Beth-lehem 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.
What were the Jews to think? How could they have known that the prophecy would require two advents of the Messiah to be fulfilled? One minute the prophet is speaking of the Messiah's birth, the next minute, he is speaking of his political rule. Both Isaiah's prophecy and Micah's suggest that the Messiah will be born to "be ruler in Israel," not to die as a vicarious sacrifice.
"All of the prophets wrote and prophesied of the Messiah (Jacob 7:11; Mosiah 13:33), but in the biblical writings of none but Micah do we have preserved the specific prediction of his birthplace: 'But thou, Beth-lehem 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' (Micah 5:2). There can be no mistaking: there is only one Bethlehem in Judah and there is only one ruler in Israel whose origins are from eternity. Even the chief priests and scribes understood clearly the prophecy when they quoted it upon Herod's inquiring where the Messiah should be born, and Herod was obviously convinced of the possibility, because he proceeded to issue his infamous order to exterminate the children around Bethlehem: 'And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule [Greek, "shepherd," "tend," "nurture"] my people Israel' (Matt. 2:4-6)." (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 74)
Micah 5:8 the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles... as a lion among the beasts of the forest
This doctrine is so important that it appears in 5 different places in the scriptures: Micah 5:8-9, 3 Ne 16:15; 20:16; 21:12; Mormon 5:24. It is repeated in scripture more than the 10 commandments or any prophecy of Isaiah. Why then are we unfamiliar with the doctrine and its meaning?
In the Book of Mormon chapters, the Lord explains that the remnant spoken of will include the latter-day descendants of the Nephites and Lamanites. It further identifies this prophecy with Book of Mormon lands. Micah, then, is giving us a uniquely American prophecy. This is the time spoken of when Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose (DC 49:24). But the remnant spoken of will also include all those Gentiles who have repented and been adopted into the House of Israel (see commentary for 3 Ne 16:15). Therefore, the best way to think about this remnant is as the kingdom of God on earth or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for they are the covenant people of the Lord (see v. 19). It is in this context, as members of the church and kingdom of God, that the lion will be "among the beasts of the forest."
According to the prophecy, this remnant is to be feared, for they are they, who...if [they] goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Well this prophecy sounds quite ominous! Do the Gentiles of the latter-days need to fear the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? According to the word of the Lord, they need to fear the power of God which will be among this people in the last days, for they shall have power after many days to accomplish all things pertaining to Zion (DC 105:37). One might think this prophecy sounds too violent. Certainly, it is hard to imagine the Church as a military threat to the Gentiles. Yet, over the course of the next several verses, we will see that the power of the Lord will be with his people but not necessarily interpreted militarily. Then once the Lord comes again, He will fight the battles of Israel on both continents such that Zion will strike fear into the hearts of the Gentiles. They may, even as prophesied, go through, treading down and tearing in pieces, but the final destruction will be at the hand of the Lord himself, "I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth" (Isa 63:6).
Bruce R. McConkie
Except for a few who are the humble followers of Christ, the Gentiles will not repent. They will revel in their abominations and sin against the restored gospel, and they will be burned by the brightness of our Lord's coming while the righteous -- here called the remnant of Jacob -- shall abide the day. And then, in the prophetic imagery, it will be as though the remnant of Israel overthrew their enemies as a young lion among the flocks of sheep. (The Millenial Messiah, p. 248)
Micah 5:9 all thine enemies shall be cut off
The scripture speaks of a time in which the kingdom on earth will make a mighty transition, from a religious organization to a political and social force. In the Millenium, the kingdom will be a theocracy, and the government shall be upon his shoulder (Isa 9:6). This is the time spoken of by Daniel, And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him (Dan 7:27). The kingdom spoken of is the same which he likened to a stone which was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces...and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Dan 2:34-35). The kingdom was to break in pieces the kingdoms of the earth then present, And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever (Dan 2:44). That kingdom is unmistakably the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This is the people with whom the Father hath covenanted. At the Second Coming, he will make them strong, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people (v. 19). But this will not be done with a military force organized among the saints, for the Lord has promised, "I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion; for, as I said in a former commandment, even so will I fulfil-I will fight your battles" (DC 105:14, italics added).
Mark E. Petersen
... in these, the last days, the Lord has predicted that there shall be two simultaneous movements. One of these movements is the great tribulation that shall come upon the world. The wicked will destroy the wicked.
The other great movement which will be going forward simultaneously is that there shall be a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and it shall roll forth and eventually fill the whole earth. The Church to which you and I belong is that stone. It has been cut out of the mountain without hands, and your destiny and mine is to help roll it forth. (D&C 65:2.)
Now do you suppose for one moment that the judgments of God are going to interfere with the progress of his work? He is consistent, isn't he? Although he will pour out his tribulations upon the wicked, he nevertheless will carry forward his work, and his people, under divine protection, will roll forth that stone until eventually it fills the whole earth.
And so says the Book of Mormon:
For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire. (1 Nephi 22:16-17.)
I believe that. In the midst of all these tribulations God will send fire from heaven, if necessary, to destroy our enemies while we carry forward our work and push that stone until it fills the whole earth!
Your destiny is to do that very thing, and this is the kind of protection you will have. You do not need to fear about world conditions. You do not need to fear about anybody. Just serve the Lord and keep his commandments and build the kingdom, and as you do so you will be protected in these last days. God will have his hand over you, and you can plan your lives in confidence. (Conference Report, October 1960, pp. 81-83)