“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. And this man shall be the peace, 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 principle man.”
About a year ago we were requested by correspondent from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to give our views on this portion of the scriptures, but deferred a compliance; not because we had no views on the subject, but fearing that the particular part of the text on which our correspond desired light was equally obscure to us. Nor are we yet prepared, after so long a delay; but we do not feel justified in withholding such views as we have because there are some expressions in the passage that we do not clearly understand.
The allusions made by the inspired writers in the New Testament to this prophecy leave us no ground to doubt that the person described, who should stand and feet in the omnipotence of the Lord, is the Ruler who came out of Bethlehem Ephratah, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. In Matthew ii. 6 and vii. 42 this prophecy is referred to in proof that Christ should come of the seed of David, and out of Bethlehem were David was. The second chapter of Luke is also very clear in applying this prediction to the birth and birthplace of Immanuel. Joseph and Mary when up from Galilee into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David. And the angel of the Lord, in announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, said, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David the Savior which is Christ the Lord.” “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherd said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” The distinguishing honor of making Bethlehem the birthplace of the Messiah was not in recognition of the greatness or of the piety of that place, for it was little among the thousands of Judah; and there being no room for his reception in the inn, does not speak well for their piety. But that the purpose of God and fulfillment of the scriptures should be accomplished, it was brought to pass. Thus the Son of God, the Lord from heaven, the brightness of his Father’s Glory, and the express image of his person, in his incarnation was made a little lower than the angels, was made flesh and dwelt among us, was made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, and came to do and suffer all that was needful to redeem his people from their sins, and to fulfill all that was written of him in the law, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, and into a send up to where he was before, to be glorified with his Father’s own self, with all the Glory which she had with him before the world was.
In the description given of him in the second verse of this fifth chapter of Micah, is to our mind set forth the self-existent and eternal Godhead, the be gotten Sonship, and the fleshly incarnation of him who is to rule Israel, and who shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God, and in the most perfect harmony with all the scriptures which testify of him, as God, Man, and Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” or as expressed in the margin, “from the days of eternity.” As comprehending in his infinity the days of eternity, an inspired apostle ascribes to him the most sacred homage, as “Unto the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only wise God.” And as the man, Christ Jesus, he is set forth as the one Mediator, embodying both natures in his Mediatorial fullness. The fullness of the Godhead, and the fullness of the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” – Col. i. 19. He is the Word who in the beginning was with God, and he is the Word which in the beginning was God. And he is the Word which “was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his Glory, the Glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” – John i. 1, 14, 16. In the Godhead he and the Father are one. – John x. 30; xiv. 7-11. And in his Mediatorial Headship of the church he and his people are one. – John xvii. 21-26. He is in the Father, and the Father is in him. – John xiv. 10. The churches in him, and he is in the church. – Eph. i. 4; John xvii. 23.
The glorious Mediator, who was born of the virgin, in the city of David, in Bethlehem Ephratah, ordained to be the Ruler in Judge of Israel, who shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, did exist in the Glory of his Mediatorial Sonship and Headship of the church in all the days of eternity. Not in a fleshly body, for that was not taken on him until the fullness of the time had come in which he was made flesh, and became incarnate; but as the Son of God, and the Mediatorial Head of his mystical body, the church, his goings forth were of old, from everlasting. It is in his Mediatorial relation as the eternal Son of God, and Judge, Ruler and Shepherd of Israel, that he came out of Bethlehem, to stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, and in the majesty of his God. Of him all the profits have written, identifying him as the Redeemer who should come out of Zion, to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. The enraptured Isaiah, by the word the Lord, proclaimed his advent thus, “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lifted up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently leave those that are with young.” – Isa. xl. 9-11. Here the supreme Godhead in Mediatorial office and work of the Shepherd of Israel are clearly expressed, in perfect union with Micah’s testimony, that he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord. His goings forth from everlasting, (or as in the margin, the days of eternity), signify action, as well as purpose and design, and are a reproof to those who deny that God actually chose, loved and saved his people in Christ, or that the church actually existed in him, or was actually blessed with all spiritual blessings, according as they were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, or from the days of eternity. If the words have any meaning, goings forth signify action; and all that pertains to the eternal life and salvation of his body, the church, was fully provided, treasured up, and secured to all his members in him, according to the eternal purpose which God purposed in himself before the world began.
If we have a correct understanding of this profoundly grand, glorious and sublime subject, the Son of God was as truly, actually an immutably the eternal life and spiritual head of his body from everlasting, or from the days of eternity, as when he became part acre of their flesh and blood in his incarnation, or will be when he shall present them in his own image and Glory in their final resurrection, clothed with his immortality and incorruptibility, when time shall be no more. But we pass on to consider the Decree and promise in our text.
“And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the lord.” It is comforting to know that he shall stand, despite the wrath and opposition of wicked men and devils, unmoved by all the raging powers of darkness which he would have to encounter and subdue. His goings forth from the days of eternity should bring into the standing position which he was ordained to fill as the Shepherd in Bishop of his people, to minister to them all the spiritual blessings which were given them in the days of eternity. “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirsting more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” – Rev. vii. 15-17. But his standing shall not be in the strength of the Kings or potentates of the earth, nor by the aid of earth, nor earthly devised institutions, nor in the multitude of free-willers who profess to be “working for Jesus;” but it shall be in the strength of the Lord. All power in heaven and on earth is in his hands. Power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him. He has upon his vesture and upon his thigh his power inscribed, “King of Kings and Lord of lords;” for all the power of his eternal Godhead dwells in him. Therefore it is in the majesty of the name of his God, who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he stands and feeds his flock with a shepherd. The Father being in him, and all the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in him bodily, with heaven and earth at his command, the power and majesty of the name of his God are far beyond and infinitely superior to all opposition. The majesty of that awful name belongs to him by inheritance as the Son of God, and in that majesty he is God with us, the true God and eternal life, shining in all the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person. Only so far as we’re led experimentally, and taught by the Holy Spirit, can we conceive the supreme power in majesty of the name of God in which the great Shepherd of Israel feels his Mediatorial relations to his people; for only as God shines by his spirit in our hearts, we can have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining in the face of his dear Son. Yet, not withstanding our dullness and insufficiency to comprehend the excellent glory of our divine Redeemer, he stands to feed, and deals to all the redeemed vessels of his love and mercy in all the refulgent glory and supreme majesty of the name of his Father and our Father, of his God and our God. And they who from his fullness are fed on the bread of life which came down from heaven, whose flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed, shall abide; for he has said for their comfort and assurance, “I give unto them eternal life: and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” – John x. 28-30. In this oneness in perfect identity with the Father, Jesus Stanton his supreme majesty to feed and protect his people; and because he lives, they shall live also. The Lord is their Shepherd, therefore they shall not want; they must to buy, for the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
“For now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.” Has this prophecy evidently related to the gospel dispensation, the setting up of the Redeemer’s kingdom among the Gentiles, and abolishment of the partition which under the old dispensation had separated the Jews from the Gentiles, it foretells the wide dominion of our King, extending from the Rivers unto the ends of the earth. As Jesus himself said to his disciples, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, [in the majesty of the name of his God,] and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sat upon the throne of his Glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats,” &c. – Matt. xxv. 31, 32. Invested with power over all flesh, over all beings, all events, and all worlds, in all the majesty of his eternal power and Godhead, now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
“And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come unto our land.” The word man in this is marked by Italics, as supplied by the translators; but the supply does not, in our judgment, materially change the sense, as he whom it is used to identify is God and Man, and in the sacred union the two natures he is the Mediator between God and men. All his Mediatorial work is performed in the majesty of the name of God, for “The God of the whole earth shall be called.” – Isa. liv. 5. He shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces. As the Assyrians were the enemies of Israel, and the lands of Israel were frequently invaded by them, and as a chastisement of Israel for their idolatry and departures from the laws and provisions of the covenant they were under, God use the Assyrians as a rod in his hand, with which to chastise them. “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their land is mine indignation.” – Isa. x. 5. Indeed the whole chapter is illustrative of the manner in which the Assyrians were used as a rod in the Lord’s hand for the punishment of Israel, invading their land, and spoiling them of their treasures, and polluting their palaces, and thus foreshadowing the persecutions that the people of God under the gospel dispensation should experience from the powers of darkness. We’ll Israel were never able to successfully resist the Assyrians; nor are the people of God now able to resist the enemies of the truth by any power short of that which is in the hand of their glorious Prince and Savior, who with his bow and with his crown in righteousness doth judge and make war, and seated on the white horse which John in vision saw going forth conquering and to conquer. It is written of him that “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 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 forever.” – Isa. ix. 6, 7. Not only is he our peace has the propitiation for our sins, who has by his obedience and atoning sacrifice canceled all the demands of divine justice, and hushed the thunders of his holy law, and so making peace by the blood of his cross, but also in meeting and vanquishing all our enemies. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In an experimental sense, although in the world we have tribulation, yet in him we have peace. His piece he gives unto us, and we sweetly enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And when the invading foes of Zion shall impose themselves upon our land, and attempt to usurp the right to rule in our palaces, our protection is in Christ, who shield of power is mighty in our defense. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob.” – Isaiah lix. 19, 20. “Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principle men.” The number seven has frequently been used in the scriptures to signify a competent or perfect number, and we feel assured that God will not leave himself without a sufficient number of witnesses. As there were seven churches in Asia, and in each church an angel, pastor or shepherd, seven golden candlesticks, seven stars in the right hand of him who is dead, but is alive for evermore, and has the keys of hell and death, so the number 7 May in this case be used to signify a sufficient supply for all the several branches of the kingdom over which this Ruler should preside. And the eight principle men may have a reference to the prominent gifts, as prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, mentioned Eph. iv. 11, but more especially to those inspired writers in the New Testament. Whether this is the true meaning of the seven shepherds and eight principle men are text are not, we will not presume to decide; but we are fully persuaded that on all occasions when the house is of the church of God or invaded by Indians, the faithful servants of Christ in defending the truth do bring to bear against the invaders the testimony of those who have written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost against them. As it is written, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up the standard against him.” – Isa. lix. 19.
We submit what we have written on the subject to the consideration of our inquiry correspondent, and to our readers general, only desire that our views may be received so far as they are sustained by the word and spirit of our Lord, but no further.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 7.
April 1, 1881