“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).
The place of the Messiah’s birth is specified. The Messiah would come out of Bethlehem Ephrathah. “Bethlehem’” means “house of bread” (Note: out of “the house of bread” would come “the bread of life”). “Ephrathah” means “fruitfulness”. Both names are used to distinguish the place from another Bethlehem located in Zebulun (Joshua 19:15).
The Bethlehem of this prophecy was located in Judah (cf. Mt. 2:1-6). This town was located about five miles SW of Jerusalem. It was the home town of David (1 Samuel 16:1-13; 17:12; Luke 2:4, 11). In Jacob’s time, it was called “Ephrath” (Genesis 35:16, 19; 48:7).
However, Bethlehem was not this one’s beginning. His “goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). He existed before John the baptizer (John 1:29-30), before Abraham (John 8:58), and before the world (John 17:5 cf. John 1:1-3, 14). He, like the Father, is “everlasting” (Micah 5:2 cf. Psalm 90:1-2). Isaiah likewise spoke of this everlasting nature (Isaiah 9:6).
“Hear O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign: For behold, I am bringing forth My servant the Branch” (Zechariah 3:8).
Joshua was the high priest at the time (Zechariah 3:1; 3:3; 3:6; 3:8; 3:9; 6:11). His “companions” may refer to his fellow priests, or to his fellow Israelites. They were “a sign” (NKJV), or “men wondered at” (KJV). Their return from captivity was a thing to be wondered at; it was amazing how dry bones returned to life (cf. Ezekiel 37). It was a sign of God’s workings. It was according to prophecy (2 Chronicles 36:21-22; Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10; Daniel 9:2; Ezra 1:1).
However, God was not done. He would bring forth “the Branch”. This branch refers to the Messiah who would come out of Jesse/David’s lineage (Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-ff).
“For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold I will engrave its inscription, says the LORD of host, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day” (Zechariah 3:9 cf. Acts 2:36-38).
The stone, we before have seen (Daniel 2:34-35; 44-45). The stone is the coming kingdom (Daniel 2:44-45). Notice: This kingdom is connected with forgiveness (Zechariah 3:9). There are seven eyes fixed upon this stone. The number seven is sometimes used of fullness or completeness. Homer Hailey suggests that the reference is to “the completeness and fullness of God’s watchful care over His people and His promise that He would bring forth a kingdom which should never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44), which would endure forever (Daniel 7:14) in spite of the opposition of all heathen powers” (A Commentary on the Minor Prophets, p. 337).
“In that day, says the LORD of host, everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree” (Zechariah 3:10).
This language is connected with the coming church (cf. Micah 4:2). This is language of peace (1 Kings 4:24-25; Isaiah 4:25; 36:16; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10). In this world there will be tribulation (John 16:33). Yet, He provides us with a peace which passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).
“Behold, the man whose name is the branch! From his place he shall branch out, and he shall build the temple of the LORD … He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on his throne. So he shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zechariah 6:12-13).
Zerubbabel rebuilt the physical temple (Zechariah 4:8-9). However, this refers to the future. This is something to be done by the Branch, who would function in two offices (notice the term “both” in Zechariah 6:13). Zerubbabel did not function as both king and priest. Paul affirms that Jesus is the branch (Romans 15:12 cf. Isaiah 11:1, 10). Furthermore, understand that the church is at times referred to as a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:19-21; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5).
The Messiah would simultaneously occupy two offices (Zachariah 6:12-13; Notice the term “both,” two offices are in view). This same point is made in Psalm 110:1-4, where Jesus’ priesthood is illustrated by that of Melchizedek. Melchizedek functioned as both a king and a priest (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1); so also does Jesus (Psalm 110:1-4; Zechariah 6:12-13). Jesus is king (Matthew 21:5; 27:11; John 18:36; 1 Corinthians 15:25; 1 Timothy 6:15 cf. Revelation 19:11-16), and priest (Hebrews 3:1; 5:4-ff; 6:20; 7:21). No king or priest in Israelite history ever held both of these positions, but the Messiah would (and does!).
Consider the implications (1) the reason that no king of old served as priest has to do with the old law. The kings came through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17). The priest came through the tribe of Levi (Numbers 16:40; 17:1-9). The only way that anyone could lawfully serve as both is for the law to be changed (Hebrews 7:12-14). (2) The Messiah’s reign was to be prosperous (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Yet, Jesus could not have a prosperous reign from Judah (Jeremiah 22:24-30 cf. Mt. 1:11). Thus, Jesus’ reign must not be from Judah. The truth is, he reigns even now (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). His reign is from heaven (cf.Daniel 7:13-14).