New Defender's Study Bible Notes
5:2 Bethlehem-Ephratah. This remarkable prophecy of the birthplace of the coming Messiah was fully accepted as such by the Jewish scribes at the time of Christ (Matthew 2:4-6). Bethlehem, as indicated, was an insignificant village, hardly the place for a king to be born; there were numerous more likely cities in the land of Judah, especially Jerusalem. Yet the prophet foresaw, over five hundred years in advance, the unlikely village of Bethlehem as His birthplace.
5:2 from everlasting. The Messiah was to be brought forth as a baby in Bethlehem, but was also to have been “going forth” from eternity. Such an amazing prophecy sounds impossible, but was literally fulfilled when God became man, in divine incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ. The “goings-forth” of Deity also imply the perpetually outflowing energy which sustains the created universe, “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).
5:3 she which travaileth. “She which travaileth” probably refers both to Mary, the human mother of Jesus (Luke 1:31; 2:7), who “brought forth” Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem, and also to the age-long promise of the coming “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) who would conquer Satan. See also Revelation 12:1-17.
5:5 the peace. “This man” is the “ruler in Israel” and He is “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7), so He can put down all human rebellion and establish perfect peace in the world.
5:5 the Assyrian. Since Assyria was the chief threat to Judah at the time Micah was writing, many expositors assume that “the Assyrian” in this verse is simply a metaphor for all her enemies. The context in this passage, however, is strongly Messianic and prophetic, and Assyria was a dead nation long before even the first coming of Christ. With this context in mind, it seems most likely that “the Assyrian” here is a name for the Antichrist of the last days, the leader of the last great invasion of Israel before the second coming of Christ. He is an Assyrian not by nationality (the Assyrians of antiquity have long vanished from history) but by geography, since his capital will be at restored Babylon (see on Zechariah 5:5-11).
5:5 eight principal men. In the last days, the “Assyrian” (or Antichrist, or the Beast) will be seeking to establish his world government and especially to eliminate the nation Israel and all Christians in every nation. At that time, this particular prophecy will become clear. There has been no historical fulfillment of this prophecy as yet, which makes it even more obvious that the major context of this whole section must relate to the future. At that time, the Lord will raise up leaders —perhaps from Israel—to organize escape routes and resistance to the Assyrian’s armies and death squads.