The ruler that God chooses will be born in Bethlehem
1 Soldiers in Jerusalem, come together!
Get ready, because your enemies are attacking you.
They are all round the city, ready to fight.
They will hit Israel's ruler on his face with a stick.
5:1Verse 1 This verse tells us again about the enemies who were coming to fight against Jerusalem. They will hit the king on his face, because they will almost win the war. This will show that they have authority over him. (An army from Assyria attacked Jerusalem in 701 BC but they did not completely beat Judah's soldiers. An army from Babylon came years later and beat them.)
2 But God tells us this:
‘Bethlehem Ephrathah is only a little town,
among all the many towns in Judah’, God says.
‘But I will choose someone who is born there.
He will rule Israel for me.
Long, long ago, I prepared for him to come.’
5:2Verse 2 tells people that the birth of the ruler will be in Bethlehem, a very small town. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.
3 So God will turn away from his people,
until the time that the woman gives birth to this baby in Bethlehem.
Then this ruler's own people who are still alive will return to Israel.
4 And this ruler will stay strong because the LORD will make him strong.
He will supply what his people need.
He will be like a man who supplies everything for his sheep.
He will rule with authority from the LORD his God,
and his people will be safe.
So then, all over the world, people will know that he is great.
5 And he will cause the people to rest,
so that they have no trouble.
Assyria's soldiers will come to attack our country.
They will march through our large, strong buildings.
Then we will choose seven or eight leaders to fight against them.
6 These leaders will use their swords to destroy Assyria.
They will beat the people in the country called Nimrod with swords in their hands.
Assyria's soldiers will come into our country.
They will march across our borders,
but our ruler will save us from them.
5:6Verse 5 ‘Seven or eight leaders’ means ‘as many leaders as we need’. The idea is that Israel will have more than enough leaders to beat their enemy at that time.
5:6Verse 6 Nimrod is another name for Assyria. (Genesis 10:8-11 says that Nimrod was a strong hunter. He lived in the same place as Assyria, but many years earlier.)
God's people will be strong again
7 And later, Jacob's people who are still alive will be in many countries.
They will be everywhere,
like water on the ground in the early morning,
or rain on the grass.
The LORD sends the water to help the plants,
but no human person can make it stay.
8 Jacob's people who are still alive will be living among people in many other countries.
They will become like a dangerous lion among the other animals in the forest.
They will become like a young lion among people's sheep.
The lion attacks other animals.
It knocks them down and it tears them in pieces.
Nobody can save them.
9 You will be strong like that and so you will beat your enemies.
You will kill all of them.
5:9Verses 7-8 These verses tell about the future time when God's people will be strong again. This time is the ‘last days’, as in Chapter 4:1. Jacob's people can bring life to people from other countries as water brings life to plants. But some of those other people may not want to obey God. To them, Jacob's people will bring death, as a lion kills other animals.
5:9A lion is a big wild cat. It kills other animals and it eats them.
God wants people to obey him
10 ‘At that time’, the LORD says, ‘I will take your horses away from you.
I will destroy your war-carts.
11 I will destroy the cities in your country.
I will knock down all your strong buildings.
12 You make bad spirits help you.
But I will destroy the things that you use to talk to them.
You will have nobody to tell you about future times.
13 You bend down to worship tall stones and idols.
But I will destroy all of them.
You will stop worshipping things that you have made with your own hands.
14 You worship the false god Asherah,
but I will pull her poles from the ground.
I will even destroy your cities.
15 Also I will punish all the people in other countries who refuse to obey me.
I will show them that I am very angry with them.’
5:15Verse 14 Asherah was the mother-god of the people called Canaanites. Israel's people took their country from the Canaanites and they lived there. They learned to worship the Canaanites' god, Asherah. They used the poles to worship Asherah. But God had told Israel's people not to worship any other gods.
5:15Verse 13 An idol is a thing that people have made from stone, wood or metal. Then they worship and pray to the idol instead of God.
5:15Verse 14 A pole is a tall stick that someone has made out of wood.