4. The Lion and His Cubs

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 18 2024

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  • Series: Aspects of Systematic Theology
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Our Scripture is from the book of the prophet Micah, the fifth chapter, verses two following. Our subject; ‘the lion and His cubs.’

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.

Therefore will he give them up,

Until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth:

Then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.

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 principal men.

And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword,

And the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof:

Thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian,

When he cometh into our land,

And when he treadeth within our borders.

And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people

As a dew from the LORD,

As the showers upon the grass,

That tarrieth not for man,

Nor waiteth for the sons of men.

And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people

As a lion among the beasts of the forest,

As a young lion among the flocks of sheep:

Who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces,

And none can deliver.

Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries,

And all thine enemies shall be cut off.

And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD,

That I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee,

And I will destroy thy chariots:

And I will cut off the cities of thy land,

And throw down all thy strong holds:

And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand;

And thou shalt have no more soothsayers:

Thy graven images also will I cut off,

And thy standing images out of the midst of thee;

And thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.

And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee:

So will I destroy thy cities.

And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen,

Such as they have not heard. 1

This chapter is an important one in the Messianic prophecies of Scripture. Unhappily, it has not been well treated in our day. Modernists are emphatic in denying that there is any messianic character or content to this chapter; thus Harold Bosley in The Interpreter's Bible calls this the most abused chapter of all Scripture, because he says that it has been twisted into a Messianic interpretation. 2 Now, the fact that Matthew quotes this as having been fulfilled in part in the birth of our Lord means nothing to Bosley of course, he says that Matthew was in error also.

On the other hand, there are too many people today who limit the meaning of this text to the prediction that our Lord was to be born in Bethlehem. Very clearly Bethlehem is singled out as the birthplace, but if we limit the meaning of this passage to a prediction of the birthplace, we have done it great injustice. Our concern in our present series of studies is with the doctrine of Christ, this text has much to say concerning it.

Now let us look at this text rather generally, because there is more here than we can cover in a singles session. First of all, Micah looks to little Bethlehem as the future source of royal power. Now, this very definitely meant more than the normal run of Davidic kings. Bethlehem was a very small village, as Micah points out; one of the smallest. It was close to the capital, not too many miles away, but its size made it insignificant. It had only one distinction, that Davidm, centuries before, had been born there. And of course the royal dynasty was Davidic. But this gave Bethlehem no significance at the time Micah was prophesying.

Let me illustrate. To us, Washington rightly is a very great and important figure; but who of us remembers where Washington was born? Thus, even in Micah’s day, the house of David was important, but Bethlehem very remote, forgotten.

Now, Micah says in due time another king would be born in Bethlehem, one destined, he says, to be ruler in Israel. A very literal birth was predicted, but not in the royal palace in Jerusalem, but in Bethlehem. Consider in the import of that. Do you think anyone in the royal family was pleased with Micah and with his prophecy? Not at all. What this meant was that some remote by-line would produce the ruler, if Micah were telling the truth.

Now very few of us know who our third and fourth cousins are. The royal house, the Davidic line, had relatives that were quite remote; some of them were still sheep men out there in Bethlehem no doubt. And to predict that from some other line of the house of David there might be, any day, who knows? Some time in the future, some time very soon, another ruler born? That did not sit well with the palace in Jerusalem.

Thus, this prediction is a very significant one. It meant that Jerusalem, the royal city, was to be bypassed, that the line of kings were to be bypassed, that God was going to use all the same the house of David to fulfill His prophecies, but it would be an insignificant byline, a humble one, that would produce this great ruler.

Then, second, Micah declares very plainly that this would be the Messiah. He would be one, he says:

“Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting [or ‘from the days of eternity’ - RJR].” 3

Thus, you have two things predicated concerning this great king: He is to be born of the house of David. Thus He was to be born of men. But, He was also from of old, from everlasting. So that He is someone who is from all eternity, and yet at one and the same time is born under very humble circumstances, in the birthplace of David.

It does take blindness, does it not, for men like Bosley to say that there is messianic reference here?! Indeed, this statement: “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” is echoed in part in the Nicene Creed, when it declares:

“We believe… in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father…”

But then third, Micah declares, this great king's realm would be world wide, and He shall provide for His people. He declares in the fourth verse:

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. 4

His reign will give security, because He brings to it the strength of the Lord His God, and He will provide for His people, and they will get cradle-to-grave security, not from the state, but from their Messiah.

Clearly, a supernatural king is set forth. Supernatural in His birth, in His rule, and in His providence. Moreover, Micah said earlier in the fourth chapter verses one to four, what the nature of his kingdom would be:

But in the last days it shall come to pass,

That the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains,

And it shall be exalted above the hills;

And people shall flow unto it.

And many nations shall come, and say,

Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

And to the house of the God of Jacob;

And he will teach us of his ways,

And we will walk in his paths:

For the law shall go forth of Zion,

And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

And he shall judge among many people,

And rebuke strong nations afar off;

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

And their spears into pruninghooks:

Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation,

Neither shall they learn war any more. 5

Thus we have the prophecy of a worldwide peace, a world wide rule of dominion from pole to pole under the Messiah.

Then fourth, Micah says of the Messiah: “And this man shall be the peace” that is, He himself is the peace; His rule worldwide, His peace total. But until then he says, the Assyrians and like powers will be in the land, but God will raise up shepherds and princes to accomplish His purpose towards the shaking of the things that are, so that only those things which are unshakable might remain. And our Lord Himself in John 14:27 defines His peace:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 6

The Messiah's inner peace must precede the world's outer peace. Salvation precedes pacification.

Then fifth, before this world peace comes, there must be not only salvation, but very extensive judgment, according to Micah 5:7-15. The enemies of God will be destroyed, the weapons of aggressive warfare; the horse and the chariot, will be destroyed. Occultism, idolatry, and unbelief will be dealt with in vengeance and fury; there will be a shattering of all the enemies of God.

But sixth, important to understand the meaning of that, is verse seven:

And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people

As a dew from the LORD,

As the showers upon the grass,

That tarrieth not for man,

Nor waiteth for the sons of men. 7

The Redeemed of the Lord, the people of Christ, will be the means of blessing and of benediction for the whole world. This is a key text in the entire passage. Here we have no pietism, no quietism, no retreat from the world set forth, but godly dominion. Very obviously if you want to term it such, this is a postmillennial text. What the prophet is saying is that the means that Jesus Christ is going to use to bring His rule, His dominion, His blessing as well as His judgment upon all the earth is His people.

Then in verses eight and nine this is spelled out very specifically with regard to the judgment, verse seven speaks of the blessing; but verse eight and nine say:

And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people

As a lion among the beasts of the forest,

As a young lion among the flocks of sheep:

Who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces,

And none can deliver.

Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries,

And all thine enemies shall be cut off. 8

The redeemed of the Lord, Micah says, are to be like a lion in a sheepfold. Well, that is a very unequal situation, is it not? A lion in a sheepfold? Who can oppose Him, who can stand before him? He works His will. And as a lion in the forest, what animal in any jungle ever attacks a lion? And this is what Christ, what God the Lord in His Word calls us to be, and says that the redeemed of the Lord when they stand in the power of the Lord and by His Spirit in terms of the whole Word of God, will in due time be such to the world, and they are to go out in this confidence.

There was a time when men went out in that confidence, when a man like Judson, when the enemy had destroyed all his work, his chapel, his printing presses, and thrown him in a dungeon to die, and laughed at him saying: “Now what are the promises, what are your hopes in your God? What is your future? What is your future Judson?” and he said: “As bright as the promises of God.” and he was right, as have been countless others who in the boldness of God’s Word have known that indeed that in this world there is much tribulation, but we shall through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. We shall, because we are called in Christ to be more than conquerors. Thus this text is basic to the Messianic faith, to the world rule of our Lord.

Revelation 5:5 describes our Lord as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” and what this text calls upon us to be is a lion-like people, exercising the sovereignty of the lion of the tribe of Judah, to be the Lions’ cubs.

Now in Matthew 17:4 in the account of the transfiguration of our Lord, we see that Peter after that experience says to the Lord: “Lord it is good for us to be here. Let’s build a sanctuary, a retreat, memorializing this tremendous vision, this theophany. Let’s stay here.” But had they stayed at that point in the faith, there would have been no atonement, no resurrection, no salvation, no world victory, no second advent.

Now, if we approach Micah 5:2 following with the same shortsightedness and say: “How marvelous, this is a prophecy of our Lord’s birth and it proves the Bible is true.” Fine, but we have denied the Lord. Because the text goes on to declare who He is and what is to be done. It sets forth the doctrine of Christ which summons us to be kings, priests and prophets in Him. We are not called to be members of His divine nature; salvation is not deification. But we are called, and by His sovereign grace made members of His new humanity, and as such are adopted into the family of the throne, we are members of the royal house, children by the adoption of grace. We are the lion’s cubs. We have a family calling that requires that we exercise dominion in His name. The lion of the tribe of Judah has a witness in this world and power to bring every area of life and thought in every part of the world into captivity to Him; this is the calling of the Lion’s cubs.

Let us pray.

* * *

Almighty God our heavenly Father who by thy sovereign grace and mercy has made us members of the royal house, children of the throne; we thank thee that thou hast given us so great a privilege, so great a calling, and so great a power through thy Holy Spirit, that we are not called merely ‘conquerors’ but ‘more than conquerors.’ Send us forth O Lord in thy power, that we may bring everything into captivity to Jesus Christ our Lord. In His name we pray. Amen.

* * *

Are there any questions now, first of all on our lesson?


[Audience Member] What is this text saying about the Assyrian invasion?

[Rushdoony] Yes, in other words, what the text says in verse six is this, that indeed they will suffer such things as the Assyrian invasion, but that does not happen in contempt of God’s purpose, but in terms of God’s purpose, as a judgment on an ungodly land. And He will raise up the men in that situation to further His purpose and His kingdom. So that the very defeat of Judea or of the kingdom of Judah will be a step in the furthering of God’s purpose in Christ.

[Audience Member] The Assyrians, they overcame the kingdom of Israel, right?

[Rushdoony] Yes, they also entered into Judea, they didn’t overcome Judea and destroy it, but they also invaded Judea.

In due time, in other words, the Assyrians and all will be destroyed by the Lord. God’s sovereign purposes prevail, that is the meaning. When the Assyrian moves against them, when they move against the Assyrian, there is a laying wastein terms of furthering God’s purposes.

[Audience Member] Does the seven shepherds in this passage have any special significance?

[Rushdoony] Seven is the number of fullness, so what he is saying is: “God will raise up all the people He needs.” And not only all, but more. Whatever their number be, as Elijah was told: “I have seven thousand that have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In other words: “I have all I need Elijah, to accomplish my purpose. So that while you feel the covenant is virtually finished because: ‘I even I alone am left, and I am a single man and childless, what is going to happen to your covenant?’ No Elijah, I have my men. Seven thousand, seven shepherds, eight principle men.’” In other words, seven the number of fullness, eight, more than enough. So whatever happens, whether the Assyrians invade or not, the destruction that the Assyrians work and the destruction of Assyria, the destruction wrought by Babylon and the destruction of Babylon, “all these I use to further my purpose.”

This is why Romans 8:28 declares that we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Nothing fails God’s holy purpose. Yes?

[Audience Member] In light of the current crisis of the world, how do you see a path of dominion and apply it to our present situation here, when Christian community seems to stand in such disrepair and the forces of evil seem to be spreading?

[Rushdoony] Yes, how do I apply it to our present world crisis. Nothing would be more dead for the future of this country and the world than for us to be able to continue indefinitely without economic, national and international policies. It would mean there was no judgment. It would mean that we were living in a world without cause and effect, that a person could sin and go on forever, and remember the whole point of the expulsion from Eden was they lived not forever, they had to die, and they had to be driven out. It was not only the removal of the tree of life but their casting out, so that they could not live in ideal conditions, and after the flood the longevity was removed; so that the lifespan was shorter, and it meant that men were face-to-face with the fact of the consequences of sin; death.

So that today God in His grace is sending us some very severe testings. Now the question mark is will we listen to those. If we do and wake up it will be instrumental to our salvation, if not then God will clean house on us and raise up another, but His purposes won’t be set back for a millionth of a second. Yes?

[Audience Member] Why does Matthew not quote Micah verbatim?

[Rushdoony] Yes. First of all, there is a great likelihood that he was using the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and therefore the wording was different; not the meaning, but the wording was somewhat different. Then second, very often, what the New Testament does when it quotes the Old Testament is to cite a verse but not give it literally, in order to point out a particular aspect of that verse. So that not all the quotations in the New Testament are intended to be literal, they are not always out of the Hebrew, they are often from the Septuagint, the Greek of the Septuagint. So that accounts for the differences in the wording, and that is why the names too are different, because of course in the New Testament itself we have the Greek text, so that names like Isaiah are rendered differently in the text of the New Testament and the Old.


[Audience Member] What is the particular meaning of ‘know’ in the text “I am the good shepherd and I know my sheep?”

[Rushdoony] Oh yes, yes, the word ‘know’ when our Lord says I am the good shepherd and I know my sheep, is very important. First of all, the term ‘shepherd’ in antiquity commonly meant

‘God.’ Thus when we find Assyrian and Babylonian kings speaking of themselves as the shepherd, they are saying: “I am the God King.” The term ‘shepherd,’ therefore, is a very significant one. So our Lord identifies Himself as God when He says that, ‘I am the good shepherd, the true God, and I know my sheep.’ And he says: “As God I not only know, but I determine all things.” It has the same general meaning as in the temptation by Satan in Genesis 3:5 when he says: “ye shall be as God, every man his own God, knowing, that is deciding or determining for yourself what constitutes good and evil.”

So when our Lord says: “I know my sheep” He says: “I determine who my sheep are.” He goes on to say: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” So that when He knows them He determines them, He chooses them as well as having a total knowledge of them.


[Audience Member] Do you feel that a Christian would be justified in not registering for this new proposed draft if it is put into effect, seeing as how it is not for national defense at all?

[Rushdoony] The March Chalcedon position paper will deal entirely with that issue. My feelings there will be very clearly spelled out. First of all, the Bible does not permit offensive warfare, the Constitution 1.8., says that: “There shall be no militia called” and the word ‘militia’ is the old-fashioned word for a drafted force, “except to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, and enforce the laws of the Union.” Three reasons, only. None but volunteers could be used according to the Constitution, in any war outside the territorial boundaries of the United States.

Now in 1917, Wilson threw that out, and the Courts refused to hear the arguments in terms of it until well after the war, so they completely disregarded that provision, then, and in World War II. It was resurrected in the Vietnam war, and no final settlement was ever made; but it is still there in the Constitution. Then, very definitely, the Bible not only does not permit anything but defensive wars, but it also, and I will go into all the texts in that position paper, forbids women and men fighting in a common type of operation, warfare including women. Deuteronomy 22:5 is very commonly limited and misunderstood in its meaning, because it reads:

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” 9

Now the reference in the Hebrew is far broader than garment, it means that they shall not put on that which pertains to a man, the calling or function, and it definitely means military operations. Now, this is not just a recent interpretation, this is a very old one, very common among the older commentators of the last century, the sixteenth century, again and again. In terms of the Hebrew this point has been made through the centuries. It is too bad that people have limited the meaning in our time, but that very definitely forbids it, so I would say that it would be an anti-Christian act for the government to call for the registration of men and women both. I think it is a good time to let both Congressmen and Senators know our opposition to it before it is a matter of law, and before even legislation is proposed.

Yes, you had a question first?

[Audience Member] How are we to reconcile national defense with turning the other cheek?

[Rushdoony] Yes, there are certain Scriptures which seem to be contradictory, because some call definitely for a military draft, (twenty years old and older is the biblical law, I will have all that in the position paper) and then texts that deal with turning the other cheek. Now, the difference is that one deals with matters of personal relationships, that in dealing with people we are to lean over backwards to manifest the grace of God. But where national affairs are concerned there can be a point where it necessary to defend and to fight for what we have. So in such a case the draft is very definitely required, but there is nothing in the Scripture that would indicate pacifism for a nation.

Yes? And our time is up, so this will be the last question.

[Audience Member] This question is with regard to the 1980 census. On the census I think for the first time there are penalties for refusal to answer, penalties for incorrect answers, and they ask many personal questions such as your marital status and your finances and things like that, what should our attitude be towards that? Should we comply, resist, or lie, or what?

[Rushdoony] Well, first of all since I haven’t seen any of the census forms I really couldn’t answer that question, and second if it asks about my marital status I am very happy to report about, that is not classified information as far as I am concerned. I really don’t know how to answer that question. I know that there are people across the country who are concerned about what they believe is the invasion of privacy in the new census. I think, what is it? One out every seven, or one out of every ten or twenty will receive a very long form? Not having seen such a form I simply don’t know a thing about it.

Well, let us bow our heads now for the benediction.

* * *

And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, amen.

1 Mic 5:2–15.

2 “5:1-15. Scripture Betrayed by Its Friends.No other chapter in Scripture has been more abused by its friends than this. It is one of the scriptural sources of the messianic hope that was to loom so large in postexilic Judaism. The tradition that Jesus came in fulfillment of this and other prophecies was so early and so deep a part of the Christian apologetic that it wrote itself into the Gospels, notably into Matthew, Luke, and John. It is hard to believe that anyone who had actually read this chapter carefully could think that it had any reference at all to the coming of Jesus Christ.” Harold A. Bosley. “The Book of Micah: Exposition.” In The Interpreters Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, edited by George Arthur Buttrick, Vol. 6. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1956, 930.

3 Mic 5:2.

4 Mic 5:4.

5 Mic 4:1–3.

6 Jn 14:27.

7 Mic 5:7.

8 Mic 5:8–9.

9 Dt 22:5.

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