From one point of view the scattering of the people of God throughout the nations from the exile in Babylon onwards could be looked upon as a disaster because they were deported from their homeland because of their sins. Yet to take only that outlook would be a lack of faith in the ability of God to use his people wherever they found themselves.
The Lord was determined to maintain a remnant who would continue to trust in him. After all, many genuine worshippers of God, such as Daniel and his friends, found themselves in exile even although they themselves were not guilty personally of the nation’s sins. So while the majority of the Israelites who remained away from their homeland may have given up serving the Lord, he would ensure that a remnant would remain faithful to him.
Micah gives two illustrations of the effect the remnant would have. First, he says that they would provide refreshment wherever they were. Despite their smallness they would influence the future of nations because they possessed something that the nations did not have – spiritual vitality from the Lord. He would use them to bring life from heaven to others (v. 7).
Second, he says that despite their smallness they would have great power, like that of a lion. He reminds his hearers that a lion is not afraid of other animals, whether wild beasts of the forest or domestic animals such as sheep. Similarly, the remnant would not need to be afraid of any opposition (vv. 8-9).
When would the remnant have this vitality and power? In the prophecy, their service comes after the arrival of the Messiah. So this would take place after Jesus came. Here is a prophecy of what the church should be like as it finds itself in the midst of the nations.
At that time, the Lord would act and remove everything in which they wrongly had placed their trust – the military (v. 10), the fortifications (v. 11), witchcraft (v. 12) and idols (vv. 13-14). And at some stage during that time, he will judge the nations that reject the witness of his people (v. 15). Those two details should challenge us: (1) do we trust in the Lord alone to defend us and (2) do we remember that judgment is coming?