At this point, the real threat to God’s people is coming from Assyria and it is a threat to both the northern and southern kingdoms. The result of this threat will be the scattering of God’s people (5:8). But their scattering will have the effect of a trojan horse in the midst of her enemies. While the enemies believe they have conquered Israel through exile, the captivity only serves to scatter an empowered Israel among their captors. Led by the figure from Bethlehem in chapter 5, their captors will not have a chance and Israel’s foes will be destroyed.
Chapter five, of course, is well known in the New Testament because of Matthew’s reference to it regarding the birth of Jesus.
The scattering of the exiles will come to pass. There will be no deliverance (made plain in 1:9; 2:10,13). But later, with the unexpected birth of one from David’s line, victory will come. It will, however, result in the destruction of all the false religions Israel has held dear.
Israel, reading this, likely expected the deliverance to come in her 6-7th century B.C. lifetime. It would not. Yet, because it was a promise of God, they believed it certainly would come true and by Jesus’ day, the prophecy was seen to herald the coming of the Messiah (which Matthew confirms). Christian people should properly see that they are the heirs of this promise, but they should also see that their scattering among the nations of the world gives them grreat responsibility to tell those nations about the Lord, for a day of judgment is coming upon all mankind who do not obey Him.