In Micah 5:2-we read, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.”
“When we think of the Christmas story and the story of Jesus coming to earth it is not a rags to riches story but a riches to rags story about how God left the glory of heaven to come to earth and be born in a stable.” So stated Pastor Greg Laurie in a recent podcast. Micah prophesied the stable would be found in the humble town of Bethlehem. Perhaps many of us think of Bethlehem as a town that had no room for anyone — not even a pillow to lay one’s head. On that night there were no neon lights or signs that God was going to be born in the manger. That night was just like any other ordinary night.
However, from the earliest days of Israel, Bethlehem played an important part. We learn that it was the home of Ruth and King David – two members of Christ’s family tree that we shared about earlier this week (Read about that HERE). David was Israel’s greatest King, but Bethlehem was not a great or influential city. Yet, more than 700 years before Jesus’s arrival Micah prophesied that a mighty ruler would come from Bethlehem.
On that first Christmas things were bleak, even hopeless. The Jewish people had not heard from God for 400 hundred years, not one prophet, nor any miracles, as they had grown accustomed. Then all of the sudden, the angel Gabriel comes to the scene. Can you imagine?
When we look at history, we see that it is HIS- story. We see how God needed to get Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. He ordered a census in His own momentous event, forcing Joseph to travel 90 miles from Nazareth with Mary, his betrothed, who was 9 months pregnant and ready to deliver. They had to register for the census. When they arrived, there was not be a hotel or inn available, and the hour was late. We don’t know if Jesus was born in a separate barn, a cave, or what; but it was clear that Jesus, the Son of God, was born in a humble environment in the town of Bethlehem.
God chose that humble town as the birthplace for the Messiah. God is in the details. Even though Micah said that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, that is not where Jesus began. He was in the beginning. Not created. Not born. Simply was in the beginning. Genesis 35:19 is the first mention of Bethlehem in the Bible. Bethlehem Euphrates means house of bread. Later the child born in the stable would call himself the Bread of Life. We look at Bethlehem as a place of provision and God’s supply for the hungry. The Bible also tells us that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13). This means from the very beginning, Jesus was there. There was never a time when Jesus did not exist.
When we look back at God’s provision all through scripture this should challenge us to know Him and to trust God, that He is who He says He is. God made His own appearance to the shepherds. Surely God deserved a high-profile arrival and the most elegant birthplace. However, He came to a humble stable in a relatively obscure town. Even the first people who saw Him were a lowly group. Not at all the religious elite. I love how He came first to the shepherds with His great news. Stay tuned tomorrow as we look more deeply at that unlikely audience.
Sue M. Lindsey, © December 2022