Read His Words Before Ours!
Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah;….
Truthfully, we barely make the map.
A few hundred people, maybe 300 during high feast times when we have an influx of people. And children? We can only boast less than 10 under the age of 12 months. We may be small, but at least we don’t have a poor reputation like…pfft, Nazareth. Nothing good comes from Nazareth. And I do mean nothing. Impoverished and despised, to come from Nazareth is like walking around with a sign reading “lowest of the low worthless nobody”. Yes, we are small, but we have reason to hold our head high with dignity, for we are the keepers of an ancient prophecy.
….one will come from you….
For 700 years we have protected this prophecy. For 700 years we have waited. For 700 years we have made it known to everyone that we, Bethlehem, would one day be the city of origin for the One. By the power of the Spirit of God, Micah the prophet, spoke these incredible words for all to hear and take to heart. One prophecy tucked into a scroll, foretelling of the One who would indeed come. Seeing as how it’s been seven-hundred years, there have been many who scoff that Micah’s prophecy cannot possibly be true. It’s been too long, they say. Critics, and even some faithful Jews, are wondering…. Will the One actually come? I can’t say I blame them. It’s been 400 years since the last prophetic words were even spoken to Judah. 400 years of silence from Almighty God. Even the most faithful student of the Torah would have reason to doubt the truth, right? But we, Bethlehem, hold fast to our special prophecy… one will come from you.
….to be ruler over Israel for me….
Not just any One. No, this coming One, this Promised One, He about whom rabbis utter in holy hushed whispers, “Messiah”, will be ruler over Israel. Hope spills in with this One. In Micah’s day, Samaria and Jerusalem (the capital cities of Israel and Judah respectively) enjoyed wealth and prosperity, but today, 700 years later, we are ruled by the iron fist of Rome. We are not the nation we once were. Assyrian conquest and Babylonian exile scattered our people, the Jews. Micah warned the Jews of coming destruction, as did his contemporaries, Isaiah and Hosea, but Israel turned a deaf ear. Surely not, they boasted, as they chased their sinful lusts for more. More wealth, more power, more wine, and more women. More of everything except Yahweh, the Lord of Lords.
For this trade of Sin for the Savior, history records their rightfully earned destruction, which brings us to here in Bethlehem. On any given day, shepherds can be spotted across the surrounding hills and plains. Small, dirt pathways are well-worn from calloused, bare feet trodding the same span of miles between shoddy home and meager field. We are poor. We are small. We have little, if anything, to offer, but we do have hope. Hope of the Messiah. Hope that Yahweh’s appointed Ruler will come and overthrow our enemies. Surely, Judah will be great and powerful again!
His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.
With eyes full of wonder, from studied priests to young Jewish boys, all who read Micah’s words are hushed to silence with the awesomeness of this description. This One is not ordinary, nor even merely a man full of wisdom beyond his years. No, this One is the One, The Only One. He is God. Only God has existed from antiquity. Only God Almighty is known as the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9). Yahweh alone exists from “everlasting to everlasting”. (Psalm 90:2) Dare we even put words to the thought racing wildly in our minds? God with us? Can it be? Might He dwell again with us as His presence rested in the Tabernacle in the days of Moses and David? Hope ignites in our hearts as we guard this precious prophecy seven-hundred years in the waiting. We wait for the unthinkable. Truly, the impossible. We are scattered. We are a broken nation. We are oppressed. Our sin weighs upon us. How could Yahweh come to us?!
Then, lo, a young girl’s scream of agony, blood splattering hay, animals defecting, a Jewish man turned midwife, a cold cave…our cave, Bethlehem’s cave.
A baby’s tiny fingers shaking in the cool air as his lusty cry is heard for the first time, echoing against the harsh walls and mixed amid the chords of animal noises.
The Promise has come.
Here, in our brokenness, our chaos, our long-awaitedness, in our doubt, in our grasping onto hope….Here.
He is here!
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Thanks for joining us today as we journeyed into Here Week Three! Don’t miss out on the discussion below – we’d love to hear your thoughts!