Micah 5:2 – But thou, Bethlehem 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. (KJV)
As I write, I'm thinking of a friend who is travelling to many parts of the Holy Land, places some of us only read about in the Bible. I thought, How exciting it would be to visit the town of Christ's birth so close to the Christmas season! But since I am unable to be there in person, I took a cyber-tour, mainly around the old city of Bethlehem.
What I discovered is that many of the town's festivities are similar to those anywhere else. I was more fascinated by the charming Bethlehemite neighbourhoods and the narrow, cobbled streets. Many homes are beautifully decorated with stone designs, and some are marked by a cross painted over the door. This custom may have originated when Messianic Jews noticed the similarity between the sign of the cross and the Passover tradition of painting their door frames with lamb's blood, since so many other things associated with Passover foreshadow the Lord's plan of redemption.
Afterward, I listened to one of the residents being interviewed. She described Bethlehem as a small community that has an international feeling. This sentiment echoes the words of the prophet Micah who predicted that an everlasting ruler would come forth from that town. I am not surprised that God chose this insignificant place for His Son to be born. Consider the teaching of the apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 1:26-28 – Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are. (NIV 2011)
Clearly, God's values stand in stark contrast to those of the world. The ideas of a Shepherd-King being born in a Bethlehem stable, or the blood of a lamb being painted on doorposts, or a Saviour dying on a cross sound foolish to unbelievers. Yet, they are of the utmost importance to God because they mean our salvation. Through Christ, we, too, are made worthy in the eyes of the Lord.
1 Peter 1:18-19 – For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (NIV 2011)
Thus, during this holy season, let us rejoice in the high calling that we have received to follow humbly the example of our everlasting King. Though we may be little among thousands in the world, we'll never be disregarded by God.
Prayer: Dear Lord, our King, we come before Your throne of grace with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts. We rejoice that Your holy birth brought glory upon the little town of Bethlehem, the beginning of hope and peace to a lost world. Teach us to humble ourselves under Your mighty hand, so that it is no longer we who live but Christ Who lives in us. In Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Angels From The Realms Of Glory" (Lyrics)