Friday, December 6, 2013

One Famous Little Town - December 6, 2013

Micah 5:2(New International Version)
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

Matthew 2:1-6(New International Version)
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

This is probably one of the most famous prophecies about the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. In fact, it was quoted in the Bible as the passage that drew the Persian Magi to seek the Savior, and the reason King Herod murdered all the male infants under two to eliminate his "competition" for the throne of Israel. Once again a prophet of God predicted over 700 years before the event, that Jesus Christ the Messiah would be born in this town of King David's birth, a town which has long held Biblical significance.

"Biblical scholars believe Bethlehem, located in the "hill country" of Judah, may be the same as the Biblical Ephrath, which means "fertile", as there is a reference to it in the Book of Micah as Bethlehem Ephrathah. The Bible also calls it Beth-Lehem Judah, and "a city of David". It is first mentioned in the Tanakh and the Bible as the place where the Abrahamic matriarch Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside" (Genesis 48:7). Rachel's Tomb, the traditional grave site, stands at the entrance to Bethlehem.

According to the Book of Ruth, the valley to the east is where Ruth of Moab gleaned the fields and returned to town with Naomi. Biblical tradition holds that Bethlehem is the birthplace of David, the second king of Israel, and the place where he was anointed king by Samuel. It was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his warriors brought him water when he was hiding in the cave of Adullam."*

Today as has been for almost 2000 years, we celebrate the birth of our Savior in a little backwater place, in a dusty dirty stable. How marvelous of God to select such humble beginnings for the King of the Universe; only He would confound mankind and send His Son into such lowly circumstances. Only He would forsake all splendor and glory to relate to us in most simple terms, so that we would not look at what He was, but could relate to who He was to be.

Photo: Visit to Bethlehem, October 2010
* Wikipedia on "Bethlehem"

The past couple of years I have tak
en you with me on my Advent journey as I travel the path of "the coming", the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus. I hope you enjoy reading these highlights about our Savior as much as I do.

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