Monday, December 8, 2014

O Little Town of Bethlehem

(Micah 5:2 NIV) “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 2:1-5 NIV) “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 in the east 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 Christ 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 be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

“O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.”    

“Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.”

Most of us have been singing Christmas carols about the little town of Bethlehem since we were children, but did you know that the town for Christ’s birth was chosen hundreds of years before He was born.

The Magi followed a star to Israel and stopped at King Herod’s palace with gifts. They thought surely a royal child of the King would be born there. But there had been no births in Herod’s family, so he called in his chief priests and bible teachers to inquire where the long foretold Christ was to be born. They looked to Micah 5:2 and told Herod that when the Messiah came, He would be born in a little town called Bethlehem.

Bethlehem had already produced one great king in the giant slayer named David. But he was just the warm up act for an even greater King. This coming King’s origins were “of old, from ancient times”. This King would rule the world.

The Magi knew exactly where to look, because the scriptures drew them a road map. And then, as they headed for Bethlehem, the Christmas star pinpointed the exact location of the Christ child in a way that would rival any GPS system available today.

Who is this God who boldly announces the birthplace of His Son hundreds of years before it happens? Who is this God who would choose a small backwater town and an obscure stable for the birth of the King of kings?   

He is the Lord – a Lord who is both Ruler and Shepherd. He commands His people with holy authority, but gently leads those He has called to follow Him. He is the God who walked with His people in the beginning. He is the God who was born in Bethlehem to walk with His people again. And He is the God who still desires to walk with people today.

He is a God who transforms insignificant little towns into places of great significance. He is a God who makes small and insignificant people into great servants and saints of God. He is a God who transforms lowly stables that smell of manure, into holy places where Christ dwells. And today, He lives to do the same in our lives.

He is a God that kings and priests knew about but refused to serve. He is the King who chose the little town of Bethlehem, and a humble stable for His birthplace. His name is Jesus Christ.

We would do well this Christmas season to emulate the Magi who came to worship him and to lay their treasures at his feet. Come to Bethlehem and see.       

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