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.
Bethlehem. ...Bethlehem? If God's going to do something so grand as to send His Son into the world as the Savior of all, why Bethlehem? Similarly we might expect (demand?) God to 'prove Himself' to us in some grand fashion. But let's be honest: Just because God may not prove Himself the way WE want Him to does not mean that He hasn't indeed proven Himself.
So yes... Bethlehem! You see, it has always been God's way to chose rather inglorious people, places, and things for His glorious purposes. So not just Bethlehem, but Bethlehem Ephrathah. There was (and still is) another Bethlehem in Israel. Even that Bethlehem of Galilee would have been a 'better' birthplace for God in the flesh since it was more prominent, but God chose Bethlehem Ephrathah. This Bethlehem was hardly a can't-miss place, so God gave a can't-miss prophecy through Micah some 700 years before the birth of the Savior. He wanted all who longed for the Savior to be waiting, watching, expectant.
He wanted them to know not just the where but the who. One "whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." There's something lost in translation. The way it reads more literally in the Hebrew is that His origins would be "from eternity." Yes, God Himself would step into this world, into Bethlehem Ephrathah of all places. And if God Himself steps into the world, it must be to do something that only God Himself can do. Something like offering up His life as the once and for all payment for the sins of the world. Yes, something like that!
So back to this notion we sometimes get of God needing to prove Himself to us. Where in the world is God when we need Him? Where is the proof that He cares at all about me? Where is the proof that He doesn't just sit idly by and let this world (and my life) spin out of control? Take a look at the Life born in Bethlehem Ephrathah some 2000 years ago. See how He lived for you. See how He died for you. See how He rose from the dead. See that there is the fullness of forgiveness in His name. ...What more could He do to prove Himself to you?
See how the blessings of Christmas extend throughout the year to fill your everyday life!
Follow "The ABC's of Christmas" series:
INTRO, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X
Questions or Comments? CLICK HERE TO CONTACT DANIEL.
Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Daniel is the Staff Minister at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, El Paso TX.