Summary: It is Providential that the Old Testament history of Bethlehem foreshadows the birth, person, and work of the Messiah.
1. According to a British Paper (Romsey Advertiser): “Christmas shoppers looking for a bargain should be wary of counterfeit goods which flood the market in the run-up to the festive season, the UK Border Agency has warned.
“Fake Ugg Boots, GHD hair straighteners, iPhones and iPads are among the tens of thousands of counterfeit items that have been seized by officers as they have been brought into the country in recent months.”
2. While some people may unwittingly buy counterfeit gifts, many more people celebrate a counterfeit Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birthday with little thought of Jesus.
3. To better appreciate the real meaning of Christmas, I would like to start by looking at the town of Bethlehem.
4. Geographically, Bethlehem is 5 miles south of Jerusalem on the road to Hebron and Egypt. Average temperatures in summer: 73 degrees, winter 57. It is noted for fertile fields, fig and olive orchards, and vineyards. Now controlled by the Palestinian Authority. It was a small town. It now has a population of about 28,000. The first century population was somewhere between 300 and 1,000.
5. When we read of Jesus being born in Bethelehm, there is much background assumed by such a statement, more than meets the eye.
MAIN IDEA: It is Providential that the Old Testament history of Bethlehem foreshadows the birth, person, and work of the Messiah.
I. Bethlehem and TRAGEDY (Genesis 35:16-19)
A. RACHAEL’S tragedy
B. The the slaying of the INNOCENTS (Matt. 2:13-18)
C. Bethlehem imagery: Messiah REJECTED and killed
• Sometimes innocent people suffer harm because of God’s work; had the wise men never visited Jesus, the little boys may not have died, but the stranglehold Satan has on this world would never be broken had Jesus not come….but it wasn’t the Magi’s fault, it was Herod’s; doing good sometimes results in harm because of evildoers who squelch good…
• Good King Wenceslas (tell story of)
• That’s why we need to be careful trying to understand specific tragedies; God’s plan results in a greater good, but the instances are often hard
Jesus visited the earth the first time as the Lamb of God Who was born to die. He will return the second time as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to reign.
II. Bethlehem and REDEMPTION (Ruth 4:10-11)
A. To redeem means to BUY BACK
One of Jesus’ titles is redeemer:
Bill Keane’s comic strip, Family Circus, has communicated a beautiful truth about Christmas. As the children were setting up their nativity set, little Dolly held up the baby Jesus and declared, “Here’s the star of Bethlehem!” SOURCE: Houston Chronicle, Family Circus, Dec. 23 1988
B. The story of RUTH and Boaz took place in Bethlehem
C. Ruth and Boaz were the ANCESTORS of David and Jesus
• God works generations ahead of time….
• Maybe your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God will be rearing children who make a difference….
• God’s people need to learn to think in terms of generations, not just getting through life…
III. Bethelehm and ROYALTY (I Samuel 16:1, 15)