Summary: A humble village, through its association with Christ, became one of the most famous places on Earth. Christ can take our inconspicuous lives and get great glory through them, if we will only yield them to Him!
“BUT YOU, BETHLEHEM…”
1. A 3 year old was helping his mother unpack their nativity set. He announced each piece as he unwrapped it from its tissue paper. “Here’s a donkey!” “Here’s a king!”
2. When he got to an infant molded into a manger, he proclaimed, “Here’s Baby Jesus in his car seat!”
B. WHY BETHLEHEM?
1. Jesus had what no other person ever had – the power of selecting his own parentage and birthplace.
2. If you could choose where you’d be born, what city would you choose? You might pick one because it’s
a. Your home town b. Scenic
c. An industrial headquarters
d. Center of learning/ Arts
3. How many of you would choose Dime Box, Texas? Do you even know where Dime Box is? Or what about Cut & Shoot, Texas?
4. There’s not much virtue in choosing such out-of-the-way spots. There’s not much chance of progress/ advancement.
5. It’s a mystery why God chose little Bethlehem as the Birthplace of Jesus.
C. PROPHETIC STATEMENT
1. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” Micah 5:2, NKJV.
2. This verse prophesies how a little insignificant town would become great.
3. I want us to see how mightily this prophecy was fulfilled and what it says about us.
I. THE OBSCURITY OF BETHLEHEM
A. PROMISING EARLY HISTORY
1. Jacob (Gen. 35:16-18) buried Rachel, his beloved wife, at Ephrath (Bethlehem). She died during childbirth. She named her son Ben-Oni, “Son of my sorrows,” but Jacob renamed him Benjamin, “Son of my right hand.” It’s prophetic how Jesus, the “Man of Sorrows” (Isa. 53:3) born there, was later to become God’s “Son of my right hand!”
2. One Judge of Israel, Ibzan (Judges 12:8), came from Bethlehem. Rehoboam built up the city (2 Chron. 11:6).
3. Rahab, the prostitute who survived Jericho, married a man named Salman and they settled in the vicinity of Bethlehem. They are, of course, of the line of David.
4. Bethlehem in Judah means the “House of Bread” in the “Land of Praise.” But it didn’t live up to its name.
a. Famine forced Naomi (Bk. of Ruth) & Elimelech & sons to move to Moab where all 3 men died.
b. Ruth, the Moabitess, came back with Naomi & married Boaz in Bethlehem. Boaz became her kinsman-Redeemer, exercising his right to pay off her debts and claim her as his bride – similar to Christ & the Church!
5. Ruth’s grandson Jesse fathered/ sired a son named David, who became Israel’s 2nd King.
6. Samuel the prophet came to Bethlehem to anoint David there.
7. From the well of Bethlehem David’s 3 warriors got him a drink of water. The well on the north side still exists today, with 3 divisions!
B. SANK AGAIN INTO OBSCURITY
1. David’s line became a “stump,” by Isaiah’s (11:1) time.
2. Micah’s comment, “Though you are little….” It had remained in obscurity.
C. PROMISE OF RENOWN
1. You will be the birthplace of the Messiah King & God!
2. Over 300 predictions about the coming of the Messiah are found in the O.T. According to Dr. T. A. Pierson, the “chance of their coming true is represented by a fraction whose numerator is one and the denominator is 84, followed by nearly 100 zeros.
II. GOD MAKES BETHLEHEM GREAT
What did God do to make Bethlehem famous? He made it the focal point, the crossroads of the world & universe!
A. GOD MOVED EMPERORS
1. Caesar Augustus (Gaius Octavianus, 63B.C.—16A.D.) ruled Rome from 44B.C. until his death in 16 A.D.
2. He followed his uncle, Julius Ceasar, and became master of the world when he defeated Mark Antony & Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.
3. But without question, his greatest action was one which was probably the least known. Early in his reign he called for a census for taxation purposes.
4. “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child” Luke 2:4-5.
5. It’s joked that if Mary & Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem today, the baby would have been born at some Israeli checkpoint, since there’s a maze of bureaucracy btw Israel & the Palestinian territory now!
6. Micah’s ancient prophecy was fulfilled. God used the world’s most powerful figure to assure Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
7. One night “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace” was born there! God manifest in the flesh! The Savior of the World!