Summary: Bethlehem....What’s that near?
Where do great leaders come from? When you think of Rockefellers, Kennedys, and Trumps.....Kansas immediately comes to mind doesn’t it. Small towns are not generally known for producing great leaders. Small towns lack opportunities, they are not centers of power or influence, and there is limited support develop strong leaders. Today we are going to continue our series, "He’s Coming" with a look at the prophecy concerning the birthplace of our Savior. We will see that when it comes to the workings of God, He never operates within man’s pre-defined criteria.
Let’s start out this morning by taking a look at our background passage, Micah 5:2-5:
"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the time when the woman in labor gives birth to her son. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored all around the world. And he will be the source of our peace.”
What an unlikely place for the Messiah to come from. Bethlehem would be like many towns in Kansas, not even large enough to be placed on the map. In fact in a listing of cities in the Old Testament, Bethlehem was not even mentioned. As we would say around here, "Bethlehem is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there." But we need to dig a little deeper into this prophecy, because Bethlehem was located in Judah, the Southern kingdom, but the prophecy speaks to a "Ruler of Israel", the Northern kingdom. Literally, Bethlehem is on the wrong side of the tracks. I love God’s promises, because they wreak havoc on man’s intellectual reasoning. This promise may have even seemed impossible to some. But remember, we serve a God of impossibilities.
It’s important to remember the lengthy history associated with this promise. Jesus birth had been foretold even in the Garden of Eden. God had revealed in Genesis 3 that He had an eternal plan. This plan had been foretold throughout the ages. His origins were vital to the fulfillment of prophecy. The Messiah would be a descendant of Eve, from the lineage of King David. Each of these things bearing witness to God’s faithfulness.
We learn something else about the Messiah. He would be more than a leader. Jesus would be the Savior of His people. Exiles would return home. I want you to look at this in terms of your own life. Without Jesus in your life, you are an exile from the love of God. Only through Jesus do you have restored fellowship with your Heavenly Father. His people would be united in Him. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. No matter what our age, sex, background, or place in life...we are one in Jesus. Jesus would be a shepherd to His people. Where as a ruler dictates and governs, Jesus would lead by caring, nurturing, protecting and guiding.
It is important that we understand the source of Jesus’leadership. As we talk about this point of prophecy, I think it is important that you realize this next point applies to our lives as well. Great leaders operate in the strength of the Lord. God’s strength allows much more to be accomplished than is humanly possible. Think about it...are you really able to love your neighbor as yourself without God’s strength? By my own strength, I love my neighbor, until he hacks me off, but with God’s strength, I love him no matter what. God’s strength is unwavering strength, it doesn’t get exhausted or need recharged. Secondly Jesus would rule in the Lord’s majesty – In His name. The name of the Lord would be the source of His authority. The name of the Lord is also our source of authority. Let me give you a quick illustration. Anyone here ever been stopped by one of those cars with the pretty red & blue Christmas lights. Why do you stop for that car, and not my wife’s van if it had pretty red & blue lights. You stop because the police car has been granted authority by the State of Kansas to enforce the law. It is the source of authority that makes the difference. Unfortunately many of us are failing to live a life empowered by this God given authority.
God taught us through the birth of Jesus to expect the unexpected. God’s very nature is to use the unexpected. I find that God surprises me constantly with His nature. When He moves in my life, it’s never in a manner that I had thought of. God’s choices for those He uses rarely meet man’s criteria for greatness.