Insignificant People, from Unimportant Places (Part 1 of 2)

God will often use the most trivial things, to do His greatest work.

December 16, 2020

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

Micah 5:2

Part 1

Today:  The Identity of the King

God has been pointing to the coming Messiah all the way through the Old Testament.  Though the “ungodly line” on the earth could care less, His “godly line” takes great comfort in the accuracy of the prophets of Jehovah and their predictions about the approaching “Anointed One.”  Amazingly the very place of the Messiah’s birth is foretold by the prophet Micah, 700 years before His birth!  Indeed, the Bible is God-breathed.

Let’s take a closer look at Micah’s words.

 

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah.”
This small, relatively unknown town is where King David was born, and it will be the place for the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The name “Bethlehem” means “house of bread.”  Oddly enough, this is where Elimelech and Naomi lived until a famine hit.  Then they left the “house of bread” with their family for Moab, where they ran into great misfortune[1] (Ruth 1).

Early on, the name “Ephratah” meant “the fertile ones or the fruit-fields.”[2]  Later in history, it was changed to Bethlehem.  These names point to the fertility of the region.  When these two names are used together, it clarifies that this is not the “Bethlehem” in Zebulun, but Judah.  The exact town for Jesus’ birth is located.

 

“Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah.”
When Bethlehem is compared to the thousands[3] in Judah, it is small and insignificant.  In fact, in Joshua’s accounting of the Children of Israel, he does not add Bethlehem to the list of Judah’s cities (Joshua 15:21-31).  It was so small that Nehemiah, in his count, did not include it either (Nehemiah 11:25).  There seems to be a contradiction between Micah’s words and Matthew’s words.  When King Herod asked the chief priests and scribes where the Christ will be born, they said,

“And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Matthew 2:6).

“…thou art not the least,” But really he, by an independent testimony of the Spirit, confirms the prophet, Little in worldly importance, thou art not least (that is, far from least, yea, the very greatest) among the thousands, of princes of Judah, in the spiritual significance of being the birthplace of Messiah…[1] (JFB).

“Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (John 7:42).

“God chooses the little things of the world to eclipse in glory its greatest things…” (JFB).

Think of it, Gideon was a “nobody” that God chose to route the Midianites (Judges 6:15), and Jesus clearly lived on the wrong side of the tracks (John 1:46).  He came from poor people and grew up in the wrong place to be great.  But isn’t this how our God works?!

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are:  That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

We ought to be encouraged that God can use us too!  Please join us tomorrow as we look at this Great One who will be born in this insignificant Bethlehem.

 

Quote:  “The birth of Jesus is a birth with a message.  It takes the entire Bible to bring the complete message, but this birth is the core of it:  In Jesus, God is here to give us life, real life”[5] (Eugene Peterson).

 

 

 

[1] The book of Ruth is a great Bible study.  Many practical and spiritual lessons can be learned from Ruth’s experience.
[2] Keil & Delitzsch, Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, the electronic version in eSword.  Micah 5:2.
[3] “Thousands — Each tribe was divided into clans or “thousands” (each thousand containing a thousand families: like our old English division of counties into hundreds), which had their several heads or “princes”; hence in Matthew 2:6 it is quoted “princes,” substantially the same as in Micah, and authoritatively explained in Matthew” (JFB).
[4] Jamison, Fausset, and Brown.  Jamison-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary, the electronic version in eSword. Micah 5:2.
[5] Peterson’s quote is from his book, The Message of Christmas. Downloaded: Sunday, December 13, 2020.  From: https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/48013851-the-message-of-christmas-campaign-edition.