Micah 5:2- “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.” NKJV
Christmas is an exciting time of the year! The time Christians all over the world commemorate the birth of Jesus! This holiday season, I am going to take some familiar Christmas carols, and write a blog around them. Then at the end of each blog, I will post the song to add cheer to your holiday season. I trust that you will enjoy the journey!
Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Yet, Bethlehem was the smallest city of them all. What was so special about Bethlehem?
We first read of Bethlehem in Genesis. As Jacob returned home with his family, Rachel went into labor with Benjamin, and she died. Jacob buried her near Bethlehem and thus it was the first mention of the city. (Genesis 35:19; 48:7)
Naomi and her family were from Bethlehem. When the famine was great in Bethlehem, they traveled to the land of the Moabites, and the men died there. Naomi and Ruth returned to Naomi’s ancestral land, where Ruth met and married Boaz. Boaz was David’s great-grandfather.
Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”1 Samuel 16:1 NKJV
God sent Samuel the prophet to Bethlehem to anoint the king that he had chosen from the house of Jesse. We know that David was that king! Many years later, the prophet Micah gave a prophetic word about the birthplace of the Messiah!
“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
Micah said that the One to come forth out of Bethlehem would be the Ruler in Israel. In the fullness of the dispensation of the times, God sent Gabriel to visit a young woman named Mary. She lived in the city of Nazareth, was legally the wife of Joseph, and was awaiting their wedding celebration! Gabriel had this message for her:
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”Luke 1:30-33 NKJV
God chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly parents. When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, Joseph was skeptical of the whole situation. But God spoke to him and gave him peace about everything. Thinking everything was settling down, they find out that they have to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem:
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.Luke 2: 1-3 NKJV
Mary is now coming to the end of her pregnancy when Caesar Augustus sends out a decree that all the world should be registered. There must have been some kind of urgency to the decree because Joseph had to leave Nazareth and return to Bethlehem with his wife who was heavy with the child.
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 NKJV
Searching on Google, there are a few discrepancies in the distance between Bethlehem and Nazareth. You think it would be pretty straightforward, but the most common of estimates put Bethlehem at approximately 80 miles from Nazareth. Since they had to walk to Bethlehem, if they traveled about 10 miles a day (which is the guesstimate), it would have taken them about 8 days to make this journey.
Typically, Joseph is depicted as leading a donkey, while a very pregnant Mary rides on that donkey. We have no biblical proof of their journey transpiring in this manner. However, typical of the times, it is probably more likely that they walked there.
Also, the chances are really good that they didn’t make this journey alone. Many people had to return to their homeland. The roadways were probably very busy with people coming and going to Bethlehem and many other cities.
While they were in the city of Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus, Savior of the world!
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.Luke 2:6 NKJV
Traditionally, Joseph and Mary get to the city just in time for Jesus to be born. However, Luke tells us that while they were there, not when they arrived, her time to deliver came, and that’s a big difference. So they had already established that they were staying in the barn because Bethlehem was so crowded and there was no room for them anywhere else. Or, they had a place to stay, but when she went into labor, they were near the inn, but they didn’t have any room and were sent to the barn.
Who knows? Only God really knows what happened that night and why it happened. We have pieces of information that we try and fill in the gaps with our rational thinking. We could be right, we could be wrong! But what we do know is that in the town of Bethlehem, as it was prophesied, the Savior was born to a virgin! O Little Town of Bethlehem! Wonderful Jesus!