King Herod has heard the news from the streets of his city that a king of the Jews has been born and that it was first announced in the sky by a new star that had guided the Magi. The city was full of the news but the people were also disturbed by it because they knew how unpredictable Herod was. What would he do faced with a threat of a new king? Is this announcement the start of an uprising? The first thing he does is to call the true leaders of the Jewish people, the chief priests and teachers of the law. These were the leaders who interpreted the Old Testament law for the people to be able to live their lives religiously. They were ready for the question.
They knew a Messiah was to come. They knew where he would be born. They knew that God had given these details through their prophet Micah approximately 700 years previously. They knew the prophecy was given at a time of an invasion similar to that of the Roman oppression they were experiencing under King Herod but for Micah it was witnessing the invasion into Judah by the King of Assyria.
“When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Matthew 2 v 4-6)
Even though they knew all these things, Matthew’s gospel will reveal that from the outset of the birth of Jesus they would not be moved towards him. Gentile, Arabian astronomers were more devout than they were. Their alignment with Herod was more important to them than alignment with the Scriptures which they could recite word for word. We need to watch our alignments as they can pull us away from what we hold as important.
The prophecy has been recited in every nativity across the globe. The beauty of the words are important today for those whose circumstances may be difficult and perhaps your abilities seem inadequate. It is always who is inside you that is of importance (… out of you will come …) for greater is He that is in you than is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
Micah’s prophecy is this: ““But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”(Micah 5:2)
Bethlehem whose name we have to use the region of Ephrathah for because there are other Bethlehem’s, in order to determine which one we mean. You are not unique. There are others like you. Well, not exactly like you, because you are small, weaker and insignificant actually. At the time of the birth of Jesus there was a Bethlehem in the north as well as this one in the south, in the land of Judah. The priests make sure they are referring to the right one. Micah prophecies future but it is a reminder that only 300 years previously King David was born in your small town and a new King in his line will come again.
I love this. Let me encourage you today. Especially to those who are struggling in some way.
See what God has done in previous years through you. (Bethlehem, King David was born in your town! He was your ruler, strong, majestic, secure and great.) You may need to go back to a previous generation or it may be within your own personal history, but God is there to be found.
It can happen again. God can come again. (Out of you will come for me one … And not just one but The One. The One who is everlasting, who is from of old, from ancient times, the One who is peace.) God hasn’t finished with you yet.
Live in the light of that fact.
When the chief priests and teachers of the law quoted Micah they were answering a specific question by Herod of where the Messiah would be born. They lift the answer out of the whole prophecy which they perfectly knew. “… And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land … He will deliver us from …” (v5-6) If only they had seen the connection with their present generation, but they blind.
For those struggling with whatever situation:
You can do life in difficult circumstances “The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man.” (v7)
You will get through this “Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed” v9.
God will do what you cannot do yourself “In that day … I will destroy and demolish and tear down all your strongholds …I will destroy … I will uproot …I will take vengeance” (v10-15)
So watch who or what you are aligned to and get ready for God can move in your insignificance in the least expected way.