“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.” (Micah 5:2-5a)
From the very beginning, God had promised a Messiah, a Savior, who would come and rescue the people from their sin and brokenness. He would bring them back to a relationship with God. The details of the Messiah were not given all at once, but in pieces. Micah and the people of Israel and Judah were facing punishment for years of disobedience. They would soon be taken into exile. Before that happened, God gave His people another glimpse of the coming Messiah, which was a message of hope in the midst of despair.
Bethlehem was not a big or important city; there’s a reason we call it “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” However, it was the hometown of David, another king who was born in humble circumstances. Having Jesus enter the world in the “city of David” (Luke 2:11) emphasized that He was the promised descendant of David, the branch of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1).
Even though God told His people where they could find the Savior, He also told them that they would have to wait. Hundreds of years passed before Jesus was born, and Micah’s prophecy was finally used to determine where the Magi could find the Messiah (Matthew 2:1-6).
God works in ways we may not understand, through unexpected people or places. Although we might have to be patient with His timeframe, we can trust that He is always at work. No matter how long we wait, God always comes through. He offers hope to us because His promises are sure. God never abandons His people. We can say this with full confidence as we look to the manger in the small town of Bethlehem.
“Bethlehem” literally means “house of bread”. On your ornament today, draw a picture of a house to be reminded again how Jesus left His home in Heaven to make His home with us here on earth. Sing or listen to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and thank God that He can use anyone, anything, or anywhere, no matter how small, to accomplish His purpose.