Wednesday Reflection – August 07, 2019
O Bethlehem of Ephrathah!
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2
Today’s Watchword is one of the many prophecies that pointed to the coming Messiah. This prophecy comes at a time when trouble loomed in Israel. Micah summons the people to gather themselves into troops because a siege will be laid against them. Israel will be humbled by foreign powers, and even her judges will bear insults. In this distressing context, Micah offers a word of hope – God would raise up a great Ruler from the humble place of Bethlehem.
Bethlehem was well known as the hometown of David, Israel’s greatest king; yet it was never a great or influential city. It was truly little among the thousands of Israel. Yet, God chose it as the birthplace of the Messiah, the Ruler in Israel. The chief priests and teachers of the law quoted this verse when Herod asked about the birth of the Messiah (Matthew 2:5-6). It is no wonder that Phillips Brooks wrote in 1868:
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the dark street shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread’, and Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Ephrathah was the old name of the place which the Jews retained and loved. It means ‘fruitfulness,’ or ‘abundance.’ Well, well!! Jesus was born not just in the house of bread, but in the house of fruitfulness. This seems almost like a paradox – Bethlehem was an insignificant place, yet its meaning is rich and bountiful. What a word for a people about to face trouble! You will face trouble, but God will bring forth a ruler from the place of food and abundance to deliver you.
Micah is careful to point out that this ruler did not just come about; in fact, his ‘…origin is from of old, from ancient days.’ The Ruler, the Messiah, did not begin in Bethlehem. His going forth is from eternity past. Revelation 22:13 points out that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He was from the very beginning. Indeed, the Messiah did come – promised fulfilled!! Yet another of God’s fulfilled promises to us. We can rest assured that whatever God says he will do, he will most certainly deliver on his word.
The Messiah came not just to rescue the Israelites, but to rescue and save all humanity from the forces of men and the armies of satan. He came, procured our salvation, and guarantee us life everlasting. May we receive God’s gift to us and live with eternity in view. May we also recognize that no matter how insignificant we think we are, God has vested much in us and prepared to do great things in and with us.