Prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; fulfilled: Matt. 2:1-6)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, December 8, 2019
We are getting closer to Christmas, does this excite you? Are you ready?
What do you most like and not like about Christmas? People were asked that question in 2013 and this is what they said:
A 2013 Pew Research poll asked people what they like or dislike the most about the Christmas holiday season. Here’s a list of what people most look forward to at Christmas time:
- 68 percent said spending time with family and friends
- 11 percent mentioned religious services or religious reflection
- 11 percent look forward to the Christmas “spirit” of joy and good will
- 5 percent said music, decorations, and shopping
- 4 percent look forward to the end of the Christmas season
Here’s what the poll said we most dislike about the Christmas season:
- 33 percent—the commercialism and materialism
- 22 percent—the money and expense
- 10 percent—the shopping and crowds
- 5 percent—the hectic pace and bad moods of people
- 2 percent—the pressure to go to church
I hope and pray that you really look forward to worshipping our Savior as we celebrate Christmas.
What are your favorite Christmas carols/hymns or songs? Shout them out, anyone.
What about “O Little Town of Bethlehem”? Is that anyone’s favorite? We are going to talk about that city and its importance in our Savior’s birth.
Play video about Bethlehem
It was prophesied some 700 years before Jesus’ birth that He would be born in Bethlehem. Isn’t it amazing how the Scriptures all connect? We have been talking about prophesies of Jesus fulfilled in Him as the Messiah. Today, we talk about His birthplace.
Today, my theme is:
The place of Jesus’ human birth was prophesied some 700 years before He was born. Yet, Jesus’ existence is outside of time.
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
- Jesus’ birth is clearly prophesied in this passage.
- Allow me to give the context of this passage.
- The NIV Study Bible: the author is Micah; the audience is the people of Israel and Judah, especially the oppressive landgrabbers who supported Israel’s corrupt political and religious leaders. The date is between 700 and 650 BC.
- There is a section from Micah 3:1-5:15 which includes judgment and then prophesy of restoration. Chapter 3:1-12 is about denouncing the present leaders. Starting in chapter 4 begins a prophesy about their restoration. Chapter 5:1-15 is about the Shepherd-King arriving.
- As we look at chapter 5 we see more prophesies than just this one, but we will just focus on Bethlehem.
- Bethlehem was a small city. Think about small towns and cities.
Google Street View, the virtual tool that allows users to view eye-level images of a location defined on Google Maps, extends to cover many parts of the world that are accessible by car. However, the Faroe Islands (an autonomous island country within the Kingdom of Denmark) noted over a year ago that their beloved island had not yet been indexed by Google’s tracking, and submitted a unique request. Led by resident Durita Dahl Andreassen, they proposed a Google “Sheep View” in which 360° cameras would be strapped to the backs of roaming sheep who would then provide the world with images spanning the remote beauty of the island nation. Upon receiving the proposal, Google reportedly responded that the idea was “shear brilliance” and supplied the island with the necessary equipment. The project was recently completed, and Google Maps Program Manager reflected on its success saying, “It’s our mission to make the farthest corners of the world accessible through Street View in the palm of your hand. But there’s a lot of world out there, so sometimes we need a little bit of help to hoof the distance. Now, thanks to Durita and her trusty sheep, you can explore the Faroe Islands in Google Maps. It goes to show—if there’s a wool, there’s a way.”
- Bethlehem was small, but Bethlehem was also where King David was from (1 Samuel 17:12).
- Bethlehem was just 5 miles outside of Jerusalem.
- Bethlehem had a prominent history in Israel’s history, though at this point it is really just a village.
- Look at this passage. Micah is now prophesying about hope for Israel’s future. Look, he write, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah… You may ask where is Ephrathah? It is most likely that Ephrathah is a broader area around Bethlehem, maybe like the township or the county. Micah may have used that term to separate this Bethlehem from another town also called Bethlehem.
- Micah says that Bethlehem is too little to be among the clans of Judah. This simply talks of how small this village is. The ESV Study Bible shares:
- The unlikely choice of David as king foreshadows the unlikely choice of Bethlehem as the hometown of the greater David.
- Still, the passage shares that from Bethlehem One will go forth for God to be Ruler in Israel. Now, this is the Messiah. King David came from Bethlehem and now the greater David will come forth from Bethlehem.
- The passage says, His, now this is referring to Jesus, His going forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. This is showing that Jesus exists outside of time.
- At first glance that final phrase might look like it was talking about David, who came from Bethlehem and was from long ago. In fact, the NIV translates this differently. The NIV says: “Whose origins are from of old from ancient time.” Yet, the NIV has a study note that says “His origins were long before His human birth.”
- This is talking about Jesus. This passage is not talking about a mere human King. This is talking about God becoming a man.
- We see the fulfillment in Matthew 2:1-6:
- Let’s read those verses:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
- In these verses we see that the religious leaders of the first century clearly knew this verse was talking about the future Messiah.
- Herod asked the scribes and the chief priests where the Messiah was to be born and they said, “in Bethlehem.” They knew this was about the Messiah.
- Now, look at Luke 2:4-7: Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
- Do you see the connection?
- Another prophesy is fulfilled in Jesus.
- Jesus as a mere human could not control His birthplace. But Jesus is not a mere human. He came fully God and fully man to save us from our sins and to live within us.
- Jesus’ human birth was prophesied some 700 years before His birth, but Jesus exists outside of time as this passage says.
- As I look at this my faith is strengthened knowing that God had a plan long ago.
- Our Ruler, the Messiah, comes out of eternity, as it says in this verse. This is an awesome encouragement as well. Jesus truly is the highest and greatest Being. In John 8:58 Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I am.” He is eternally existent.
- This passage is about Bethlehem’s Ruler. Is Jesus your ruler? Jesus must be our King.
- We must surrender to Jesus for our future.
- We must surrender to Jesus each day.
- We must bow to Jesus (Phil. 2:9-11).
- We must submit to Jesus and His Word (Rev. 1:2, 9; 6:9).
- Since God can connect these prophesies with Jesus’ birth and life this is another connection to His sovereignty and another proof of the truth of the Gospel.
I referenced the hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem.
Phillips Brooks, 1835–1893
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. (Luke 2:4)
In the same way that God’s “wondrous gift” came to Bethlehem, silently, so Christ comes into our lives today and casts out our sins and fears if we are willing to have Him abide in our lives. Then “the dear Christ enters in.” How beautifully the glorious message of Christmas is told in this well-phrased hymn by Phillips Brooks, one of America’s most outstanding ministers of the past century.
During a trip to the Holy Land in 1865, Brooks went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and worshiped there. He was deeply moved by this experience. Three years later, while pastoring the Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia, Brooks desired to have a special carol for the children to sing in their Sunday school Christmas program. Recalling the peaceful scene in the little town of Bethlehem, Brooks completed the writing of the text in just one evening. He gave a copy of the words to his organist, Lewis R. Redner, and requested him to compose a melody that would be easy for the children to sing. On the evening just before the program was to be given, Redner awakened suddenly from his sleep with the present melody in his mind—and he quickly wrote it out. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” has been a favorite with children and adults around the world since that time.
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by; yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light—the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary—and gathered all above, while mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wond’ring love. O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth, and praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth.
How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is giv’n! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n. No ear may hear His coming, but, in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in—be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!
In the midst of all the rush and activity of the Christmas season, take time to rejoice in the joy of Christ’s birth and ask Him to abide with you in a special way.
Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.
 Note: For the purpose of this illustration, some of the categories in the original survey have been renamed and combined into one category.
Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project, “Celebrating Christmas, Then and Now,” (12-18-13)
 Ethan Adams, PreachingToday.com; source: “Thanks to Sheep View, the Faroe Islands now has Google Street View” The Faroe Island Blog (11-24-17)
 Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 370.