Last week we looked at the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus Christ and how it had been accurately prophesied approximately 700 years before his birth. This week, let’s have a look at the location where the Bible says that the Messiah would be born. In Micah 5:2, the Bible tells us:
“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.” [Micah 5:2]
Sometime roughly 700 years before Jesus’ birth, Micah prophecies that a ruler would come out of the small town of Bethlehem. Ephrathah is the region in which the town of Bethlehem is located. Indeed, an eternal ruler (from of old, from ancient days) would come from that small town.
The story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is well known. Last week, we looked at his virgin birth of Jesus to Mary. Most people know the story of how Joseph and Mary travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem while Mary was pregnant with Jesus in order to be counted in the Roman census. Luke 2:4-7 tells us the story of Jesus’ birth:
“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to 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, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. “ [Luke 2:4-7]
Lest there be any doubt that the Old Testament passage in Micah prophecies that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, let’s look at the New Testament interpretation of this verse. Following Jesus’ birth, Magi came from the east and visited King Herod. Matthew 2:3-6 recounts what happened when Herod inquired about where the Messiah would be born:
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” [Matthew 2:3-6]
Before Herod even knew who Jesus was, the interpreters of the Old Testament in his kingdom were able to tell Herod exactly where the Messiah would be born. There was no question in their minds! This led to Herod’s decree that all boys two years of age and under be killed to eliminate the Messiah. We will look at this event in a future Monday Morning Prophecy.
In another account during Jesus’ ministry, the people question whether Jesus could actually be the Messiah because they mistakenly assumed he was from Galilee and not from Bethlehem. John 7:41-42 recounts:
Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” [John 7:41-42]
It is ironic that they questioned his status as the Christ because his place of origin when in fact he was born in Bethlehem. As with many of the prophecies we have looked at to date, Jesus obviously had no control over where he would be born. This is just another amazing detail of the live of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, which God foretold in the Old Testament hundreds of years before Jesus took on human form and came to this earth to save his people from their sins!
Image courtesy of Abby Reed