By Stephen Leonard
“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
Seven long centuries from first being spoken to being fulfilled! The prophecy of the Messiah’s birthplace from ancient history proved to be precisely accurate, but was curiously ignored.
This prophecy about the little birthplace, Bethlehem, was right on the mark! It was a tiny, blink-in-the-road village a few miles outside of the relatively large capital of Israel, Jerusalem; so small it was unheard of by most everyone. And the actual mother of Jesus lived in far-off Nazareth.
The insignificance of Bethlehem over against the true home of Mary renders this prophecy of Jesus of Nazareth’s birthplace all the more impressive. Mary had to be transposed far from her home on short notice, undergo a hard journey on a donkey when at least eight months pregnant, and Bethlehem itself was such an obscure place.
The accurate prophecy of a distant future birthplace elucidates the amazing, supernatural character of the Book in which it is contained. There is no one who should not be utterly convinced of the truth of the Scriptures, when you consider well over 300 prophesies of the coming Messiah, all being right on the money.
The events of Bethlehem on that silent night crept up on the world’s lackadaisical anticipation of the advent of Messiah. Very few, if any, other than Simeon or Anna, were looking for His entrance into the world, even though His coming was prophetically made manifest to the world.
When the Magi asked Herod’s court where the “King of the Jews” was to be born, only a few experts of the Old Testament Scriptures (the Law) were aware of Micah 5:2. Apparently, the hearers of the few experts answer of Bethlehem were not even moved enough actually to go to Bethlehem to investigate. The world continued in its dumb state to acknowledge the birth of a Savior so accurately foretold.
The “House of Bread,” that is, the meaning of the name of “Bethlehem,” though it was King David’s birthplace, was not associated with David as Jerusalem was. And Jesus became known as an adult as “Jesus of Nazareth” rather than “of Bethlehem.” So Bethlehem, more known and visited today than Nazareth, remained a really unnoticed place when Jesus was born, and even for many centuries thereafter. His actual house was never set aside, renovated, or visited by the masses, as are the birth homes of famous historic personages today.
But the true and accurate story of the events of Christmas night in little Bethlehem with its nearby shepherds’ fields, as told by Luke, is known, memorized, and revered throughout the world. The Christ-star settled over the small house where Jesus lived in Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph, leading the Magi, one of two famous visitor groups, to the Messiah.
I dare say, Bethlehem today is the most famous birthplace of any in the world.