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Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 19: Christmas According to Micah

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, ESV

Christmas According to Micah:
The Shepherd-King from Bethlehem

Western Pennsylvania is a collection of small towns where coal mines and steel mills once fueled thriving economies but where the best days seems like a distant memory. For whatever reason (maybe it's the water), this small region of the country has produced five of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of football: Joe Namath, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas and the greatest NFL quarterback of all-time, Joe Montana. 

As impressive as the quarterback record of Western Pennsylvania is, Bethlehem's record of leadership is far more impressive. Bethlehem was a very small town six miles to the south of Jerusalem. It was so small that it was not listed among the towns of Judah when Judah's territory was allotted to it in the book of Joshua. Yet this small town was the center of the redeeming activity in the book of Ruth, home to the righteous Boaz, a shining light in the dark times of the Judges. King David arose from tending the sheep in Bethlehem to leading the people of God to victory over the Philistines and then establishing Jerusalem as the capital city of a strong and unified Israel.

After Boaz and David, Bethlehem seemed to fall back into irrelevant obscurity until Micah prophesied something wonderful 300 years later. Micah said that God would raise up a very powerful king from Bethlehem. This king would be very special in His origin, His strength, the effect of His rule and His renown:

1. His coming forth would be "from of old, from ancient days." This expression indicates that this coming King would actually be anciently old in His origins.

2. He would shepherd the people of God in the strength of the Lord, far beyond the power and might of any mere human being. 

3. He would give His people true security. Finally, under His good rule, they would dwell secure.
4. He would be great and highly regarded to the ends of the earth, earning world-wide renown.

Of course, we know that King Jesus perfectly fulfills the description laid out by Micah. Jesus was born in Bethlehem 700 years after Micah gave His prophecy, but His origins are from eternity past. His coming forth was decided in the divine counsel before creation and He was promised from the very beginning of the world. His strength that He displayed during His earthly ministry was the very power of God, over nature and demons and diseases and more. He alone gives His people the true security our restless hearts desire, and He is highly exalted in every corner of the world, worshiped and glorified all over the earth.

This Christmas, let us follow and find security in this great Shepherd-King. He came to be our strength and our peace, so let's find all that we need in Him.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being our Good Shepherd and our Mighty King. You laid down Your life for Your sheep that we may dwell secure in You, forgiven and free. Let out hearts find rest in You alone this Christmas season and always, Amen.  

Here's Matt Redman's version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (The Glory of Christmas):

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