Bethlehem of Judea: By no means the least

Bethlehem_Polenov

A painting of Bethlehem in 1882 by Palenov

Originally posted a year ago, today’s blog entry is modified and re-posted below:

In the Verse of the Day for December 13, 2016 we find another passage related to one of the prophecies foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ. When Herod encountered the wise men who came seeking the “King of the Jews,” his response is recorded in Matthew 2:4-6 (NASB):

Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘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.’”

The prophet referred to is Micah who had made this prophetic declaration regarding place where the Messiah would be born:

Micah 5:2–5 (AMP):


“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah;
From you One shall come forth for Me [who is] to be Ruler in Israel,
His goings forth (appearances) are from long ago,
From ancient days.”

Therefore, He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has given birth to a child.
Then what is left of His kinsmen
Shall return to the children of Israel.

And He shall stand and shepherd and guide His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall dwell [secure in undisturbed peace],
Because at that time He shall be great [extending His authority]
[Even] to the ends of the earth.

This One [the Messiah] shall be our peace.

When the Assyrian invades our land
And tramples on our citadels and in our palaces,
Then shall we raise against him
Seven shepherds and eight princes [an overpowering force] among men.

Located about six miles southwest of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is not only the birthplace of Jesus Christ, but the city has a rich heritage as a place of importance in God’s plan for humanity. Genesis 35:19 (NLT) records the first mention of the town:

 

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)

 

In Hebrew the name means “house of bread.” Recall that the account of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz from the book of Ruth takes place in Bethlehem, where Naomi returns with Ruth after the famine in Moab. David, the King, the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz was born and grew up in Bethlehem. Eventually the Judean town became known as the City of David, for it was there the prophet Samuel anointed him to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13).

 

The account of the birth of Jesus Christ provides a confluence of circumstances that merge in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph found themselves at that particular location when Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken. Every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being a descendent of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary, his wife who was pregnant at the time. Because of the overcrowded conditions due to the census, the inn where they sought refuge was full, and Mary gave birth to Savior of the World in the primitive conditions of a stable where the child was laid in a manger.

A number of the songs celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ mention Bethlehem, including “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” with its resounding refrain:  “One for the little biddy baby who was born, born, born in Bethlehem.”

Mandisa, gospel artist, offers a contemporary rendition of this Christmas classic:

 

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One Response to “Bethlehem of Judea: By no means the least”

  1. Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem | Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe Says:

    […] this month, a blog entry also focused on the place where the Savior was born, as we note in “Bethlehem: More than the place of the Savior’s birth.” In addition, in the past I have posted a list of the Top 10 Christmas Spirituals with a discussion […]

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