But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
For further study -Micah 5:1-4
The key verse for our devotional today is a very familiar Christmas passage, the prophecy of the actual town where the Messiah would be born, "the little town of Bethlehem".
What has been very interesting to me over the years that I have led tours through the "land of the Bible" and listened to my Israeli guides say over and over again that the "place" doesn't matter, it's the "person" that is important.
It is true that the "person", Jesus Christ, is what any trip to Israel and the rest of the land areas, spoken of in the Bible, is all about and the reason any one would want to visit this region of the world. People want to "walk in the footsteps of Jesus".
However, I must hasten to add that the "place" is as important as the "person" if one is really to come to a proper understanding of the record of Biblical history. There are many times in the record of "history", "His story", that the location is an absolute in order to know if what happened is truth.
The Christmas Story is a prime example that the "person" and the "place" are key to the validity of the account of what happened and it's accuracy in the record of the "first coming" of Jesus Christ. Both must be correct in order for this event to be the fulfillment of the many prophecies that foretold of the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God.
There are two towns in Israel that are called "Bethlehem", and one of them is much closer to the community where Mary and Joseph lived than Bethlehem Ephratah where Jesus was born. The other Bethlehem is in the area of the land that was given to Zebulon and is not far from Nazareth.
It would have been much easier for Mary, who was "heavy with child" to travel the few miles from her home to the northern Bethlehem than to the one some ninety miles from Nazareth, near Jerusalem.
In fact, had Jesus been born on the way in any number of little towns, Jericho, Bethany or even Jerusalem, He would not have been the one spoken of by the ancient Jewish Prophets. In order for Jesus to be the true Messiah He had to fulfill all Bible prophecy in absolute detail.
Before we leave the Christmas Story that is prophesied in the book of Micah let's take a look at a verse in Micah 4, verse 8. This verse mentions that the Messiah will come to a place called, in the Hebrew, "Migdal Edar", which in English is "tower of the flock".
This phrase is mentioned only one other time in the scriptures and that is in Genesis 35:21 when it refers to the location Jacob, "Israel", traveled to and pitched his tent after he had buried his wife Rachel. The location is on the road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, which is just about four miles between the two.
"Migdal Edar", the "tower of the flock", refers to a two story stone structure that serves as the watchtower for the shepherds overseeing their sheep in the "shepherds fields" at Bethlehem. In the top story the chief shepherd looks out across the fields to make sure nothing is bothering his sheep.
The sheep in the Shepherds Fields are the ones that are taken to the Temple to be used in the sacrificial activities called for in the scriptures. By the way, they use the bottom floor of "Migdal Edar" to birth the new-born lambs.
When these lambs are born they are wrapped in "swaddling clothes" and then laid in a "manger" until it has calmed down so this lamb won't be marred and not able to be sacrificed at the Temple.
This is what the Angel told those shepherds that night when Jesus was born, Luke 2:12, and Luke 2:16 said they "went with haste" to the birthplace of Jesus the Messiah. The "person" is important, but also the "place" is an absolute as well in order for prophecy to be fulfilled.
I remind you that Bible prophecy already fulfilled, in exact detail, as called for in the scripture, gives us the assurance that prophecies yet to be fulfilled will also be fulfilled in absolute detail as well.
PRAYER THOT: Dear Lord, thank you for the assurance that all prophecies yet to be fulfilled will be fulfilled as written in your Word. Help me to live in that reality and that these prophecies may well be fulfilled in the very near future.