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One Husband, One Wife, Five Children and Everything in Between

Jesse Tree day 19

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth. -Micah 5:2-4

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. -Luke 2:1-7

The name Bethlehem, literally means “house of bread”. It was a name of several towns in the area, which is even common for us today to find towns in different states with the same name. Miami, FL is nothing like Miami, OK. The people of Oklahoma don’t even pronounce it the same way.

The significance of the passage in Micah is that it names the specific town of Bethlehem, Bethlehem Ephrathah. This is the town that King David’s family derive. Other than David, the town is small and insignificant. It was a small town in the area of Judah, near Jerusalem, but in no way compared to Jerusalem’s significance. The Jewish scholars noted that this would be the town that the Messiah to come would be derived.

The first time this is noted is in Matthew. The entourage from the east arrived in Jerusalem in search of the King of the Jews. They meet Herod to ask for help finding him.  They had seen a great star and traveled the distance to worship the newly arrived king.

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”- Matthew 2:3-6

The priests and teachers of the Law recognized the significance of the prophecy in Micah. Having this bit of information, Herod send the foreigners on to Bethlehem to find this new king. He had secret plans to take him out. (We’ll discuss this more in a couple of days.)

There is another time when the teachers of the law bring of the prophecy of Bethlehem. We find this account in John 7. It is during the Feast of Tabernacles (the same time that Jesus will later proclaim “I AM the light of the world.”). Jesus’ brothers tried to tell him to go to Jerusalem and “show off” his miracles. Jesus hangs back, and later goes up to Jerusalem. Half way through the Feast, Jesus begins to teach in the temple area. Naturally a crowd is draw, amazed by his knowledge and speaking ability.

As crowd mentality tends to do, things seem to turn bad. There are some that no longer appreciate what he is teaching, because it contradicts their comfortable religious apathies. Speaking to the leaders, Jesus questions why they are trying to kill him (although they can’t because it’s not quite time). The crowd is confused. Some think he’s talking to them and that he’s a little crazy. Others understand the seriousness of the situation- that the leadership thinks he may be the Messiah.

At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” John 7:26-27

As the situation intensifies the religious leaders begin to go into panic mode. The crowd seems to begin to piece together what Jesus us claiming- He is God’s Son, the Messiah. They must stop him. They try to arrest Jesus, but are unable. (verse 30)

On the last day of the Festival, the situation continues to intensify. Jesus makes a huge proclamation, to try and clear the situation:

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:37-39

Jesse Tree Day 19

Jesus proclaims- I am the Messiah. At this the crowd is thrown into more confusion. Some hear what he is saying but don’t quite put it all together. They call him the Prophet, referring to the one before the Messiah (who was John the Baptist). Other have put it all together and understand. Jesus is the Messiah. Then there is some disagreement.

Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. John 7:41-44

 

There are some who believe that because Jesus was from the Galilee area, that the Bethlehem mentioned in the gospels was twisted later. They claim that he was really born in Bethlehem of Galilee, not Judea. They claim that the writers of the gospels changed the city to the one prophesied so that the prophecy would then have been fulfilled. I can’t help but think that this argument is invalid. Why would the writers of the gospels point out this same argument that even the people of Jesus time used. The people knew Jesus was from Nazareth, the Galilee area. That’s part of the confusion about him being the Messiah. The people (well, some of them) were familiar with the Messiah as to come from Judah. Jesus’ birth was unknown to them, and what they didn’t see was that the prophesy was correct and was fulfilled in Jesus.

So what is the significance of Jesus being born in Bethlehem of Judea, David’s birthplace? We have studied the covenant, or promise, that God made to David. God would protect his line for kings and would one day send the Savior from this line. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem not only fulfills the prophecy from Micah, but the other prophecies and promises made about David. Jesus is the root of Jesse fulfilled.

Family Devotion:

gather old family pictures, birth certificates, etc., Bible and ornament

Look together through pictures or other birth keepsakes. Talk about your children’s birth, memories you have, things you’ve kept to remember it. Read the Micah passage together. Explain the significance of Jesus’ birthplace. Not only was the Micah passage fulfilled, but all the prophesies about the Messiah to come. Pray together, thanking God for His word that is true.

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