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Micah 5:2


Intro: In 1865 the Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Boston, Mass., was helping with a Christmas Eve service in Bethlehem. He later wrote about his feelings as he descended from Jerusalem in Bethlehem riding a horse. He said, “I remember standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I knew well, telling each other of the Wonderful Night of the Savior’s birth.”[1]

      Two years later, in 1867, Phillip Brooks, put his pen to paper and wrote a very special and very biblical song we sing each year at Christmas time. He wrote “O, Little Town Of Bethlehem”. Allow me a moment to share with you three verses of that precious hymn:


O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.


For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,

While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.

O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,

And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!


O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

      Those verses declare the heart of Christmas. It is a time of celebration, a time of salvation and a time of contemplation. Long before Philip Brooks was even born, the prophet Micah put his pen to paper and wrote something about the little town of Bethlehem. In forty brief words, Micah tells the story of a special town. Though his words may be brief, they contain a wealth of spiritual truth.

      The Story Of Bethlehem is a special story that needs to be told and retold in the days in which we live. We are living in a day when the real story of the birth of Jesus is lost amid trees, decorations, shopping and giving. Santa Claus, Rudolph and Frosty have eclipsed Jesus as the reason for the season. We need to remember that Christmas means more than a pile of shredded wrapping paper and credit card bills. The story of Christmas is the story of a little town called Bethlehem. Allow me to share The Story Of Bethlehem with you.

  I.                              IT IS THE STORY OF A PLACE

(Ill. When Micah writes of Bethlehem he writes about a small place that will produce great things. While Bethlehem may have been a tiny hamlet in the country of Israel, it had a colorful past and brilliant future.

      When we think of Bethlehem, all we think about is that Bethlehem is the birthplace of the Lord Jesus. But, in the history of that little town, there is a wealth of spiritual truth. It would do us well today to examine this place called Bethlehem.)

A.  The town of Bethlehem is located five miles south of Jerusalem. We do not know when the town was founded, but it is first mentioned in a letter from one of the kings of Palestine to an Egyptian Pharaoh in 1250 BC. This would have been during the time of the Judges. It would seem that Bethlehem existed when Israel invaded Canaan.

B.  The name “Bethlehem” means “House of Bread”. Micah also calls it by another name “Ephratah”. This is an older name for the city. The name “Ephratah” means “Place of Fruitfulness”.


      (Ill. How fitting that Jesus should be born here! After all, He is “The Bread of Life”, John 6:35. He promised that all who ate that Bread would never hunger again! He satisfies those who feed on Him, Psa. 107:9.

            He is the One Who can take a barren life, change it by His grace, and turn it into a fruitful life for His glory, John 15:1-8; Gal. 5:22-23; 2 Cor. 5:17.)


C.  Bethlehem is first mentioned in Gen. 35:16-20. As Jacob and his family are journeying home to Canaan, Rachel goes into labor and gives birth to Benjamin. Rachel dies in childbirth, and as she is dying, she calls her son's name “Benoni”, which means “Son of my sorrow”. Rachel was buried outside Bethlehem. Jacob changed his name to “Benjamin”, which means “Son of my right hand”. Bethlehem is first mentioned in a very negative context. It is associated with sorrow and death.


      (Ill. Again, Jesus can take a place associated with grief and suffering and turn it into a place associated with glory. While He was here on this earth, Jesus was “a Man of Sorrows”, Isa. 53:1-3. The One Who created the universe had nowhere to lay His head, Matt. 8:20. The One Who left Heaven above to come die for His people was rejected by the very people He came to reach, John 1:11. He knew pain and sorrow for in the end, He was crucified for the sins of the world, Isa. 53:4-6. He was our “Benoni”! He was the “Son of My Sorrow”!

            Thank God the story doesn’t end with Jesus on a cross! He died and was buried, but He rose again on the third day, Matt. 28:1-6. He then ascended back in to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of God, where He ever lives to make intercession for you and me, Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12. Jesus is our "Son of the Right Hand".)


D.  One of the judges of ancient Israel, a man named Ibzan, was from Bethlehem, Judges 12:8-10.


      (Ill. Jesus the One Who will judge the earth was from this town too, Rev. 19:15.)


E.  The beautiful story of Ruth was played out in the town of Bethlehem. It was in Bethlehem that Ruth the Moabitess found redemption from her pain and her past. She found grace, mercy, love, acceptance, restoration, hope, family and a future, all in that place called Bethlehem.


      (Ill. The One born in Bethlehem is the One Who provided salvation in its fullness for all who will receive Him, John 1:12. The salvation found in Jesus promises all the things Ruth found in Bethlehem and so much more, Ill. Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7:25.)


F.  It was here in Bethlehem that David, the young shepherd boy, was anointed King over the nation of Israel, 1 Sam. 16:1-13.


      (Ill. It was at Bethlehem that the “Shepherd of our souls”, the One Who found us wandering on the black hills of our sins, Luke 15:4-7, was born, 1 Pet. 2:25. It was here that the “Good Shepherd” was born, Psa. 22; John 10:9-11. It was here that the “Great Shepherd” was born, Psa. 23:1-6. It was here that the “Chief Shepherd” came into this world, Psa. 24:1-10.)


G.  It was the thought of a drink from the well at Bethlehem that refreshed the soul of David during a day of battle, 2 Sam. 23:14-16.


      (Ill. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a well was given to men. Everyone who drinks from this well will find that their thirst is quenched for all eternity, John 6:35; John 7:37-38.)

H.  Bethlehem was the focus of an amazing prophecy by the prophet Micah. That prophecy is the focus of our text today, Micah. 5:2.

I.  Bethlehem witnessed the most amazing miracle the world has ever seen. Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, God in the flesh was born here, Luke 2:1-20. I will say more about this in a moment.

J.  Bethlehem was where the wise men found the child Jesus and offered Him their worship and their gifts, Matt. 2:1-12. Wise men still seek Him so that they can love Him and worship Him!

K.  Bethlehem has a storied history! And, what a story it tells!


 II.                               IT IS THE STORY OF A PLAN

(Ill. Micah tells us that the story of Bethlehem is about a place. But, it is also about a plan. The words “out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel” tell us that God had big plans for the little town of Bethlehem. Let’s take a few minutes to examine God’s eternal plan.)

A.  When man sinned in Eden, God gave humanity the first glimpse of His plan. He told Adam and Eve that a Redeemer would be born someday down the line, Gen. 3:15. This Redeemer would defeat the devil.

            As the years went by, more and more of God’s plan was revealed. When God saved His people out of their bondage in Egypt by the blood of a Lamb, Ex. 12, He revealed a little more of His plan. When He gave them the Manna and brought water from a rock, He revealed even more. When He gave Israel the Law and the sacrificial system, He was revealing His plan. Every aspect of the Tabernacle, the priesthood and the sacrifices revealed more and more of God’s plan.

            Through the mouths of the prophets God gave insight into His plan. When Isaiah wrote about a virgin birth, Isa. 7:14, he was writing about the plan. When he told us about that child that was to be born, Isa. 9:6, he was writing about the plan. When he told us about the Messiah and the pain He would suffer, Isa. 53:1-6, he was writing about the plan.

            Then Micah revealed the birth place of the Messiah. He told us where the King would be born. He told us that the One Who would fulfill the plan would come from the little town of Bethlehem. He was merely revealing more of the plan!

B.  God’s plan is an old plan, Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8. He formulated this plan in eternity past and carried it out in time. This plan involved God becoming a man. It involved Him coming into this world to live as a man. It involved Him going to the cross to die for the sins of fallen men. It involved Him rising from the dead and ascending back to Heaven. It involved Him returning in glory to rule and reign on this earth some day. This plan is a good plan! It was a plan designed with you and me in mind! Micah didn’t know all the details of God’s eternal plan; he just knew that a King was coming. The rest of the Bible reveals the other details of the plan.

C.  I praise God that He included me in His plan! Before you and I were even on the minds of our parents, God put us in His plan! He loved us before we were even born and had a plan in place to save us. He looked down through time and focused His love and grace on your life and mine. He sent His Son to die for us 2,000 years ago. Then, when we came into this world, He worked out all the details and the circumstances of our lives to bring us face to face with the Lord Jesus.

      He made His plan. He worked His plan. He accomplished His plan. I do not understand everything there is to know about His plan. But, I praise God for it anyway!


III.                             IT IS THE STORY OF A PERSON

(Ill. Micah closes this verse with these words: “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” These words reveal the truth that this One Who would be born in Bethlehem was no ordinary Man. In fact, Micah tells us that while He may be coming out of Bethlehem, He is eternal! He may be born in Bethlehem, but He will not have His beginning there.)

A.  The story of Bethlehem is the story of a miracle. It is a miracle more profound than that of healing a leper, restoring sight to a blind man, healing a withered limb, casting out a demon, or even raising a man from the dead. It is a miracle more profound than even the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The miracle to which I refer is the miracle that took place in Bethlehem when Jesus Christ was born.

B.  The story of Bethlehem is that God became human. Now, He did not stop being God! No, He merely added humanity to His deity. Theologians call this “The Hypostatic Union”. Somehow, God placed Himself within Mary’s womb. He was born some nine months later. When Mary gave birth to her first born Son, she saw just a little baby boy. In truth, she was looking at God in human flesh! Here is how the Bible describes it: John 1:1, 14; Phil 2:5-8. We cannot comprehend everything related to the incarnation of the Lord Jesus. But, somehow, God became a man!

      He was still 100% God. Yet, He became 100% man. He was as much God as if He had never been a man. And, He was as much man as if He had never been God! He was the God-Man. He experienced humanity in its fullness. He suffered, He got hungry, He got thirsty, He knew loneliness, He knew grief, He grew weary, He got tired, He slept, He wept, He was rejected, and He died. Yet, while He was absolutely human, He lived His entire life without committing a single sin! He didn’t sin just because He was good, though He was. He didn’t sin because He was God!  He doesn’t ask us to explain it; He just expects us to believe it!

C.  Let’s put this into context for just a moment.

·         When Jesus was born, the Creator of the universe became instantly dependent upon His mother for His very life.

·         The Bread of Life needed the milk His mother provided so that He could live!

·         The One Who made the sun and caused its light to heat the earth needed His mother to wrap His body in swaddling cloths so that He might be warm.

·         The One Who’s heart was so full of love for humanity that He left Heaven to come and die for sinners, needed to feel His mothers arms wrapped around Him for comfort.

·         The One Who made it all, controls it all and owns it all, laid it all aside and became a helpless infant because He loved us so much.

·         “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich,”  2 Cor. 8:9.

D.  Why did Jesus come to this world? Why would He willingly leave Heaven with all its glories to live in this sin-stained world? Why would He die for people who cared nothing for Him? Well, the Bible is filled with answers to those questions. I want to share a reason or two with you today.

  1.  To reveal the invisible God - Jn. 1:18; 14:9

  2.  To fulfill prophecy - Gen. 3:15

  3.  To make a sacrifice for our sins - Heb. 2:9; Heb. 10:4, 5, 10, 12; 1 Jn. 3:5; Mk. 10:45

  4.  To reconcile man to God - 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6

  5.  To provide an example for believers - 1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jn. 2:6

  6.  To provide the believer with a high priest – Heb. 2:17; 3:1

  7.  To destroy the devil and his works – Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8

  8.  To destroy the curse – Rom. 5:12

  9.  To heal the broken hearted – Luke 4:18

10.  To give abundant life – John 3:36; 10:10

11.  To glorify the Father – John 13:31; 14:13; 17:4

12.  To comfort us as we travel toward Heaven – Heb. 4:15-16.

E.  In the final analysis, Jesus came to this earth in the fashion that He did because He loved you and wanted to give His life a ransom for your sins. He came because He cares! He came because He wants to see you saved and in Heaven someday. He came because He loves you!


Conc: There is more to Bethlehem’s story! I have only shared a small portion of that story with you today. There are parts of that story that will not be told until we are in His presence in glory. But, the parts we do have of that story need to be told in this day and hour.

      As you think about what God did when He sent Jesus into this world to die for sinner, ask yourself a couple of questions.

1.  Do I believe the story?

2.  Have I ever trusted Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection for my soul’s salvation?

3.  Am I as thankful for the story as I should be?

      If the Lord has spoken to you through the story of Bethlehem, this altar is open. You come as He leads you!

[1] http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/l/olittle.htm

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