Matthew 2:4-6 (NIV)
When Herod 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 Micah 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.’” (Citing Micah 5:2)
The Messiah’s place of birth was foretold centuries before His Advent through the Prophet Micah. This would be another fulfillment revealed in the New Testament of the numerous prophesies surrounding the Messiah’s birth and His role in the plans and purposes of God foretold in the Old Testament scriptures. I want to reprint our prophetic Verse of the Day in its context for us:
Micah 5:2-4 (NIV)
“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.
Notice how God chose a “small” clan from the tribe of Judah … from whom David and the lineage of the kings of Israel descended. This speaks to the human meekness of the Messiah to come … whose human origins would reflect these humble circumstances. Jesus’ mother, Mary, testified of her own poverty in The Magnificat (Cf. Luke 1:46-55) when she reflected that God “has been mindful of the humble state of His servant,” and that God “has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up (exalted) the humble.” And I love that the Prophet Micah also affirms the origins of the Messiah are “from of old, from ancient times.” To me, this speaks to the divinity of the Messiah to come … whose eternal origin would be reflected in His self-existence. The Apostle John articulates this theological truth as he opens his Gospel narrative: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” And, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (Cf. John 1:1-2, 14)
Because this prophecy references a ruler – a king over Israel – we have a better understanding of the “threat” that King Herod perceived to his own governance over the land of Palestine in those days. His internal fears led him to order the genocide of all the males born in that region who were two years old and under….
Matthew 2:1-18 (NIV)
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi (interpreted wise men) from the East came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 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. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘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.’” (Cf. Micah 5:2-4) 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”(Cf. Hosea 11:1) 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Cf. Jeremiah 31:15)
When we evaluate the inspired narrative preserved for us, and as we see how prophesies are fulfilled in great detail and accuracy, we are led to the same conclusion as the New Testament writers: Jesus IS the promised Messiah … the Holy One of Israel. There is enough evidence (fulfilled prophecy) along with the eyewitness accounts of His resurrection to convince us that Jesus IS who He claimed to be … the Son of God … the Word of God … who was with God from the beginning! So, as we reflect on the prophecies about the Jesus, I pray that these testimonies will affirm in our hearts the message of Christmas IS Jesus – and Jesus alone! The supernatural miracle of His birth … the humble circumstances of His birth … the poverty of His parents, yet the riches of their obedient faith … the redemptive purpose for which He was sent to dwell among us … all of these reflections should fill us with exceedingly great joy! Indeed, Jesus is the reason we can rejoice in God our Savior! O Come Let Us Adore Him!