Archive for the ‘11th Symbol: Bethlehem’ Category

11th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Bethlehem

December 10, 2009

DECEMBER 11: Micah 5:2

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 (NIV)

When the three wise men followed the star after Jesus’ birth, they went to King Herod in Jerusalem to ask where they could find “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Herod knew little about God’s promises, so he asked the religious leaders what they knew. They quoted this verse to tell Herod that the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem. Over 700 years before Jesus’ birth, God had told His people where this promise would be fulfilled!

Bethlehem was not Mary and Joseph’s hometown. They lived in Nazareth. Just before Jesus was to be born, the Roman emperor decided to determine how many people lived under his rule. In order to ensure the census counted the people correctly, the governor ordered everyone to travel to the town of their ancestors. Because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to return to the place of David’s birth—Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph must have been pretty upset about this. It was nearly time for the baby to be born, but instead of staying at home where family members could help Mary with the birth and take care of the new baby, they had to travel to a strange place. They could not ask to wait until after the baby’s birth. Everyone had to obey the demands of the Roman government.

“No Vacancy” signs posted at motels can be unnerving to weary travelers. How much more frightening it must have been for Mary and Joseph to enter a strange town, knowing that the baby would be born soon, and to find that every single inn was full. They must have wondered why God had not arranged for them to stay in Nazareth. God had made many promises to both Mary and Joseph about this baby. If the baby was so special, why was God not taking better care of them?

God was fulfilling His plan. He had promised that His Savior would be born in Bethlehem. The Roman emperor certainly did not know that when he ordered the census, but Mary and Joseph of Nazareth were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. This provides an early clue that this baby was the Savior God had promised.

We often do not understand why God allows us to experience difficulties in our lives. Sometimes afterwards we understand why an inconvenient change of plans actually worked out better. But regardless of our understanding, we simply have to trust that God’s plan is perfect, not just for us, but for His larger plan for all of history. Mary and Joseph were willing to fill their part in God’s plan for the birth of His Son. Are you willing to let God show you where you fit into His design?

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.

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!

Phillips Brooks (1868)

Thank God for Mary and Joseph’s faithful trust in God and for sending Jesus Christ to be born in Bethlehem, and to rule over us forever.

Ask Jesus to rule over your life and to increase your trust in Him and in His leading in your life.

Your angels comfort me when they promise that you shall return in the same manner that you left, as King of kings. When you first came to Bethlehem you were humble and lowly. When you return the fullness of your glory and power shall be revealed.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)