Bethlehem - The Least Among Cities
Bethlehem literally means house of bread. Jesus is the bread of life that comes down from the Father. Bethlehem was the smallest of the tribal cities of Israel. Yet, it was there that Jesus was born, in the smallest town in the humblest dwelling, wrapped in the humblest burial cloths (swaddling) and laid in the humblest bed, a feeding trough (manger).
Now Jesus is the true Bread that came down from Heaven. The manna that fell from Heaven in the wilderness for Israel while they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land was food for this life and that bread had to be eaten fresh everyday. Any left over from the previous day would spoil and have no life sustaining value. That bread was a type and shadow of Jesus, the true Bread that would come from Heaven to give eternal life.
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.” John 6:32
“I am that bread of life.” John 6:48
“This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” John 6:58
Though just a small village, Bethlehem is a significant geographical location in the history of Israel. It was the burial place of Jacob’s wife, Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, two of the twelve sons of Israel. It was the home that Naomi returned to from Egypt with Ruth after the famine ended. It is the place where Ruth meets Boaz the kinsman redeemer of Naomi’s property and inheritance after the death of her husband, Elimelech and their sons Mahlon and Chilion.
It is here that Ruth and Boaz have a son, Obed who has a son, Jesse who has a son, David.
David, the son of Jesse was born in Bethlehem, and Joseph traced his lineage back to David at the time of the census, which brought them from Nazareth to Bethlehem so that it might be fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet.
“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.” Micah 5:2
The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem reminds us that God’s Word is sure, and all that He has promised will come to pass in its time.
Are these just mere coincidences?
1) The fact that Caesar Augustus would declare a tax for all the world (Roman) just at the time Jesus was to be born,
2) That the taxation would require Joseph and Mary to leave Nazareth to go to Bethlehem to be registered,
3) That Joseph would just happen to have been born in Bethlehem,
4) That it was also the birth place of David whose Kingdom rule was prophesied to be unending,
5) That Jesus would be the heir to that kingdom authority forever,
6) That Mary would deliver the baby while they were there in Bethlehem,
7) That the name of the city would mean House of Bread.
Coincidence? No coincidence, not even in the smallest detail. Bethlehem was no accident of time. It was the precise fulfillment of God’s eternal plan and purpose.
When we are tempted to think that we have embarked on a journey that is futile and will never be fulfilled or that we’ve hoped for an eventual good harvest of our seed sown or our prayers prayed, or our petitions submitted to God; when it seems like things are not going in the right direction, remember that what God has promised He is able to and will deliver. Is anything too hard for God? Bethlehem is only further proof that with God all things are possible.
In this season of miracles, lift up your eyes, light up your hearts, lift up your faith and believe, Believe!, BELIEVE! that the earnest, God inspired desires of your heart rooted and grounded in the Word of God will come to pass just as God has said.
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 street shineth
Thee everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years’
Are met in thee tonight.