By Pr Isaiah White
The Old Testament prophets prophesied almost everything about Jesus Christ.
As earlier discussed in our 2021 December edition, The Old Testament prophets announced coming of Jesus, Prophet Micah, in his words, said:
“Now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops; He has laid siege against us; they will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.
“Therefore, He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labour has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel.
“And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall abide, for now, He shall be great to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:1-4).
The Prophet spoke to the nation of Israel in difficult times.
It was a time when the people of God were under siege from all borders. At that point, the prophet foretold hope from one place – Bethlehem.
From this small city, the Messianic Redeemer was to be born. According to prophecy, Bethlehem was about to produce a leader who would save His people from their physical and spiritual siege.
Significance of place
Everything in the Bible has significance. In the Bible, a place is of great importance because it communicates several things.
For instance, in the New Testament (John 1:44-46), when Nathaniel was told about Jesus, he asked: “Where does He (Jesus) come from?”
He was told that Jesus came from Nazareth, and he asked again: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
The Hebrew word for place is Maqom (transliteration). It carries a sense of purpose rather than that of geography.
As seen in the Bible, a place is non-existent without people or an event.
The importance of a place grows from experience and physical surroundings.
For example, there is the layered significance of the Jordan River, which at various points marked important social transitions (Joshua 1:1-3, Joshua 3:1-17) and political and metaphorical boundaries (2Samuel 15-17), including in the New Testament (Mark 1:4-8).
Bethlehem is hope
Bible scholars still debate whether Jesus was born in Bethlehem or not. Some say Jesus was Born in Nazareth, while others argue that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
The record in the New Testament Gospel confirms Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
It is true Jesus was raised and started His ministry in Nazareth, but that is not where He was born.
The relevance of Bethlehem, however, is not in its geographical location (though it was in Judah), but in two important histories.
First, the city has too much to do with the most popular King of Israel, David.
Bethlehem had a close association with the Davidic monarchy and it is no wonder Prophet Micah anticipated a redeemer of David’s kind would only come from Bethlehem.
In Ruth 4:17-22, Elimelek and Naomi were from Bethlehem, and Naomi returned there from Moab with her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, who later married her kinsman-redeemer Boaz.
In that story, Boaz and Ruth were the ancestors of King David.
In the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Saviour presented to us by Matthew in the New Testament, Boaz and Ruth are ancestors of Jesus.
Prophet Samuel anointed David as King of Israel in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
According to Micah 5:4, Jesus is the leader who was born in Bethlehem.
In relation to this, John Piper, an American theologian, emphasizes four things about Jesus:
First, that He will stand. He will not lie around waiting for us to serve Him. He will be on His toes, alert, working for those who trust Him as their shepherd.
Secondly, that Jesus will shepherd His flock. He will not leave us to find our food.
He will lead us in green pastures and beside still waters. There will be no need unmet in Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, that He will serve us in the strength of the Lord, the majesty of His God.
His good intentions for us will not be hindered by a lack of strength.
The strength of the Lord is Omnipotent. Therefore, if you are trusting in Christ, Omnipotent strength is on your side.
Walk behind Him like a trusting sheep and He will overcome every obstacle to your purification and joy forever.
Fourthly, notice that He shall be great to the ends of the earth. There will be no pockets of resistance unsubdued.
Our security will not be threatened by any alien forces. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess Him as Lord and the Earth will be filled with His glory.
The writer is a life coach and pastor.
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