“Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.” (Micah 5:1-2)
We have thus far seen that the Old Testament not only prophesied that the Jewish Messiah to be from the seed of a woman, the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and the family of David. The Old Testament also prophesied that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem. What do we know about Bethlehem?
There are actually two towns mentioned in Scripture which have the name Bethlehem. The first is a town located in the Galilean region about six miles W. of Nazareth, Josh. 19:15. Israel judged at, Judg. 12:10. It is often referred to as Bethlehem of the Tribe of Zebulun.
The second town of Bethlehem is a city S.W. of Jerusalem (Judg. 17:7; 19:18) also referred to as Ephratah and Ephrath, meaning “House of Bread.” Rachel, Jacob’s wife, died and was buried at Bethlehem (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7). It was also known as the city of Boaz (Ruth 1:1, 19; 2:4; 4). Bethlehem was taken and held by the Philistines (2 Sam. 23:14–16). King Jeroboam converted the city into a military stronghold (2 Chr. 11:6). Bethlehem was known as the city of Joseph (Matt. 2:5, 6; Luke 2:4).
According to the Prophet Micah, Bethlehem of Judea would be the birthplace of the Messiah, also referred to as the ruler of Israel. Does the New Testament confirm that Jesus was born in Bethlehem? The obvious answer is yes.
Luke 2:1-7 says, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Matthew 2:1 says, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king…”
Finally, John 7:40-42 says, “Therefore many from the crowd…said, truly this is the Prophet. Others said, this is the Christ! But some said, Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”
One of the most familiar facts of the Christmas story is that Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem. It was here that angels announced His birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-14). It was in Bethlehem that the shepherds visited the manger scene and found Mary, Joseph and the Baby (Luke 2:15-20). It was also in Bethlehem that the Magi, or Wise Men, searched and found Jesus and presented Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-12).
Indeed, the New Testament clearly presents the birth place of Jesus as Bethlehem thereby qualifying once again to be the long, awaited Messiah.
I encourage you to meditate upon the lyrics of the familiar Christmas carol entitled O Little Town of Bethlehem by 19th century hymn writer Phillip Brooks.
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 to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found her.
Soli deo Gloria!