A Ruler Out of Bethlehem

“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.” Micah 5:2

In an ancient prophecy, given some 700 years before the birth of the Messiah and Savior, His birthplace was foretold. Not in Jerusalem, but in Bethlehem (house of bread), a small village south of Jerusalem once called Ephratah or Ephrath (fruitful) – one village among the thousands of Judah – the Messiah was to be born.

But Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, nearly 100 miles to the north, in Galilee. Both Mary and Joseph had been told by an angel that the Child in Mary’s womb was the long-promised Messiah, conceived by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit (cf. Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38); but they were not in Bethlehem. Would the ancient words of God fail? Not at all! A decree from Caesar Augustus took care of all that (cf. Luke 2:1-7).

And just who would this Bethlehem-born Child be? He would be “Ruler in Israel,” meaning that He would be King over God’s chosen people – including a remnant from the tribes of Israel who look to Him for salvation, and also those from outside Israel who are grafted into God’s people and kingdom through faith in the Messiah (cf. Romans 11).

His “goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Contrary to what some think about Messiah Jesus – those who hold to the old Arian heresy and its modern forms – Jesus is the eternal Son of God, neither created nor made. He has always been. He is “from of old, from everlasting.” He is God Himself – Jehovah God, Immanuel – in human flesh, come into this world to redeem fallen mankind and to establish an eternal kingdom over which He shall reign for ever and ever!

Jesus, the anointed King over God’s people, has come and shall rule over His kingdom forever. His everlasting kingdom is made up of all those who, by the gracious working of God’s Spirit, acknowledge the LORD God and the truthfulness of His Word, admit and confess their sins and shortcomings and trust that He mercifully forgives and accepts them as His own dear children for the sake of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ Jesus upon the cross. Those in Messiah’s kingdom look to Christ Jesus for forgiveness – for peace with God – and life everlasting; and, as a fruit of their faith in Jesus, submit to His rule and seek to live in accord with His Word.

From a small and unlikely place, God’s Son, the Messiah and Savior, came into this world. The Child born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger is God Himself come into this world a true man, born of the virgin Mary, that He might redeem us from sin and death and bring us into His everlasting kingdom. And He establishes His kingdom, not by earthly might and power, but by the preaching of His life-giving Word and calling those lost in the darkness of sin into the light of His mercy and forgiveness. Through faith in Him, we have peace with God (cf. Rom. 1:16f.; 5:1).

O dearest Jesus, my God and my King, graciously forgive my sins and grant me a place in Your everlasting kingdom! Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Jesus offers living water which satisfies the soul

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14 (Read John 4:1-42)

What was it that Jesus offered to give this Samaritan woman? She didn’t understand. She thought only of water to quench her earthly thirst and wondered how Jesus would be able to give her living water, having nothing with which to draw it up from the well.

Jesus told her anyone drinking from the well of Jacob would thirst again. This water could only temporarily quench one’s thirst and need for water. But the water Jesus offered and desired to give her was different. It was a water which would satisfy her spiritual thirst forever. The water which Jesus offered and gives would become “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jesus was offering this woman, and us as well, Himself as the Messiah and Savior of the world and eternal salvation through faith in Him (cf. Isaiah 12).

He said in John 6:35: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” In chapter 7:37ff, Jesus said: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John explained: “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.”

Water is, of course, necessary to sustain life; and the people living in the arid parts of Israel knew what it was to thirst.

Jesus and the forgiveness and life He won for all by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross are needed by all to have life eternal. He desires to give to everyone this living water which springs up into everlasting life for He wants no one to perish and be lost forever. He wants to quench and satisfy our continual need for forgiveness and life in fellowship with God our Maker.

It is the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to see Jesus for who He really is: the Son of God and our Savior. It is the Spirit, working through the Word, who assures us that God is gracious to us and forgives our sins for the sake of Jesus’ holy life and innocent sufferings and death in our stead. It is the Holy Spirit who strengthens us in our faith and keeps us trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and life. And God’s Spirit moves and enables us to share our faith and tell others of Jesus and what He has done for us.

So it is that all who come to know and trust in Jesus as Savior have the gift of God’s indwelling Spirit who, not only brought them to such faith and conviction, but keeps them trusting in Jesus and moves them to share their faith with others who thirst spiritually. The life-giving water that Jesus gives is, in all believers, a well of water springing up into everlasting life. It satisfies for eternity and continues to well up within us unto everlasting life.

O dearest Jesus, grant us Your Spirit and the forgiveness and life You have won for us by Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death in our stead. Preserve and keep us in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. Amen.


[Scripture from the King James Version of the Bible]


What do you expect to find? Mark 16

“Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus the Nazarene who has been crucified. He was raised. He is not here. See the place where they put Him?” Mark 16:6 (Read Mark 16:1-16)

The women – Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome – came to the tomb very early Sunday morning expecting to find death. They came to anoint Jesus’ dead body and were wondering who would roll away the great stone from the doorway of the tomb so they could deal with Jesus’ death and decay with spices and ointments.

But what did they find? The large stone had already been rolled back from the entrance of the tomb. And inside the tomb they saw no body, but an angel sitting on the right side. They were amazed.

The angel said to them, ““Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus the Nazarene who has been crucified. He was raised. He is not here. See the place where they put Him?”

They came expecting death, but instead they found life. They came to anoint the dead and decaying body of Jesus, but instead they found that Jesus’ body was not decaying in the tomb (Ps. 16:10); He was raised and alive! Jesus later appeared to them (Matt. 28:9; John 20:1-18), to Peter, to two on the road to Emmaus and to the rest of His disciples (Luke 24:1ff.; 1 Cor. 15:1ff.).

Why have you come today? What do you expect to find? Have you come to anoint the dead body of Jesus – to memorialize Him in some way for His holy life and His innocent sufferings and death? You won’t find Him in the tomb. Instead of finding death, you’ll find life.

You won’t have to roll a stone away; it’s already rolled back. You won’t have to anoint a dead body; He’s not dead but alive, raised from the dead on the third day, as He promised. He’s not moldering in some tomb outside of Jerusalem; He’s risen, glorified and at God’s right hand reigning over all things!

And what does that mean for you and for me? It means His death was full payment for the sins of all the world. “Our Lord Jesus … was delivered because our offenses and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:24,25). In Him we have forgiveness!

It means the cemetery won’t be the place to come looking for us on the Last Day. Our graves too will be empty because Christ Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again, will raise us up. He is the firstfruit of those who sleep (1 Cor. 15:20-23). As He said, “Because I live, you also shall live” (John 14:19). He is preparing us an eternal dwelling place in His Father’s house and will soon come and take us to be with Him forever! Cf. 1 Thess. 4:13ff.

We thank You, dearest Lord Jesus, for going to the cross in our stead and rising up again that we too might be raised up on the Last Day to life everlasting. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Truths as we enter the New Year

Psalm 90 – A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God.

1 O Lord, You have been our dwelling-place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God. 3 You turn man to dust, and say, Return, O sons of men. 4 For a thousand years in Your eyes are as yesterday when it passes, and as a watch in the night. 5 You flooded them away; they are as a sleep; in the morning they are like grass growing; 6 in the morning it sprouts and shoots up; in the evening it withers and dries up.

7 For we are consumed by Your anger, and we are troubled by Your wrath. 8 You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your face. 9 For all our days pass away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a murmur. 10 The days of our years are seventy; and if any by strength live eighty years, yet their pride is labor and vanity; for it soon passes, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of Your anger? And as Your fear is, so is Your fury.

12 So teach us to number our days, so that we may bring a heart of wisdom. 13 Return, O Jehovah! Until when? And give pity to Your servants. 14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your mercy, and we will be glad and rejoice all our days. 15 Make us glad according to the days of our affliction, the years in which we have seen evil. 16 Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your majesty to their sons. 17 And let the delight of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish the works of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands, establish it!

As we come to the close of one year and the beginning of the next, it is important to remember that the LORD is our dwelling place – our lives are completely dependent upon Him! He formed us in our mother’s womb and gave us life and breath, and all our days were determined by Him (Psalm 139:13-16). He holds our every breath in His hands (Daniel 5:23).

As Moses wrote in the psalm, our days in this world, because of the LORD’s wrath upon our sins, pass quickly and we fly away; but the LORD is God “from everlasting to everlasting.” The LORD (Jehovah) was God before the mountains were created and even before He brought forth the earth and the world. He has always been God and always will be (cf. John 1:1ff.)!

How important, considering the brevity of our earthly lives (because of our sinfulness), that we turn to the LORD God now for His compassion and mercy! How important it is that we number our days, knowing that our time here will pass quickly, and that we apply our hearts unto wisdom and study the Scriptures, which “make [us] wise to salvation through belief in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)!

Let us consider these things now before it is too late and we stand before the eternal God in judgment! Knowing the LORD and His abundant mercy through the study of His Word, we can rejoice and be glad in Christ Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior, all our days.

The LORD is our dwelling place, and He continues to be in the New Year! He has given us life and breath in this world and offers us life everlasting with Him through the gift of His Son, Messiah Jesus, and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross in our stead. Don’t let your time pass away without acknowledging Him and trusting in His mercy for Jesus’ sake!

O everlasting God, our Maker and our Redeemer, have mercy on us and cleanse us from the guilt of our sins for Jesus’ sake and grant that we may rejoice in Your mercy both now and forevermore. Amen.

[Scripture taken from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV), Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved.]