“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.]