16th December 2011

House Of Bread

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Micah 5:2 (NIV UK)

Have you ever been to Bethlehem? I have, and I did not like it.

The birthplace of Christ has been turned into a commercial enterprise, and it is a centre for all manner of superstitions. It’s a far cry from how it was in New Testament times.

Bethlehem was where King David’s family came from (I Samuel 16:1), and it is the setting for the book of Ruth. It was under Philistine occupation when David refused to drink the water that his mighty men fetched for him from its well (2 Samuel 23:14-16). It is also one of the towns that Rehoboam fortified in his defence against the uprising of Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 11:5). Other than those few references Bethlehem is not mentioned much in the Old Testament.

Yet God revealed to Micah that Bethlehem was where the Messiah would be born.  Paul tells us that we should not treat such “prophecies with contempt” (1 Thessalonians 5:20). The ruler, the child on whose shoulders would rest the government of God (Isaiah 9:6), would come from this seemingly insignificant town.

Perhaps there is something we can learn from the God’s choice of Bethlehem. God took something small and made something wonderful come from it. Is your congregation just a small group that no one notices? God can still use it to proclaim his kingdom. Our church, our denomination, is little but God can use it as a platform to announce his grace, “good news of great joy that will be for all people” (Luke 2:10).

In Hebrew Bethlehem can mean “house of bread”. Our fellowship, our congregations, our families, our groups wherever they are, are like houses of bread. From us goes out the gospel of Jesus, who is the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

Prayer
Thank you for the prophecy about Bethlehem, and that we can take inspiration from it: that, no matter how small we may be, you can use us to proclaim Jesus, the Saviour.
Amen

Study by James Henderson

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