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December 23 – Prophets promise Christ’s coming (2): A backwater birthplace

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 5:2

Scripture reading: Micah 5:2  

The Israelites had returned from exile, rebuilt the city of Jerusalem, and re-instituted the temple. But the nation of Israel never returned to her former state of strength and glory. Not even close. Although the people of God were again living in their homeland, they never again enjoyed full independence as a nation. The Israelites were mere tenants who rented the land by paying tributary taxes to a succession of Persian, Greek and finally Roman rulers. As for the reconstructed temple, it was nowhere near its former size and splendor. And by Jesus’ day, the throne in Jerusalem was occupied not by a righteous descendant of David, but by the ruthless, wicked Herod the Great. He stole his brother’s wife. And to protect his position and power, he murdered not only the baby boys in Bethlehem, but many of his family members.

With the palace occupied by a succession of corrupt, non-Davidic kings, how would the promised Ruler of David’s line be born and come to reign? Micah’s prophecy gives God’s people a clue.

Don’t look to Jerusalem and its thoroughly corrupt corridors of power. Look to the backwater town of Bethlehem. This humble town would be the birthplace of Jesus, the Saviour. His lineage goes back not only to King David, who was born in this same town of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:12). This Ruler’s lineage goes even further back into eternity past, He is not only the son of David, but the eternal Son of God.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God that though Jerusalem was occupied by evil rulers appointed by Rome, God’s ancient promise still stood. Thank Jesus for being a King Who gives His life so we might gain ours.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God DevotionalRev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015.

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