Reading: Micah 5; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Bethlehem is the city of David. There is where it all started. When God called David, that was a new start, after all the judges and of king Saul. However, after David, it went wrong again. More and more, the kings got involved in political games and went for their own wealth instead of protecting the people God entrusted to them. That led to the rejection of the rulers in Jerusalem, because of their unfaithfulness. But then, God comes also with the promise: Remember Bethlehem! Bethlehem, the city of David! God does not forget His promise to David! David will have a Descendant, Whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days, from days of eternity. And He will rule over Israel. Even more: not only over Israel but to the ends of the earth as we can read in verse 4.
The Jews in the days of the Lord Jesus knew exactly what went wrong with Israel in the Old Testament and why they went into exile. And the leaders of the people made a whole lot of rules and regulations, to protect themselves from going wrong again. But exactly they were the ones who did not understand the prophecy of Micah when God sent the Wise Men from the East to Jerusalem. It was not without reason that God led them over Jerusalem. It was Jerusalem, where it all happened in those days. Jerusalem, the capital of Judah. Although it was conquered by the Romans, still Jerusalem was an important city. Especially because of the great and beautiful temple, and it was the spiritual heart of Israel. There the leaders of the people lived and worked.
They were the people asked by Herod to find out where the Messiah would be born. They were the ones that had to read the prophecy of Micah, about the rejection of Jerusalem, and that God chose Bethlehem, as the place where the Saviour was to be born.
Again, the leaders in Jerusalem did not understand the will of God. They were blind. They did not ask the question: why Bethlehem? Bethlehem, also in those days in human eyes unimportant. Jerusalem, that is where it all happened for the Jews. But it was not Jerusalem that was chosen by God. It was Bethlehem. There it was where the Wise Men went. That should have been a sign to the rulers in Jerusalem: Pharisees and teachers of the law, the Sadducees. The election of Bethlehem means the rejection of Jerusalem, as in the days of Micah.
It has to start all over again, back to where it began. From Bethlehem to Jerusalem. As in the days of David, Jerusalem has to be conquered again. Now spiritually. The LORD Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He went to Jerusalem and conquered Jerusalem and the whole earth by His death in Jerusalem. After His resurrection and Ascension, we look forward to the coming of the New Jerusalem. When the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, then the work of the Saviour will be completely fulfilled. From Bethlehem to the New Jerusalem.
God uses that what is not important in the world, to work His salvation. Bethlehem, though you are little among the thousands of Judah. That is also what we see in the life of our Lord Jesus. As it is already prophesied in Isaiah, especially in Isaiah 53. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
It is the work of Satan, to make important in this world what is unimportant. And to make unimportant and despised, that what is important. It is the work of Satan, who makes human strength and power, riches and high positions important in the eyes of mankind, and who makes the will of God as something that is despised and rejected by many. But we should not be fooled by him. To say it with Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1 : 25: Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. And then in verse 26: ‘For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,’
In human eyes, the church may have little strength. In human eyes, the church may be something that operates at the fringes of society, but for God, that is where it all happens. That is where God has His Word preached, that is where He gives salvation, that is where He builds His Kingdom and gathers His people. That is where His divine power works that wonderful work of renewal.
And then we can read what the Lord Jesus Himself says to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3: 8: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Only little strength. Yet, God gives an open door that no one can shut!
That is a beautiful promise!
Key Text: 1 Corinthians 1:25: Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Meditation: Christianity is portrayed as foolishness by many in our society. Others see it as a stumbling block and do what they can to fight it. But God decided to use the things that are foolish in this world to put to shame the wise. Consider how God worked in this way in the history of the church, and consider whether He can still do it today!