Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Stopping in Bethlehem

Have you ever stopped to think about the significance of Bethlehem?

At the beginning of time, when God was planning all things, did He select Bethlehem as the place where Jesus would be born, and then arranged the Old Testament to match up? Or did he just so happen (wording from the book of Ruth) to choose people from Bethlehem to become Christ’s earthly ancestors?

It doesn’t really matter. . . what does make all the difference is that all-knowing God did not leave a single minute detail unconnected. From the very first breath of creation, until the Second Adam returns in glory, God’s story is ever moving towards the reconciling of all things to Himself (Colossians 1:20).

On Moody radio last week, I heard a pastor say, “Jesus was not born from the line of David; He was born into the line David.” It was not a birth-right that Bethlehem was home-base. It was chosen; selected; picked. For hundreds upon hundreds of reasons. When Christ inserted Himself into human history, into a historical lineage (of expectation), into the womb of His mother Mary, into the arms of His father Joseph—He was exercising His will and humbling Himself before the Father’s master plan.

Bethlehem wasn’t just a nice place to stop because Mary was about bursting with child. It was the stopping place because God made it so. He made it a stopping place for Rachel to be buried. For Ruth and Naomi to rebuild their lives. For Samuel to find the would-be-king shepherd boy David. And He makes it a stopping point for us, this Advent.

May we pause and consider the lineage of Jesus. The course of human history that brought Mary and Joseph to that place. The way God miraculously made bent roads straight, valleys rise up, and mountains kneel low.

2 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.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.

- Micah 5:2-5

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