Read - Micah 5:2-5a
Message - Alan Burke
We have all today heard of Bethlehem, we know roughly where it is, some of us have even gone there. If you fancy a wee road trip according to my maps app, it would take us about 56 hours to travel the 3,435 miles, although I’m not sure any of us could drive for 56 hours solid. Look to how Micah introduces Bethlehem, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah”. Why this way? Well in truth Bethlehem Ephrathah was a place of little to no significance, a place that could easily overlooked but it was this place that God had chosen to send the redeemer of his people. It goes totally against human wisdom, if it was us, we would expect the King of the world to come in a place of significance, if it were today in a city like New York, London, Dubai, Sydney, Washington DC, that’s why the wise men headed to Jerusalem when the followed the star (Matt 2:1-2. But then God’s ways are not like our ways, he choses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Cor 1:27). God was going to bypass Jerusalem the city which he chose and loved above all cities, and in his divine choosing it would be Bethlehem (Ps 46, 48, 76, 84, 87, 122).
In Bethlehem Ephrathah God would bring a new start, for a shoot would come from the stump of Jesse, a branch would grow out of his roots (Is 11:1). God was directing the hearers of this prophecy to the hope that there was in King David’s line (2 Sam 5:2, 7:8, 1 Sam 16). Though David’s house failed, God’s covenant to David would never fail (2 Sam 7, 1 Chro 17, Ps 89), and Bethlehem the birthplace of David would represent a new beginning for the people of God. As they heard these words in the midst of the news of the judgement that was coming they would have been filled with hope, for in spite of their faithlessness God would continue to be faithful to his people and his promises.
For the one who was to come and now has come is the Lord Jesus Christ. This ruler, the promised deliver of God’s people rules on behalf of the Lord and his interests, he is unlike any earthly king that there has ever been, before or since, for he has come to redeem a sinful people, as saviour of the world, to bring about the purposes of God, doing the will of the one who sent him. Today as we read these words and think of this hope, we know that the Lord has kept his word, fulfilled his promises and that this hope is real. For the Lord has sent his ruler Jesus Christ who has come to meet the deepest need of all people, the need of reconciliation, of sins forgiven. He rules not in Israel but over Israel, he came to rule over the entire earth forever (5:2).
Where ever you are know that in the midst living in this fallen broken world that we can know and have confident assurance in the promises of God. For the Lord has set his ruler, his King to rule over all. It means that right now what ever we face we have a sure and steadfast hope that when this life comes to an end, or when he returns that we will be glorified people, like Jesus, like our Saviour (1 Jn 3:2). In the midst of this life that is far from how we would want it or desire it to be, lets look not to this world and all that glitters and shines that will always disappoint but look to the Saviour who has come and is coming again.
Q 35 What is sanctification?
Sanctification is the work of God’ s free grace, (2 Thess. 2:13) whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, (Eph. 4:23–24) and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. (Rom. 6:4,6, Rom. 8:1)