023 | Ruler from Bethlehem



The Savior would come from the little town of Bethlehem (v.2). At the time of Jesus' birth, this was the commonly held understanding (Matthew 2:3-6). It was such an unlikely place, and yet God orchestrated an incredible chain of events - a census of the Roman empire, a late-night trip by a pregnant woman and her fiance, and a birth in a stable - to make it happen (Luke 2:1-7). Jesus fulfilled this very specific prophecy made centuries before his birth."

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this about verse 2 in Chapter 5 of the Old Testament book Micah in his book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story.

"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)
Here we read in the Old Testament that the Messiah will come from a small town named Bethlehem. This was written about 700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It is one of many facts about the Messiah given to God's people before Christ came. Here is a partial list of other facts about the Messiah previewed in the Old Testament:
  • Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
  • Honored by great kings (Psalms 72:10, 15, Isaiah 60:3)
  • Worshiped by shepherds (Psalms 72:9)
  • The Son of God (Psalms 2:7)
  • A healer (Isaiah 29:18, Isaiah 35:5-6)
  • Rejected, even by his own people (Isaiah 53:3, Isaiah 8:14, Isaiah 28:16, Psalms 118:22)
  • Enter Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)
  • Silent before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7)
  • Pierced through hands and feet (Psalms 22:16)
  • No bones broken (Psalms 34:20)
  • Resurrected from the dead (Psalms 16:10, Psalms 30:3, Psalms 118:17)
  • Ascension to God's right hand (Psalms 68:18, Psalms 110:1)
During the time of Jesus many of these facts in scripture about the Messiah were common knowledge among the leaders and people of Israel. It was well known as we read in the gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:1-8) that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. Even with the vivid description of the coming Messiah King laid out in the scriptures most struggled and ultimately missed how different the Kingdom he would rule would be compared to the earthly kingdoms all around them. Most of them were looking for a Messiah who would come as a powerful king blowing away all of their enemies and freeing them from serving the current political kingdom of Rome. They viewed God's Kingdom as a political and national kingdom ruled by a Messiah King who would make Israel great again. A political kingdom of power, security, and peace for all of God's people here on earth under the earthly leadership of the Son of God, the Messiah, the King.

As we see played out in the historical record of the gospels, written by four different people, even the closest friends and followers of Jesus struggled with how he described the Kingdom he was bringing to the world. In many ways the disciples, before Jesus was executed, resisted the uniqueness of the Kingdom Jesus was telling the world about. There is evidence that they knew Jesus was King, but they just didn't understand why the King, the ruler had to die. They just didn't understand HOW different this new Kingdom was.
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is in your midst." (Luke 17:20-21)

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36)
This new Kingdom would be just as unique and radical as they and everyone who came in contact with Jesus discovered him to be. A kingdom that was completely different, completely unique, and could not be seen in the same way as earthly kingdoms could be seen. This new Kingdom would have a different kind of power, different priorities, and a different purpose. It would not be ruled by riches and violence, but by love and grace. It would not begin with an army taking over a large population of people. It would begin with a humble King laying down his own life for all people everywhere. It would start with a few unimportant people who believe in this radically unique King. It would not grow by a large takeover or great force, but one person at a time freely accepting the King and his ways. It would be nothing like the kingdoms man established. It would be a vast kingdom without end, set apart from the kingdoms of this world, with a beginning in a smelly stable in a small unimportant town. It would begin as a baby.

The God who came to earth came not in a raging whirlwind, nor in a devouring fire. Unimaginably, the Maker of all things shrank, down, down, down, so small as to become an ovum, a single fertilized egg barely visible to the naked eye, an egg that would divide and re-divide until a fetus took shape, enlarging cell by cell inside a nervous teenager." (Philip Yancey in his book "The Jesus I Never Knew")

What a God! What a beginning! What a Kingdom! What a ruler! What a King!



| More on the Essential Jesus journey. |

Photo credit:  Photo titled "Tiny Flowers". Uploaded to flickr.com on June 9, 2008 by *cora*

6 comments:

  1. Quoted and linked your blog in this post:

    http://mindrec.org/letters/2008/09/23/charging/

    You may link back, or mention my blog on yours, if you want to.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kingdom of God is my favorite topic. It is the heart of the Gospel, the reason why man was placed on planet earth, the reason why Jesus had to come.

    In fact the Hebrew word for "dominion" is mamlacha and it simply means "kingdom". So when God asked Adam to have dominion, He meant to bring His kingdom on earth.

    So much of revelation in it

    Sidharth

    ReplyDelete
  3. hey brad, nice blog... I find it curious maybe even amazing how many christians still want an earthly kingdom from Jesus and want that to be our country and our political system when even that thought runs counter to everything Jesus is about

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know what you mean. From my perspective, by its very nature the Kingdom of God cannot be made into an earthly government for any one country since it is not territorial but voluntary and eternal. Popular values and morals of the Kingdom of God have and can influence government and politics in a democratic system. I am more concerned with government and the political system interfering with Christianity than Christians sincerely participating in politics and government.

    Thanks "anonymous" (aka Michael) for your compliment on the blog.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello...Your words and your photos are so inspirational and soothing.
    It is a serious contradiction how religion is suppose to stand for peace and Christianity...yet it seems to be a cause of so much destruction.
    People have used religion as an excuse to be greedy and selfish. It is similar to people using their children as pawns in a divorce. Silly analogy..but it seems to fit.
    Thank you for your continued inspiration!

    ~D~

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  6. There is a big difference between man made religion and the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately what most people see is the man made religion of Christianity rather than a sincere relationship with God through Christ. I like what Greg Laurie wrote:

    "I think religion is probably keeping more people from Christ than everything else put together, because it gives them a false sense of security. But they will be in for a big shock when they find out that religion will not satisfy the requirements of a holy God."The requirements have been satisfied in Christ. Religion is meaningless and useless without a relationship with Christ.

    Thank you Dorothy for your continued support and encouragement.

    ReplyDelete

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