|The Little One|
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
The Story: The first verse of Micah 5 predicts the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army and the defeat of Zedekiah, last king of Judah (2 Kings 25:1-7). This verse, in marked contrast, looks down the road to Bethlehem, King David’s hometown (1 Samuel 16:1). Bethlehem, about five-and-a-half miles from the capital, made no geopolitical difference during Micah’s day or at the time of Jesus’ birth. Important people typically forget their ancestors’ humble, rural roots. Yet, prophesied Micah, Bethlehem would once again be the birthplace of a king. This king would come directly from God and, like God, His beginnings are “from of old, from ancient days,” that is, from eternity. When Jesus made the unlikely claim that He had seen Abraham, His hearers reacted in shock. When He clarified Himself, saying “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am,” they picked up stone to hurl at Him (John 8:56-59). Yet He, the One born in little Bethlehem, fulfilled this promise fully and finally.
The Structure: God has a long history of choosing the “wrong people.” Moses told the people of Israel that the Lord chose them “for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples” (Deuteronomy 7:6-7). They were, in fact, “a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 32:9), whom God nonetheless loved. King David’s father needed prompting even to remember his seventh son (1 Samuel 16:11). Then there were Jesus’ apostles. What a motley collection of men from in and around the nowhere known as Nazareth. It’s God’s pattern to choose the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). He chose Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and too little, too insignificant Bethlehem to begin His greatest work. And He chooses you.
How do God’s surprising choices give you hope for your life and for our troubled world?