Micah 2, “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”

Intro: Our lesson today continues in the book of Micah, as we study our through the Minor Prophets. I want to look at some of the more prominent passages in the book.

  • The most familiar characteristic of a prophet is his ability to forecast the future. Although the word itself does not mean one who tells the future, the true prophet cannot claim to be one without this ability. After Moses relates the familiar Messianic prediction that God would raise up a prophet like Moses, he gives the people some important guidelines on true prophets: Deut 18:20-22 – But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ — 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
  • Fulfilled prophecy increases and validates our faith in the power of God. God makes things happen the way He wants them to happen and He will not be defeated in anything. He will do everything He has said He will do, exactly as He spoke it. Job 9:12 – 12 If He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’

I. Micah’s Phenomenal Prediction: Here’s a challenge for you today: In the election of 2214, where will the President elected be born? The odds are astronomical that you could get this right. But that is only 200 years from now. Micah lived 700 years before Christ was born, yet he precisely predicted the place of His birth. Micah 5:2 – 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” The authenticity of the Bible is verified by the numerous fulfilled prophecies contained in its pages. None are more impressive than Micah’s prediction in this passage.

Why is this prophecy about Jesus’ birth so remarkable?

A. As we studied last week, Micah lived and prophesied during the 8th century BC. during the same period as Isaiah, Amos and Joel. He predicted the fall of Israel to the Assyrians, the fall of Judah to the Babylonians (3:12) and their return from captivity. He looked far into the future and saw the coming Jewish Messiah who would bring salvation to Israel. All of these prophecies are convincing evidences of the inspiration of Micah’s words. But notice 5:2

B. Bethlehem is mentioned on a few occasions in the OT. The name means “bread house”.

Bethlehem first appears in the Scriptures, nearly 2000 years before Jesus, as the burial place of Rachel (Gen. 35:19, 48).

It is mentioned as one of the towns captured by Joshua (Josh. 19:15).

The judge Ibzan was from here and was buried here (Judg. 12:8, 10).

The story of Ruth and Boaz occurs in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:1).

It was the home of Jesse the father of David and it was there David was anointed king (1 Sam. 16:4; 2 Sam. 23:15). It was from the well of Bethlehem that David longed for water when his mighty men broke through the lines of the Philistines to get it for him. It became known as “the city of David.”

C. And Luke records the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem without even noting the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. Have you considered from the human standpoint how truly astounding the odds are that Joseph and Mary would fulfill this single prophecy?

1. Joseph and Mary – We know that both of them were from the Galilean city of Nazareth. Luke 1:26-27 – Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. Luke goes on to tell us that an angel of the Lord, Gabriel, appeared to Mary – Luke 1:31-35 – And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (we may take a closer look at this remarkable prediction tonight).

2. Even if one knew about Mary giving birth to Jesus, who could have predicted that she would have her child in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was located in Judah; Nazareth in Galilee. These cities were approx. 70 miles apart, a significant distance in the ancient world. (MAP) Ordinarily women have their children in their hometown. Certainly Mary would have planned it that way. But God had already spoken on it. How did God make it happen just as He had spoken? Several things would have to happen just right:

a. How did God get Mary (and Joseph) to Bethlehem? Luke 2:1-2 -1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. Scholars tell us that this census order was issued by Augustus around 9-8 BC. He had no idea he was participating in the fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophecy. Archaeological evidence from the period suggests that registration for tax purposes and censuses were taken every 14 years in the empire. Jesus’ birth is timed just right.

b. The census order required the travel of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city. (Luke 2:3) It is interesting to note that most census’ did not require people to move. The counters came to the people. But this census required that people return to their ancestral family’s origin (his own city) An Egyptian papyrus from the Roman period contained these words about a census.. has been found with instructions to a ruler concerning the requirements of the census: “Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their homes should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment and that the tilled lands may retain those belonging to them”.

c. Yet this does not guarantee the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. It would provide occasion for the movement of some people, but what about Joseph? In order for the prophecy to be fulfilled the father Joseph had to be of the family of David since only the male descendants of David would return to Bethlehem, the city of David. Luke 2:4-5 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. But even this does not guarantee the fulfillment of the prophecy.

d. Joseph and Mary must go to Bethlehem at the time that Mary’s pregnancy was coming to full term and stay long enough to give birth to the child. The census did not require that they relocate to Bethlehem, and there is no indication that they intended to stay. They sought lodging in an inn. But their travel plans corresponded perfectly with her due date… So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. . (Luke 2:6-7) What remarkable timing.

e. The few lines devoted to the telling of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem do not describe the rigorous nature of the trip. It was 70 miles of mostly uphill travel. Mary is close to giving birth. It would have taken them about a one week each way. Did they understand their part in the fulfillment of Micah’s words? Although they had been told the identity of Mary’s unborn child, it is unlikely that they understood the magnitude of what was happening and why. But we do.

f. Later the wise men followed the star to Jerusalem and inquired where the king was to be born. Herod did not know (Herod didn’t care much about spiritual things) but some of his advisors knew Matthew 2:1-82 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'” 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” Herod’s intentions were wicked, and he subsequently slaughtered all the young children in Bethlehem in an attempt to destroy Jesus. But God was in control, and He preserved His Son alive.

II. Some observations:

A. God utilizes weak things to make strong affirmations. What is there about the birth of Jesus that might have been predicted?

If men were fabricating the story or predicting how God would bring His Son into the world would they have chosen these circumstances? The obscure town of Bethlehem, born in a stable, in a feeding trough, to unknown and somewhat outcast parents? There is nothing about this story that bears the marks of human invention.

according to Paul 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, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 1 Cor 1:27-29

B. God confirms His Words through His Sovereignty over Human Events. It was Augustine who said, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed.” – Peter said, “…And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.2 Peter 1:19-21

Micah’s prophecy concerning Bethlehem confirms the source of his words and gives us confidence in what God has revealed in the pages of our Bible. Romans 15:4 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

The selection of a small, rather obscure village; the selection of Joseph and Mary even though they live far to the north; God puts all these unlikely events together at just the right time, to serve His purposes. This event tells me God is capable of doing what He intends to do. He keeps His promises.

It gives patience and endurance because it shows me that just because I cannot always observe God’s workings and providence does not mean He’s not there. He is at work.

He has our best interests at heart, and therefore my hope in Christ is reasonable (Colossians 1:2727 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Conclusion: Look again at our verse in Micah 5 – Micah 5:2 – …Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

  • The One who would come out of Bethlehem would be Ruler in Israel – He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords.. At the right hand of God above all authority.
  • His goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. This One who was born in a stalbe in the tiny town of Bethlehem was God. Micah was not only right about the WHERE. He was also right about the WHO. Have you confessed Him before men? Have you obeyed His words..

Mark 16:16 – 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. NKJV