Little Town of Bethlehem: A Christmas Story Prequel – Micah 5

“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2, CSB).

Micah 5 describes a set of events that present a tragic yet hopeful prequel to the Christmas story.

Therefore, Israel will be abandoned until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of the ruler’s brothers will return
to the people of Israel.
He will stand and shepherd them
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majestic name of the Lord his God.
They will live securely,
for then his greatness will extend
to the ends of the earth
(vs. 3-4).

The prophet Micah identified himself by his hometown, called Moresheth Gath, located near the border of Philistia and Judah about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. Micah prophesied during the time surrounding the tragic fall of Israel to the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC, an event he predicted in Chapter 1.

The book of Micah provides one of the most unambiguous prophecies of Christ’s birth in all the Old Testament. Some seven hundred years before Christ’s birth Micah reveals that Bethlehem is the birthplace of Messiah!

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An Effective, Fervent Christmas Prayer – James 5:16

fervent_group_prayer-sm“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16, KJV).

Recently I was asked to give the invocation at a public gathering for a Christmas event. I had time to reflect on what I might say for this Christmas prayer. As I considered the words and thoughts most commonly expressed in public prayers, I began to realize that our public prayers are often uttered so as to offend no one in the gathering.

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Small Beginnings, Enormous Endings – Zechariah 4:10

baby_jesus“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).

When the first wave of Jewish exiles returned to Judea, they were enthusiastic about rebuilding the Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians nearly fifty years earlier. But when their efforts to start rebuilding the Temple were opposed and resisted by neighboring nations and internally by the current inhabitants of the land, the repatriated Jews became discouraged and the Temple continued to lie in ruins for almost twenty more years.

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