“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.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be our peace[
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Micah, prophesying about the same time as Isaiah, has a message similar to Isaiah's, that there would be a time of turmoil, a time when people would seem to have been forsaken by their God, when Israel itself would be forgotten by much of the world, this once great nation would be come greatly not so great. For four hundred years there would be a prophetic silence, a lack of godly leadership, a time of captivity, a time of neglect, a time of getting by. But that was to be just the beginning of something big.
Bethlehem, a small town in Judah, neglected in many ways, would be come the birthplace of the Savior of the world. This Savior was going to shepherd his flock, in the strength and majesty of the Lord. Israel, God's people would, in this coming day, live securely BECAUSE in this shepherd, in this Savior, the greatness of God himself would reach to the ends of the earth. And He would be their peace, not just the source of their peace, their actual peace!
And then it happened. 700 years later. In that small town of Bethlehem, seemingly forgotten, of little account, in a stable - nothing more than a cattle stall - a birth took place that would forever change the world. Time itself bears witness to the event. And in the fields just outside of Jerusalem a star shone brightly, A messenger of God Almighty appeared and the very glory of God himself shined brightly. So much so that the shepherds were terrified. The glory of the Lord does that. It's powerful. It's illuminating. It's intimidating. But one not need be fearful, for the message was and still is, simple - Good News! Good News for everyone. A Savior was born. The Messiah. Not A messiah. THE Messiah. And he would be found as a baby wrapped in ragged cloths, lying in a feed trough. And a group of the very hosts of heaven surrounded these shepherds singing glory to God, praising Him and declaring peace to those on whom God's favor rests, His people, those whom he, by faith, has claimed to be his own.
A young maiden, a hard working man, an untimely and miraculous pregnancy, a long and perilous journey, and finally birth in a barn. Out of chaos, out of untimeliness on our end, but in God's perfect timing and i God's perfect way, the Savior of the world comes forth.
Irrespective of our circumstances, the Savior still comes at Christmas, seeking to be born anew in our hearts. He comes, unbidden, seeking a place to be born yet again, in a heart not perfect, one not yet clean, not even fit for such as this. But he does come ad he does seek to be born anew within us. Will you open your heart to him this Christmas, or will you turn him away because there is no room for such a presence in your life? Will you let him be born, yet again, in your life? Perhaps you have wandered, straying from his direction. Perhaps you have tried again and again, to live in your own strength and power. Israel did and for years they were abandoned. Abandoned but not forgotten. This year what package will you open. Just another bobble? Just another trinket? Just another symbol of worldliness? Or will you open your heart to the Savior, the One who still comes and knocks gently saying:
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." (Rev. 3:20)
He stands ready to rebuild our lives, to rebuild our communities, to rebuild that which has been abandoned and forsaken. The only question is whether or not we will invite him in...