￼How could a man control the place of His birth and the manner of his death? Before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, His arrival at this small town was predicted about 700 years before. This place of the Messiah’s birth is one of the preeminent prophecies of the Messiah that clearly identifies Jesus as the only person who could rightly be given this title.
As we examine this prophecy of Micah, we see that the subject is: “The One to be Ruler in Israel (Messiah), who comes out of eternity. The prophecy describes the Messiah’s origin as: “From Everlasting,” this term in Hebrew means: “from vanishing point to vanishing point. It is often used to describe a duration of eternity.
The Messiah shall be born in Bethlehem.
Micah 5:2a “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.”
New Testament Fulfillment:
Matthew 2:1-2 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, 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.”
Control Over All Events
Consider the difficulty of this prophecy. In order to place Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem so that Jesus could fulfill Micah’s prophecy, God ordained a worldwide census by the Roman government. Joseph is required to go back to the place of his ancestors’ birth to register for this census. While in Bethlehem, Jesus would be born, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 5:2:
“…Yet out of you Bethlehem shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel…”
Luke records this event in chapter 2 of his gospel:
Luke 2:1-5 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 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, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
So that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, all the citizens of the Roman empire were required to obey God’s will. The Lord moved Caesar Augustus to order the census, showing His great power over all kings and governments. Throughout the Bible, we see many examples where the Lord is described as able to move people where He wants them to go and place into their hearts a desire to do His will.
Daniel 2:20-21 …Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings…
Daniel 4:32 …the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.
Daniel 4:34-35 …For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Revelation 17:17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose…
Our God is able to move the entire world to accomplish His word.
Knowing this, is it really that difficult for the Lord to care for us everyday of our lives and provide the things that we need? Since our God can control the movement of people all over the world and bring a poor family with very little resources to the exact place that they need to be in order to fulfill His prophetic word, is He not also able to care for us?
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…
Imagine the difficulty required to accomplish this requirement:
Millions of people will have to disrupt their lives and leave their current home to travel to the place where their ancestors were born. What great trouble and expense millions of people would have to endure simply because the God of Israel is going to fulfill His word!
It seems that one of the purposes for this event is to display before us, how great the Lord’s power is.
Joseph is descended from King David. Although Jesus is the stepson of Joseph, He will receive His legal right to be the King of the Jews as a descendant of David, from His stepfather Joseph. When Joseph learns that he must register for the census, he understands that this will require Mary, who is nearly nine months pregnant, to travel the 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem over rough terrain, on the back of a donkey, just to complete this registration.
Why would God require Joseph and Mary to experience such a difficult and dangerous task? Since they will be the parents of the Messiah, should not God make the circumstances of Mary and Joseph’s life be a little easier?
You see, this is where we often misunderstand the will and purposes of God for our lives. He is more interested in developing our character than He is in providing us with more comfort. It is by the suffering that Jesus had to endure, that He learned to be obedient to the Father.
Hebrews 5:8-9 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…
Though Jesus is the Son of God, He had to learn to be obedient. It was by Jesus’ suffering that He was conformed into the will of God to complete our salvation. How much more shall we—also need to learn obedience to the will of the Lord—by the things that we must also suffer in our life?
Acts 14:22 … “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
God allowed the journey of Joseph, Mary, and the unborn Messiah to be extremely difficult—so that by their suffering, they would all be prepared to accomplish what the Lord would later require. The world needed a Savior who could understand poverty, difficulties, hardship, and suffering. Jesus was being prepared to be a Savior who understands us, even before He was born.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Concerning the birth of Jesus as the Messiah in Bethlehem:
The Messiah will come to earth as “a child.”
Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.
New Testament Fulfillment:
Luke 1:30-32 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 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.”
Jesus did not begin His life at Bethlehem; He existed before time:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…
Hebrews 1:5-8 For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.”
The Great Enigma
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.
One of the mysteries of salvation is that God would humble Himself and come to earth as a tiny baby. Why did God not send the Messiah to us as a fully formed and mature human being? We see manifestations of Jesus in the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord, in the form of a man. Why send the Son of God to earth and necessitate that He must be born as a helpless baby?
Place yourself now—in Nazareth. You are standing beside the road, across the way from where Mary and Joseph live. A toddler is wobbling back and forth in the first days of learning to walk. He stumbles and falls to the ground. His mother runs to his aid and picks him up, dusting off the dirt from where he has fallen. Suddenly you realize, this is the Son of God, the One who made all things that exists. He has not always been a human being. He has not always been a tiny boy. He was and is the King of the Universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
Jesus walked the halls of heaven, but now He must learn to walk as a child. He has spoken the universe into existence, but now He must learn to talk for the first time as a human being.
It was the plan of God to require the Savior of the world to become one of us—fully, in all things. He would have to experience everything that all men will encounter during their lives. From normal birth, infancy, through the teen years and adulthood, our Savior would feel every emotion that we feel. Jesus endured pain, sorrow, betrayal, abandonment, fear, and stress. He understands what it is like to live as a human being in this world. This is why He is able, not only able to die in our place, but also to perfectly sympathize with all of the struggles and difficulties that we experience living in a fallen world.
Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The Savior is also called Immanuel—God with us—for good reason. Not only that God is for us, He cares for us, but also that He would come to live amongst us, so that we could understand that He knows what it is like to be one of us.
Because our Messiah came as a child, we can have great confidence that He truly understands what it is like for us to grow from an infant—into an adult. He was not lacking information regarding how we feel as a human being—for God knows all things. More importantly, because He was willing to take the body of a human being and live with us, He knows what it is like to be one of us.
Psalms 139:1-4 O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
In verse 2, the original Hebrew language that David wrote this text from reveals that God “understands my thoughts afar off.” David did not mean that God is far off from us in heaven and yet He understands our thoughts. It is the intent of the Hebrew language in this verse that David is stating God’s comprehension of our thoughts before they form. He observes the synapses firing in our brain, connecting ideas, and feelings together. The Lord knows our thoughts far off, before we are going to think, what we are going to think. This is how intimately God knows us.
The purpose of the Messiah coming to us as a child was not so that God could comprehend what it is like to be human. Jesus came to us as a child and learned to walk, talk, and be human, so that we could have confidence in His ability to relate to us as another human being.
The Savior’s knowledge of your life is not simply understood by the fact that He knows all about you because He made you. He also knows what it is like to be you, living in this world full of so many heartaches, disappointments, and failures. He understands betrayal, abandonment, loneliness, suffering, and despair. He has experienced all of the emotions you have felt, and He can relate to you as no other person can. We can thank and praise the Father who in His wisdom, sent us His Son and allowed Him to begin life as a child.
Paul wrote in Hebrews 4:14-16 that for this reason, we can have confidence that He understands us. Therefore, we can come to Him at any time without fear or apprehension. We can come boldly to His throne of Grace; and there, we will always find mercy and grace to help in (our) time of need.
God sent us a Savior to begin life as a child and to grow into adulthood and finally lay down His life in such great sacrifice, that all our sins could be eternally detached from us.
When we examine carefully the circumstances of Jesus birth, in regards to the fulfillment of this 321st prophecy of Micah 5:2, we see truly amazing circumstances.
Luke reminds us that there were a certain number of days that had to be completed before the Messiah could come to us. Micah prophesied in describing the Savior’s birth, nearly 750 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:6-11 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
When we examine these hundreds of prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, we see that God was following a predetermined plan that He had formulated before time existed. The Book of Galatians reminds us that the time when Jesus came to earth was a moment specifically planned by God in which He would reveal His Son to the world.
Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son…
Our God works in the realm of eternity, to effect the lives of people who dwell within time—so that we might all someday—dwell with Him in eternity, forever.
As Jesus is born in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy, He does not come into the world as we would expect the King of the universe to make His entrance.
Luke 2:7 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.
Imagine the Creator of all things, as He is born to one of the poorest families on the earth. He brings no army with Him. He comes not in regal splendor and spectacle. His arrival is unpretentious and with great humility. It is interesting that Jesus is wrapped in the very same strips of cloth at His birth that He will also be wrapped with at His death. These are the garments of the poor, used to secure an infant, in the traditional binding that is said to bring comfort to a newborn.
Luke 2:8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…
The announcement made by angels—given to the world, declared that God—who made the heavens and the earth, came not to kings or world leaders. He arrived before a few shepherds tending their flocks on a lonely insignificant hillside. It was a common belief at this time that shepherds were among the most insignificant and despised people who occupied the earth. These humble men spent countless days and nights unnoticed, as they lovingly cared for one of the dumbest and most helpless animals on the earth. It is no surprise that the Bible often speaks of the shepherd as a loving example of the care and dedication that the Messiah will have over His people—the sheep.
The birth of Jesus is announced by an angel of the Lord. His first words to the stunned shepherds are: “Do not be afraid, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people…” As the multitude of all Old Testament prophecies describe, the Messiah came for every person. God chose one specific day—a moment in time set aside by the Lord to announce that our bondage to sin and death are at an end. “For there is born to every person a Savior, who is Jesus the Christ the Lord.”