Bethlehem

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

(The Advent: Faces within the Christmas Story.)

Luke 2:4-5 (NIV)
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

Luke 2:4-5 (MSG)
So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
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“So Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and was with child.” -AMPLIFIED

The face that we will consider next is actually the faces of many; the faces of the people of Bethlehem. Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “house of bread”, was the birthplace of King David. Located approximately five miles away from Jerusalem, it was a humble town. Bethlehem was actually just an unwalled, unassuming village; not much to write home about.

Located along a trading route; Bethlehem was a melting pot of people and cultures. It was an ancient town with roots going back to the Canaanites and the patriarchs. In fact, we find in 1 Chronicles that one of Caleb’s sons, Salam, was listed as the founder of Bethlehem. “These were the generations of Caleb through Hur (the firstborn of Caleb’s second wife Ephrathah) were Shobal (the father of Kiriath-jearim),  Salma (the father of Bethlehem), and Hareph (the father of Beth-gader).” -1 Chronicles 2:50-51 (VOICE)

More than 600 years before the birth of the Christ child we find Micah prophesicying that the Redeemer would come from this small, insignificant town. Micah foretold, “But you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, of the clans of Judah, are no poor relation—From your people will come a Ruler who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel, whose origins date back to the distant past, to the ancient days.” -Micah 5:2 (VOICE)

It is believed that the population, during normal circumstances, was quite small. Because of the census though, we find that this little town was now overflowing and even bursting at the seams as various people converged upon it to be registered and taxed.

We are told in Luke 2 about the shepherds out on the hill taking care of their sheep. We would also do well to remember that David was a shepherd from Bethlehem. Shepherding would have been one of the main occupations of the people; for they were close enough to Jerusalem to provide lambs for the sacrifices at the temple.

Let us realize the fact that this little village was not prepared or equipped to handle the huge influx of people that were descending upon them. Now guaranteed all the incoming folks were coming back because their families were rooted in the town; so they would have kinfolk to lodge with. But even Luke tells us that there was not enough room for all the people that were pouring in.

This little, quiet, unassuming village was about to have a life-changing experience. The Savior of the World had chosen this small town to be the place of His birth. On this particular night, when Jesus was born, this town would experience a life-changing experience. Luke tells us this: “…they (the shepherds) spread the story of what they had experienced and what had been said to them about this child.  Everyone who heard their story couldn’t stop thinking about its meaning.” Luke 2:17-18 (VOICE)

“God chooses something small, quiet, out of the way, and does something there that changes the course of history and eternity.” -John Piper

My Prayer:

Lord, as I read the story of the birth of Jesus it reminds me to never overlook the small things in my life. You use those small things to do BIG things for you. Help me to remember that all you need is a willing spirit; not a degree, not a lot of money, not even a title. You use those who are open and obedient. Help me to be just that Lord.

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