O little town of Bethlehem!
I don’t know about you, but I love to hear the details of the Christmas story over and over!
In the Christmas story, everything has meaning.
God is the master of details!
Today I’ve been thinking about that little town of Bethlehem! Jesus was born in Bethlehem – why was Bethlehem special?
Bethlehem is the fulfillment of prophecy.
At the appointed time, God tapped Caesar Augustus on the shoulder so that he would call for the census. Joseph, being of the house and lineage of David, had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It was an inconvenient time since Mary was with child. It was a hard journey for a pregnant lady … some 80 miles. All of this was to fulfill the prophecy that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem!
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans[b] 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.”
Bethlehem is the City of David.
In Matthew we read the lineage of Jesus … the son of David, the son of Abraham. When the angel came to Mary, he said, “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31 – 33) David was born in Bethlehem! “Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah.” (1 Samuel 17:12)
As an aside, it is interesting to note that the name, Bethlehem, means “house of bread.”
Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
Bethlehem was home to the sacred temple flocks.
Lambs were specifically raised in this area for the sacrificial system – the first-born male lambs were considered sacred. It was John the Baptist who said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Each detail in the birth of the babe is significant!
O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting Light;
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in;
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel.