Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Where Micah foretold Messiah’s birthplace.
Figuring he oughta learn where Messiah was expected to come from, Herod turned to Jerusalem’s head priests and scribes.
Matthew 2.4-9 KWL
- 4 Gathering all the head priests and scribes of the people,
Herodwas asking them, “Where’s Messiah born?”
- 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem, Judea. This was written by the prophet:
- 6 ‘You, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are in no way the least of Judah’s rulers:
- A leader will come from you who will shepherd my people, Israel.’”
- 7 Then Herod, secretly summoning the Zoroastrians, grilled them
onthe time the star appeared.
- 8 Sending them to Bethlehem, he said, “Go search carefully for the child.
- Once you find him, send news to me so I might also go bow before him.”
- 9 On hearing the king, they went.
The scribes answered with a loose translation of
Bethlehem was a small settlement; small enough to get skipped in various Old Testament censuses. But it wasn’t unknown. Israel’s judge Ivchán (the one with the 60 kids) was from there,
The prophecies of Micah of Moreshét were largely about how the L
But in reading it, you’ll notice Micah wasn’t only talking about the L
In other words, Micah includes some prophecies about Messiah and the End Times.
Now when it comes to prophecies of the far future, stuff about Jesus’s first and second comings tended to get mixed together. God didn’t give the prophets any comprehensive timelines, y’know. (And no, he didn’t leave that for the “prophecy scholars” of the present day to figure out.) The predictions are in no particular order.
Generally the end-of-the-age stuff involves Israel driving off its enemies, getting its act together, the people of Israel coming home from exile, and peace and prosperity from then on. But the Messianic stuff has to do with the one who’s gonna lead them in the next age: Messiah, the king of kings who’s gonna rule not just Jerusalem but the world.
This is why Jesus’s first advent confused the people of his day. They expected him to overthrow the Romans and conquer the world. They had no clue there were gonna be two advents: The first to conquer sin, the second to conquer the world.
Bethlehem, Messiah’s birthplace.
One of Micah’s prophecies referred to a ruler who’d sort things out for God. The then-current kings (Yotám, Akház, and Hezekiah
Micah 5.1-4 KWL
- 1 You’re cutting yourself now, soldier’s daughter: Siege is upon us.
- They strike Israel’s judge on the jaw with a cane.
- 2 You! Bethléhem-Efratá! Smallest of Judah’s thousands! Israel’s ruler comes from you, for my sake.
- They bring him forth—he who’s from the beginning, from days beyond counting.
- 3 God gives him till the time she gives birth, gives birth.
- The rest of his sisters and brothers can return to Israel’s children.
- 4 He stands and shepherds with the L
ORD’s strength, with the excellence of his L ORDGod’s name.
- They abide, for now he is great enough to rule to the ends of the earth.
Yep, here’s where the scribes got Messiah’s birthplace from the Prophets: Micah said Israel’s great ruler would be born in Bethlehem-Efratá.
Some Jews skip this description as hyperbole. Okay, Messiah’s meant to be a great and mighty leader like we read about in legends and myths. Like King David. So some of ’em are pretty sure Micah meant David—that this isn’t a prophecy but a flashback, where Micah’s recalling the glory days of Israel when David kicked so much ass he wore out his sandals. After all, David was from Bethlehem, David shepherded his people with the L
Other Jews figure, same as the rabbis who wrote the Talmud, this is obviously about Messiah. But they don’t believe Jesus is Messiah, and don’t believe Messiah is pre-incarnate. They claim “from the beginning, from days beyond counting” has to do with God sovereignly planning Messiah from the beginning of time; not that Messiah himself comes from the beginning of time.
Certain interpreters take the “for my sake” to mean Micah’s quoting God: The ruler comes from Bethlehem for the L
I tend to interpret verse 3 to mean the time between the first and second comings: While the birthpangs are still going on,
Seven centuries later.
Christians tend to go gaga about these sorts of prophecies: “Look, God’s prophets knew Messiah’s birthplace 700 years before it happened!” As if God’s limited by distance in any way whatsoever.
Others find it impressive that God arranged the Roman census so that Mary would have to leave Nazareth, go to Bethlehem, and give birth to Jesus in the place Micah prophesied. Me, I don’t think God had anything to do with the Roman census. He just knew where Jesus would be born. If Jesus had been born in Nazareth, Micah’d have said Nazareth. (Tricky, considering Nazareth wouldn’t exist for another 600 years, but again: As if God’s limited.)
Wherever Jesus would be born, Micah’d have said. If in Jerusalem during the Feast of Booths, Micah’d have said Jerusalem. If in Shechem—’cause for some reason his parents got stuck there in mid-journey—Micah’d have said Shechem. And it would’ve horrified the Pharisees, ’cause Shechem was a Samaritan city. Maybe it’d’ve got the Pharisees to behave way nicer to Samaritans. But knowing human nature, more likely it’d’ve provoked them to conquer Shechem. Anyway, you see my point.
Seven centuries after Micah’s prophecy, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. And about two years after that, Herod went looking for him there, with horrifying results. Blame the scribes for that one. Bible scholars, man, I tell ya; when you don’t have the Spirit’s fruit, you’re gonna give pearls to pigs