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December 10, 2014

Advent Adventure, Part 2

 “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.” Micah 5:2 (NKJV)

It’s really astounding to conceive that over 350 direct prophecies were predicted and recorded in the Bible hundreds of years before that historic night in Bethlehem of Jesus’ birth. Ten of those prophecies even foretold Jesus’ birth!  Some of these prophecy that He would be born in Bethlehem, that He would be born of a virgin, that He would be of the tribe of Judah through the family line of David, that He would be called Immanuel, and that His birth would be accompanied with great sorrow and suffering as many of Israel’s sons would be slain. The simple conclusion, even among skeptics, is that none of these could have been fabricated; they either did or didn’t happen.  Both prophets, Micah and Isaiah, were contemporaries, writing during the last half of the eighth century B.C. during the reigns of Jotham (750-735), Ahaz (735-715), and Hezekiah (715-686).  Almost 800 years before Christ, these prophets gave specific predictions regarding the birth of the Christ Child, the Messiah who was to come.  Isaiah spoke more of the coming Messiah than any other Old Testament prophet did.  He is the one who predicted that Jesus would be born of a virgin, and Micah names the birthplace!  In Micah 5:2, he predicted, “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 of Israel, whose going forth are from of old, from everlasting.”  When you compare this prediction to the Christmas story recorded in Matthew and Luke, you will find that Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem could not have been manipulated by Mary and Joseph.  In fact, they were both from Nazareth and only went to Bethlehem because of the order of Caesar Augustus.  Look at Luke’s account:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. 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. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)

The implications of this are outstanding!  God is in control no matter what government is ruling!  God will accomplish His purpose no matter what the circumstances or impossibilities!  God can direct our lives to the ends He desires through the means He chooses!  All we have to do is rest in Him and trust Him obediently!  One pastor put it like this, “The God who wrote the Scriptures rules over history.  When He makes a promise, He is faithful to His Word!” What an amazing God!