Micah 5:2 –
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans 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.”
Stories about people who lived at the time of Jesus’ birth have always fascinated me. One of the reasons I loved Max Lucado’s book God Came Near is because it starts with wondering about what a Bethlehem innkeeper may have said or thought the morning after Jesus was born in the stable. It always surprises me that such a momentous event as the birth of the long-promise Messiah was just … missed – missed by so many people who were right there.
For some reason, as soon as I was approached about the Advent writings for this year, the town of Bethlehem and the above prophecy about it were the first thing that came to mind. Maybe it’s because I know the verse notes that Bethlehem was so small. Maybe it’s because I have been feeling “small” and hang onto the fact that God uses “small” to do His work.
Probably, it was because I needed to read John Piper’s comments about why Jesus was born in Bethlehem:
“God chose a stable so no innkeeper could boast, “He chose the comfort of my inn!” God chose a manger so that no wood worker could boast, “He chose the craftsmanship of my bed!” He chose Bethlehem so no one could boast, “The greatness of our city constrained the divine choice!” And he chose you and me, freely and unconditionally, to stop the mouth of all human boasting.”
It’s true that God honored Bethlehem by using it. It’s true that an insignificant town got to play a part in changing history. And it’s true that God chose that small, unimportant town not to make it “feel” important, but to show that His actions really were all about His MERCY. And it worked! Because of the way God worked this miracle, the people of Bethlehem not only didn’t claim fame, most of them missed the event altogether. None could boast.
And so it is with us. Any significance God chooses to work through us is His business for His glory. So that none can boast.