God’s marvelously orchestrated plan for our peace
Gracious Father, thank you for the Light of the World who is peace for all who put their trust in him.
Read Micah 5:1-6
5 [a]Marshal your troops now, city of troops,
for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel’s ruler
on the cheek with a rod.
2 “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.”
3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
4 He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
5 And he will be our peace
when the Assyrians invade our land
and march through our fortresses.
We will raise against them seven shepherds,
even eight commanders,
6 who will rule[c] the land of Assyria with the sword,
the land of Nimrod with drawn sword.[d]
He will deliver us from the Assyrians
when they invade our land
and march across our borders.
MeditationAs we see God’s infinite attention to detail throughout the Christmas story, can we have any doubt that He is attentive to the smallest concerns in our lives?
In the 7th century BC, Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from northern Israel. Micah, his contemporary, prophesied that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, a small southern town. Another contemporary, Hosea, foretold that God’s Son would come out of Egypt. While the seeming contradictions no doubt confused those who wanted to do harm to Jesus, what an amazing confirmation they were for people of faith as they remembered those prophesies and saw God’s plan worked out for His son. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was hidden by his parents in Egypt before being brought to Nazareth where he grew up and began his ministry.
While Micah predicted the future destruction of Jerusalem and Samaria, he also offered hope for restoration. God would not abrogate His covenant with His people. But the promise of a Messiah would not just be for the remnant of Israel – God’s plan for redemption would reach far into the future for all who would place their trust in Jesus. What an incredible gift for us even today to see God’s great plan for our salvation worked out through His son.
The village of Bethlehem Ephrata was a farm community of shepherds. It seemed insignificant, but it is where Rachel was buried, where Ruth met Boaz, and where David was born. God chose a place poor in influence and power, yet rich in history. He also chose a place that supplied many, if not most, of the resources, including the Passover lambs, for the Temple in Jerusalem. God also chose a place whose name is of no small significance; the meaning of the word Bethlehem is House of Bread and Ephrata means fruitfulness or abundance. It was the fittest of names for the place where the Bread of Life would come into this world and be the first fruits of those who are made alive in him and called to bear fruit that will last.
Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem but declared that Jesus did not begin there; his name was not known until the angel Gabriel announced it to his mother, but he existed from eternity past, and at a point in time, humanity was added to his deity. He would come to fulfill his Father’s covenant and make atonement for sinners lost in a world of darkness.
When the Assyrians came against them, peace for the Israelites would be bought with submission, and it brought desolation. The Christ would not just bring peace; he would be peace! Jesus is the shepherd of our peace. Almost 700 years before he came, Micah said that Jesus would stand and shepherd his flock; he continues to go before us, enabling us to live in security as his greatness reaches the ends of the earth. Jesus is our peace as priest, reconciling us to God and continuing to intercede for us. And Jesus is our peace as king; he overcomes every enemy and will continue to rule throughout eternity.
Download this all age family guide, Advent Reflections to continue to prepare your heart for Christmas.