The Glory of Little Bethlehem
“The Christian life, it seems, is a constant trading in of “big” things for seemingly “small” ones.
We exchange the bravado of pride for the posture of humility.
We surrender the booming voice of self for the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit.
Each Christmas season highlights this tension. We are drawn to the bigger and the better: bigger gifts, bigger budgets, bigger light displays. And yet, since the very first Christmas, Christ has compelled us to look away from the “big stuff” that seems so significant. Quietly, He invites us to strain our eyes and bow our hearts to see the wonder of the small. But this invitation did not start with the tiny baby in the tiny manger. God was attentive to making sure every detail of His arrival was understated “from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).
Here, in Micah 5, we find God’s people under attack and in distress (v.1). Any small glimmer of hope becomes momentous when our lives are under siege. We latch on to any news that better days are ahead when the day we’re in the midst of threatens to overtake us. So we can surely celebrate with the citizens of Zion because as enemies surrounded them, hope started to spark.
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler of Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient of days” (v.2).
Look around you.
If we hand-picked the details of the Christmas story, we’d prioritize grand above modest, spectacular above common, big above small. We’d likely dismiss Mary and Joseph as too unremarkable, the stable as too drab, and Bethlehem as too small and seemingly insignificant. Yet, as we trace God’s hand throughout all of Scripture, it’s clear God does not assign value according to our scale.
This fixation with the small stuff was as confusing to the people who encountered Jesus as it often is for us. In the Gospel of John, we find folks bickering over Micah’s prophecy (John 7:40-44). They knew the Messiah would come from the the hometown of David, but because mankind tends to have a collective obsession with bigger, shinier things, the point missed its mark in their hearts.
Bethlehem wasn’t chosen as the epicenter for redemption because David made it famous. It was chosen for its smallness.
Bethlehem was a small, sleepy town, handpicked by God to incubate a spark of hope until it burst into flames. In the same way, our own smallness points to the greatness of God. There is nothing we can do about our brokenness. Yet, like Bethlehem, our sin works like an epicenter for hope when we trade it in for the humongous grace God offers.
When we exchange our obsession with making all things bigger and better, we are free to see that the promise delivered to God’s people through Micah is ours to hold on to this Christmas.”
“And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.”
– Micah 5:4
Hoping you celebrate His very significant birth in the least significant place!
May you exchange the temporal desires of this world, man’s estimation of you, for the everlasting joy and peace that only He can provide. And provide, He will.
May you and yours have the merriest of Christmases!