“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)
A short six miles south of Jerusalem in Israel is the town of Bethlehem, or Beit Lechem (House of Bread) as it is properly named in Hebrew. Once a small Jewish town centuries ago, it has now been deemed a town primarily for a majority population of Palestinian Muslims. I have been there several times – first in 1994, before Palestinian rule took over in 1995, and lastly in 2017.
A lot had changed in those decades, and as a result, it isn’t what it once was. The vast majority of Jews and Christians have been forced to leave their once thriving homes in this part of Judea, as the now so-called “West Bank” territorial population rulers do not have the toleration level for others, which is found elsewhere in Israel under the full Jewish government. Let the truth be known.
There no more remain the family shops which once produced the popular olive wood figurines and the like for the vast amount of tourists who used to “flock here” from their international homes. Oh, they still come in numbers, but only under heavy security and other safety precautions that must be taken. After I drove my rented car through Beit Lechem in May, 2017, a Jerusalemite afterward told me that the auto insurance I had would not have covered any damage if it had gotten stoned within the city limits. (If I ever return there by car, I will keep that in mind.)
The Church of the Nativity still stands over the most probable place where the Lord, Messiah Yeshua, chose to come as man in the flesh, to fulfill the first of a multitude of prophetic Scripture, long ago prophesied. This is where Jesus’ birth on earth took place. The Jewish prophet Micah had written of it centuries prior. Though it isn’t the same peaceful abode it was back then, when shepherds watched their flocks at night in the hills surrounding, nonetheless, it still remains as a witness to the world that the Savior has come.
In my last visit to Bethlehem, by myself in that rented auto, I took great liberty to mingle among those tourists from India, China, Korea, Europe and the Americas who walked within the large church structure, built over what is believed to be the exact location of Yeshua’s birth. When in your mind you peel away the man-made brick and mortar that covers the simple spot beneath the floors, you realize that in His first coming the Savior of the world came quietly and without fanfare. Those looking for Him would soon enough realize His desire to first come as the Lamb, before His soon coming return as the Lion.
For my Catholic friends, of which traditions I grew up with, the Mass taking place over the church marked spot, though spoken by the Orthodox priest in another language which I knew not, still carried love and respect for this historical site and the Person whom these call upon. I pray they know Him as their Lord and Savior, the Living God of Israel, and not as one from a story taught from religious traditions, stripped of His true Glory. (Photo by Steve Martin: May 2017 Church of the Nativity, Catholic Mass being said over the believed location of Yeshua’s birth.)
To me, it is not so much the exact time when the Savior came during the calendar year, but the fact that He has come. Believing in Jesus’ birth, His very real life on earth, sacrificial death upon the cross and manifested bodily resurrection, all in fulfillment of Torah and Scriptural written prophesy is what matters the most. Those who know Him as Lord will reign with Him once His glorious return back to Jerusalem occurs. I so look forward to that and rest my hopes upon Him.
“O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.”
Shalom and ahava (peace and love in Hebrew).
Now think on this,
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Now Think On This #336 – in the year of our Lord 12.10.17 – “Jerusalem & Friends – O Little Town of Bethlehem”, Sunday, 7:40 am