Bethlehem's Babe - The Savior's Song

Bible Book: Micah  5 : 2
Subject: Bethlehem; Jesus, Birth of; Christmas
Series: Bethlehem Songs


"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2 KJV)

It was the year of 1865 and after traveling on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, an American preacher attended a 5 hour Christmas Eve celebration service. It was just a small distance from the very fields where the shepherds have experienced an angelic visitation.

The preacher was Phillip Brooks one of America’s most notable ministers during his age. The church had given him a sabbatical, so Brooks went on a trip to the Holy Land. The events of this celebration service would allow him to be etched in Christian history for ages to come.

Time had passed and three years later Brooks wanted to write a song for his children’s choir. Upon reflecting of his experience at the Church of the Nativity, he penned the wondrous lyrics to “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. The song may never have gotten anywhere without the melody that was written by Lewis H. Redner, whom was the church organist of Brook’s current church.

Brook’s approached Redner and told him he needed music for the song for the next Sunday’s service. The week progressed and Redner was at his wits end, but on that Saturday night he was aroused from sleeping and the melody was dancing through his mind. The famous words to the song are as follows:

O little town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem,

How still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by;

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee to-night.

O morning stars, together

Proclaim the holy birth!

And praises sing to God the King,

And peace to men on earth.

For Christ is born of Mary,

And gathered all above,

While mortals sleep, the angels keep

Their watch of wondering love.

How silently, how silently,

The wondrous gift is given!

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessings of his heaven.

No ear may hear his coming,

But in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive him, still

The dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy

Pray to the blessed Child,

Where misery cries out to thee,

Son of the mother mild;

Where charity stands watching

And faith holds wide the door,

The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,

And Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem!

Descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin and enter in,

Be born in us to-day.

We hear the Christmas angels

The great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us,

Our Lord Emmanuel.

I. The Frivolous Humility of Bethlehem “Minimum Might”

The writer here makes a clear notation that Bethlehem was not chosen due to its social status or standing. The name Bethlehem is mentioned in the bible 39 times. In all honesty the little city had minimal impact on Jewish economy or commerce.

A) Bethlehem’s Name & Identity

The bible mentions various things concerning the town of Bethlehem. In this section we will consider the name of the city and its biblical identity.

1 - Its Distinction

In the bible we find two various cities identified as Bethlehem. The cities are found in Galilee and in Judah, so due to this we find the clear distinction. The Bethlehem of Galilee was only 5 miles from Nazareth, the city where Jesus was raised. This ancient city is no longer around, but was mentioned in Joshua 19: 15. The Bethlehem of Judah was only 7 miles from Jerusalem; this would be the place Jesus was born.

It is amazing that Mary and Joseph had to travel from Galilee unto Bethlehem, Judah; a journey of 75 miles. If Jesus had been born in Bethlehem of Galilee the bible would have been erroneous in prophesying his appointed place of birth. We can rest be assured that God will see that every prophetic promise will come to fruition.

2 - Its Definition

The passage tells the messiah would be born in Bethlehem, Ephratah which descends from the tribe and linage of Judah. The bible leaves no room for error or doubt as it clearly defines the selected city.

In reading the name Bethlehem we need to understand that it means “house of bread”. In reading the name Ephratah we fund that it means “place of fruitfulness”. We also find the name Judah which means “praised”.

So in fully interpreting this famous place of the nativity of our wonderful savior, we find that it means, “House of bread and praise, and a place of fruitfulness”. It is with this thought in mind that we can see that Bethlehem may have been an insignificant earthly speaking, but rather important in the scheme of things heavenly speaking.

B) Bethlehem’s Novelty & Inadequacy

The passage tells us that Bethlehem was insignificant compared to all of those that surrounded the city. The descendants of Israel were to numerous to mention, but in naming them one would be reluctant to place much emphasis upon this least of all cities. In this we find mightiness of God, he does not need mighty nobility because he can use meager inability and perform marvelous majestic miracles.

1 - Small in Size & Population

It has been suggested by various historians that Bethlehem in the days of Jesus would only have had 150 to 200 people living within its borders. I don’t know about you but my dear friend that is awful small in size and in stature. The little city is located on a high mount and was minimal in size and one could rather easily pass through the city in a very short amount of time. I want to let you visualize the size of this city by using modern day comparisons from surrounding cities:

Eton, Ga. 319 (2000 census)

Resaca, Ga. 815 (2000 census)

Cohutta, Ga. 582 (2000 census)

Cisco, Ga. 301 (2000 census)

In viewing these numbers it is rather easy for us to see that Bethlehem would be considered small. It would not have been much to write home about numerically speaking or socially speaking.

You Know You Live in a Small Town When...

The local phone book has only one yellow page.

Third Street is on the edge of town.

You leave your jacket on the back of the chair in the cafe, and when you go back the next day, it's still there, on the same chair.

You don't signal turns because everyone knows where you're going anyway.

No social events can be scheduled when the school gym floor is being varnished.

You call a wrong number and are supplied with the correct one.

You give directions using "the" stop light as a reference.

The country club golf course had only 9 holes.

Getting paid minimum wage is considered a raise.

You refer to anyone with a house newer than 1980 as the "rich people"

Weekend excitement involves a trip to a Wal-Mart.

After the age of 19 you still wear your letterman’s jacket.

When a night on the town takes less than 11 minutes.

2 - Silent in Significance & Popularity

The little town of Bethlehem had saw some superb events in its day and time but mostly it just sit in the middle of famous places. In all actuality it was the hub of various landmark events in the history of Israel.

15 Miles south was the city of Hebron, home of the famous patriarchs of Israel.

10 miles to the NW was Gibeon the place that Joshua saw the sun stand still.

12 miles to the west was Sucoh the place where David killed Goliath.

5 Miles to the north was the famous city of Jerusalem where Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek.

42 miles to the east was the infamous city of Joppa, the place of Jonah’s flight.

II. The Famous History of Bethlehem “Marvelous Moments”

The little city of Bethlehem may have been insignificant in size and stature, but she did have some awesome events that we should consider. The little mountainous city was so small one may have had to walk through it just to turn around, but of the rich history.

It seems that God allowed various events to occur in this little city just to give us a taste of things to come. The city had a special place in the heart of God as he allowed many significant events to transpire within the feeble borders of his chosen city. One does not have to read much in the bible to see that God loved this city.

A) Past Prominence

In this section we will look at various happenings in the history of the little town of Bethlehem:

1 - Rachel was Buried there (Gen. 35: 19)

The precious bride of Jacob was buried in the little city of Bethlehem.

(Gen 35:19 KJV)

And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which [is] Bethlehem.

2 - Ruth was Redeemed there (Ruth 4: 10/11)

One of the most beautiful stories in the word of God is found in the book of Ruth. The beautiful Moabitesh daughter in law of Naomi meet Boaz in the barley fields of Bethlehem, and in those fields she found relief and redemption.

(Rth 4:10 KJV)

Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye [are] witnesses this day.

(Rth 4:11 KJV)

And all the people that [were] in the gate, and the elders, said, [We are] witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

3 - David was Anointed there (I Sam. 16: 1, 13)

When it was time to replace King Saul, God sent his prophet down to the small city of Bethlehem. It was here where God placed his anointing upon the proper king of Israel. The mighty future king of Israel was out tending to the sheep, unbeknownst to him that he would soon be shepherding an entire nation. On the outskirts of the small town of Bethlehem we find the very king of Israel tending to a flock of sheep. In this picture God is painting to us a prophetic picture of things to come.

(1Sa 16:1 KJV)

And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

(1Sa 16:13 KJV)

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

4 - David was Honored there (II Sam. 23: 14/17)

The king of Israel was in a bad situation and they were hedged up in a cave, and he so longed to taste some water from the well in Bethlehem. In hearing the King’s request from the cave in Adullam, some of David’s mighty men intended to see that his wishes were fulfilled. The bible says that 3 of his mighty men broke through the lines and placed their lives in danger but they soon returned with a pail of water in hand. The king was so moved that he refused to drink the water, but rather in honor of the courage of these men he reverently poured it out upon the ground.

(2Sa 23:14 KJV)

And David [was] then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines [was] then [in] Bethlehem.

(2Sa 23:15 KJV)

And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which [is] by the gate!

(2Sa 23:16 KJV)

And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that [was] by the gate, and took [it], and brought [it] to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.

(2Sa 23:17 KJV)

And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: [is not this] the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.

B) Prophetic Privileges

In considering the famous history of Bethlehem, we not only see the past prominence, but we also see the prophetic privileges. The feeble city of Bethlehem may have been overlooked by Society but that was not the case when it came to Divinity. In the prophetic plan of God we find that he had awesome plans for the little city of David, nestled within the land of Judah.

1 - Pronounced Seed of Divinity “Heavens Hero”

The bible mentions the coming messiah in many passages found in our bibles, but here in this specific passage we find the actual birthplace. It all begins in Genesis 3 as God promised the coming seed that would crush the head of Satan. The book of Isaiah gives us so much more insight concerning the identity of this future messiah, but the writer never reveals the city of his birth to the biblical reader.

In this small little Old Testament book, seemingly nestled unknowingly in the latter verses of its pages we find a prophetic revelation. The future Savior of the world will be destined from heaven to earth, and this destination will be Bethlehem, Judah the famous city of David. It is here that we are introduced to our heavenly hero, the seed of divinity; Jesus Christ. Isaiah shares multitudes of insightful information with us concerning the one to come, but only Micah reveals his birthplace.

Jesus Christ may have been born on that starry night many years ago, but don’t be fooled into thinking that was his literal beginning. The book of Micah tells us that he would be born but that he was around before his birth and will be around long after his birth.

If we try to comprehend the awe of this miraculous manifestation we would drive ourselves totally insane. In the fullness of time God would send forth his son, the seed of God divinely implanted into the womb of a woman; to be the Savior of the world.

(Gal 4:4 KJV)

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

(Gal 4:5 KJV)

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

2 - Proclaimed Seat of Royalty Earths Emancipator”

The divine son would one day take his rightful seat upon the very throne of David. This one would ultimately be the immaculate emancipator of the sins of mankind. On mount Moriah Abraham proclaimed that God would one day provide himself a lamb, this sovereign Son of God was that prophetic lamb.

The moment he was born Satan devised a plan to kill him. The heathen king of that day pronounced immediate infanticide upon every baby boy 2 years of age and under, but God would see to it that his Son would fulfill his plan and one day sit upon David’s throne.

III. The Fabulous Honor of Bethlehem “Majestic Majesty”

In reading the gospels we find that the prophetic words of Micah were fantastically fulfilled. The shepherds were out tending to their flocks on the outskirts of Bethlehem, when the angel of the Lord appeared. The events of majestic majesty were unleashed upon this world on that awesome night.

The most famous person the world has ever know was about to be conceived within the small city of David. The angel proclaimed him, the angelic host praised him, the shepherds published his story, Mary pondered upon him, and the entire world is still puzzled by him.

Now let us consider that little baby boy that God sent from heaven to earth. How was the atmosphere in heaven as the divine Son of God exited heaven and headed for earth? I’m thinking that a holy hush overtook the portals of glory, but its reach also extended down to earth as the angel presented the babe in the manger.

A) The Traits of that Little Baby Boy

In considering Bethlehem’s babe, we need to think about the traits of that little baby boy.

· The government shall rest upon his shoulder

· He shall be Wonderful

· He shall be a Counselor

· He is The Mighty God

· He is The Everlasting Father

· He is The Prince of Peace

· He Throne will be Unending

· He shall be called Jesus, Emmanuel, Christ, Son of God, & Son of Man

Let us consider “That Little Baby Boy” that was born so many years ago, he is worthy of all consideration:

· That baby is Amazingly Awesome

· That baby is Beautifully Becoming

· That baby is Confidently Conquering

· That baby is Delightfully Darling

· That baby is Eternally Everlasting

· That baby is Faithful Forever

· That baby is Genuinely Good

· That baby is Historically Honorable

· That baby is Immensely Immaculate

· That baby is Jubilantly Joyous

· That baby is Knowingly King

· That baby is Literally Lovely

· That baby is Marvelously Mighty

· That baby is Naturally Noticeable

· That baby is Officially Original

· That baby is Personally Precious

· That baby is Quintessentially Qualified

· That baby is Righteously Redemptive

· That baby is Simply Sweet

· That baby is Thankfully Trustworthy

· That baby is Ultimately Unique

· That baby is Valiantly Victorious

· That baby is Wonderfully Worthy

· That baby is the X that marks the spot

· That baby is Yieldingly Yoked

· That baby is Zestfully Zealous

In considering that little baby boy we soon realize that he is very worthy of all praise. In looking at the monumental acts that have impacted the world, nobody has made more impact than that little fellow who was born in the manger of Bethlehem. The entire world will be confronted with his birth as we soon celebrate Christmas, then we will celebrate Good Friday, and ultimately Easter.

B) The Treasure of that Little Baby Boy

The precious treasure of that little baby boy was entrusted to an engaged couple that had kept themselves pure and honorable in the eyes of God. The lord allowed them to bear the burden of caring for this heavenly treasure. It is much to ponder on how Mary and Joseph felt in raising the very Son of God.

C) The Timing of that Little Baby Boy

When the time was just right, God sent forth that little baby boy. The voice of God had not been heard within the boundaries of Israel for 400 years and suddenly God declares that the time was at hand, so he picked him out a worth vessel and sent forth his boy.

D) The Triumph of that Little Baby Boy

The little baby boy of Bethlehem may have been born in a manger but from day one the world was on notification that he would be triumphant in his quest:

· The Angel of the Lord

· The Angelic Host

· The Shepherds Haste

· The Manger Scene

· The Lad Teaching in the Temple

· The Proclamation of John the Baptist

· The Dove Descending Upon his Shoulder

· The Voice of God Acknowledging his Son

· The Mount of Transfiguration

· The Scenes on Mount Calvary

· The Resurrection

· The Ascension