A Little Box Doesn’t Mean a Little Gift
December 12, 2012, 6:57 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Micah 5:2-4

2 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.

3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.

4 And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

God Uses Little Things To Show the Bigness of His Glory

One of the best Christmas gifts I ever received came in a small box.  As a young boy I developed a love for the game of baseball.  My mom was afraid I’d get hurt, so the first year I played second base.  To be honest, I was an average second basemen.  The next year, I was at practice and the coaches announced that anyone wanting to try catching should come to them.  For some strange reason, I gave it a try.  I loved it.  But I also had to keep it secret from mom.  Finally one of her friends told mom that she was looking forward to mom getting to see me catch in our first game.  When mom came home, it was pretty tense, but I talked her in to letting me do it.  I was made to catch.  I enjoyed it and was good at it.  My dad recognized my talent and tried to encourage me all the time. 
I saw the opportunity to ask for my own catcher’s mitt.  I had been using the team’s mitt and wanted my own.  Dad told me to find one and maybe I would get it for Christmas.  I found two and my dad told me he would get one of them.  My dad worked a job where he would have t work one week for the mitt.  When I opened the small package and saw the glove I wanted, I knew the sacrifice dad had made so I determined to take care of the glove.  I still have it today, almost 50 years later.  I can still use it to catch a baseball.  The glove was made more valuable because of the tremendous sacrifice dad had made to get it for me. 

In Micah 5:2, we read “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah.”  Bethlehem was a runt.  God used a little town or community as a contrast to the greatness of the Messiah who would come from this tiny town.  Among all the towns in Judah, Bethlehem is insignificant yet God chooses this small town to be the birth place of the Messiah.  The point of this verse is that the value of Bethlehem was not attached to the town.  Bethlehem is major because of the sacrifice made.  God the Father used something small and insignificant to change the course of human history and eternity because of the sacrifice He was making.  God gave His only Son.  Using Bethlehem makes us see this is all about God.  God is able to use something little to do great things.    When God uses something small, the focus is only on Him. We can only stand amazed at the glorious mercy and power of our God.  God isn’t impressed by our efforts, but we are impressed by the magnitude of His glory.  When He works, all we can do is be amazed at Him. 

When God wanted a king to replace Saul, He went to the little town of Bethlehem.  He picked an ordinary man named Jesse, and went to the youngest son, David to find the perfect replacement for Saul, a man who was above others.  When God chose a man to defeat Goliath, He selected a boy, little David.  God had David, a boy whose weapon was a slingshot facing a giant.  God only requires that weWhy does God do his great work through little towns and youngest sons and slingshots and mangers and mustard seeds? David tells us in 1 Samuel 17:45–47, just before he slays the giant. He says to Goliath,

I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all the assembly may know that the Lord saves not with the sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.

God uses little towns and youngest sons and slingshots to magnify his glory by contrast, to show that he is not the least dependent on human glory or greatness or achievement. The apostle Paul puts it like this in 1 Corinthians 1:27–31. “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God . . . Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” God chose a stable so no inn-keeper might boast, “He chose 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!” So when Micah contrasts little Bethlehem with the greatness of the Messiah, he shows God acting in his typical fashion: to magnify his glory and to turn human boasting into gratitude and praise and faith. “Glory to God in the highest,” the angels said, and so should we.

So what was the Gift wrapped up in the small town Bethlehem? 

Any Jew, hearing Micah predict the coming of a ruler out of Bethlehem who would feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, would think immediately of two people: David and the coming son of David, the Messiah. David was from Bethlehem; David was a ruler in Israel; David was a shepherd. The link between the coming Messiah and king David is the link of promise. What Micah is doing is reasserting the certainty of God’s promise to David. You recall from 2 Samuel 7:12–16 how God said to David, “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever . . . And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.” The amazing thing about Micah is that he reasserts the certainty of this promise not at a time when Israel is rising to power but at a time when Israel is sinking toward oblivion. He witnesses the destruction of the northern kingdom, and he predicts the fall and exile of Judah.

You can tell how firmly someone believes God’s promise by whether it gives him strength and hope when life caves in around him. And Micah, it appears, never wavered. He knew God would keep his promise.

There are not many things in our lives that are sure and unshakable. And the older we get, the less sure and the more shakable everything around us becomes, because our very lives become fragile. What do we have that isn’t withering or fading?  I can think of only one thing, a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  In Him we have strength and hope and joy even when our physical bodies start to betray us.  God’s Promises are something we can count on.  Time and circumstances don’t destroy the promises of God.  Isaiah spoke of this in Isaiah 40: 6-8.  Stuff fades, but the Word will stand forever.  God keeps His promises. 

What does the Gift do?

Micah 5: 4: tells us that  “He shall stand and feed 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.” God’s purpose in sending the Messiah is not only to glorify himself but also to shepherd his people. Everybody in this room needs a divine Shepherd. You may not feel that need now in your strength, but you will feel it keenly, especially if you have to go through the valley of the shadow of death without the comfort of his rod and staff. We need a shepherd, and God has sent Christ just for that need.

Look what he offers in this verse. First, he will stand. He won’t lie around waiting for us to serve him. He will be on his toes, alert, working for those who chose him as their shepherd. Second, he will feed his flock. He will not leave us to find our own food. He will lead us in green pastures and beside still waters. There will be no want unsatisfied. Third, he will serve us in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. His good intentions for us will not be hindered by lack of strength. The strength of the Lord is omnipotent strength. Therefore, if you are trusting in Christ, omnipotent strength is on your side. Walk like an obedient sheep behind him, and he will overcome every obstacle to your purification and joy forever. Finally, notice that he shall be great to the ends of the earth. There will be no pockets of resistance unsubdued. Our security will not be threatened by any alien forces. Every knee will bow and confess him Lord. The whole earth will be filled with his glory.

So the sum of the matter is this. Jesus Christ has come out of Bethlehem. Like his town, he was humble and obscure and poor in his first coming. But this Savior is a Gift that is one of a king and its value is priceless.  Through the Gift in the little town of Bethlehem we learn we can count on God and that He will be all we need.  The greatest Gift has been given.  Have you received Him?