3 draft Bethlehem, the smallest
Sometimes the smallest voice speaks the truest. And at times it is not people who speak into our lives, but a place.
Prophets were people who speak God’s word, spoke of and for His presence, His being, His character. Yet Bethlehem is as a place of prophecy. It is a place spoken of and sung over. It is a place where God’s voice is heard, from the Father’s words about suffering, to His inspired Pslams by His prophet David; to the first soft cries of the baby Jesus and the lulling of animals. God has chosen Bethlehem to be a place that receives and then echo his voice to His people. It is a special place that holds his voice truly, tenderly and speaks it truthfully.
Micah 5:2 speaks Betlehem’s beginnings,
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me/ one who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”
The Messiah is to come from the small, the ancient, the Father’s special place. And He will come for God the Father, for this Father and son love their children. And they come to the smallest to ask us to be the least.
The adult Jesus teaches on the ‘small’ or least principle in Matthew 19: 30 to a rich ruler,
“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
Here, In Bethlehem, the Lord God began to teach us to reverse what we usually value, expect and have been taught. The least, the small, is the way of our Generous Father God. The world is to be turned upside down through Jesus’ teaching.
And what did Bethlehem speak of from its ancient past before His birth? It speaks of loss, of suffering.
King Herod, in his rage to find and destroy the baby Jesus, orders that all boy children under two be put to the sword. Matthew in his gospel (2:18) quotes the prophet Jeremiah describing this loss,
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
This city where the children died has Rachael’s tomb at it’s entrance (Genesis 35:19 ‘So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem))She died in child birth. Her child would not know her, a life taken, gone, a loss.
He hears sufferings spoken and those unspoken; our Father listens to silent voices. He understands loss.
Bethlehem is also a town of song. The home city of David, the smallest of Jesse’s eight sons, (1 Samuel 16) the shepherd boy David was overlooked, and forgotten as he sang to God tending sheep in the Bethlehem fields,
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘ Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. ( a good looking son of Jesse) The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Hearts are seen, their beats heard by this listening Father. Songs are heard. And he sees and hears them from David of Bethlehem’s boy shepherd and future King.
All these past voices join together, and culminates with a baby’s birth cries. A child who was called Jesus. He is to be our Saviour, our Lord.
This baby is to become ‘a man of sorrow’ ‘; a ‘suffering’ Messiah. (Isaiah 53); and yet He comes to end all sorrows; to ‘wipe away every tear.’ (Revelation 21:4)
Our Lord is a Lord who reverses what man, people, usually value . We value: Queens and Kings; appearances and beauty; power and wealth.
He values the poor and suffering; He values children; the poor; the widow; the weak. People who are born in mangers. The homeless. The refugee. Here, In Bethlehem , He shares His love; and this loving Messiah will heal.
He values all of us. He especially desires us to see the smallest, the most insignificant. He wants to see and hear how ‘little town of Bethlehem’ is our town, our place. His home.
A town with the same name for over 3,500 years. A town, the place of a prophetic voice that says,
“The last, the least, will be first.”
This season hear the smallest, the weakest voice season. Listen to the aged and children; the poor and the powerless. This is the generosity of The Father that Bethlehem embodies: He listens, to the smallest, softest, the most silent of voices. To babies cries. This season, Listen to His heart. Listen to the smallest voice.
It speaks of Bethlehem. His special place; His voice; home.
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