Saturday, December 22, 2007

O Little Town of Bethleham.....

This post is written in red in honor of Christmas!!

The devotional I am reading is a small book called Why a Manger? by Bodie Thoene and it has me thinking about how intentional God is. Today's topic is "Why Bethleham?". I guess I always just assumed that Jesus was born in Bethleham because that is where Mary happened to be when she went into labor. Ahhhh, little did I know that Bethleham was as carefully decided on and planned as St. Lukes Hospital was when I delivered my children. In fact, God had specifically and intentionally chosen Bethleham. Why?

First of all, I always thought Bethleham was a sweet little place with a beautiful name and clear skies full of stars. It wasn't. In fact it was dirty and poor. Home to shepherds and dirty, smelly sheep (I'm thinking this would be the modern day equivilant of the stockyards). The first born male sheep was considered holy and the shepherds would raise and sell them in Jerusalem to be sold as a sin offering in the temple.

Bethleham was also the birthplace of King David (the most famous shepherd of the Old Testament). In between the time of David's rule until the birth of Christ, there lived the prophets of God. Listen to this:

"A shoot will come up out of the stump of Jesse (David's Dad);
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The spirit of the LORD will rest on him"
Isaiah 11:1

"The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a
good branch in David's family. He will be a king who will rule in
a wise way; he will do what is fair and right in the land."
Jeremiah 23:5

"You Bethleham Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times."
Micah 5:2

Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah all lived several hundred years before the birth of Christ and yet all three accurately told of the coming King and exactly where he would be coming Bethleham from the line of David! Where else would you expect a sacrificial lamb to be born? Where else would our Great Shepherd come from? Only from the little shepherding town of Bethleham.

"He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart." Isaiah 40:11

Once again I am reminded that nothing happens by accident or coincidence, God has a plan, even down to the smallest details! The question is, will we take the time to see His plan and all of the details involved? This is so exciting to me because it enables me to look at my life and all of its details with a new eye. Good, bad or ugly it is all a part of His great plan! A savior born in a dirty, manure-filled cave could not have appeared to be a good thing at the time, but look how it turned out! Thanks be to God that through Christ I can be sure that the dirty parts of my life will turn out for good as well! It's all in His plan and it is all in His control!

Peace and Blessings~~~Kelley

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