MICAH 5:2 “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 the days of eternity.” ISAIAH 9:1-2 “By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
57 years ago (1965), Charlie Brown asked a question: “Does anybody really know what Christmas is all about?” Linus answered him by quoting Luke 2:8-14 from memory, ending with “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Linus says an angel tells Bethlehem shepherds “I bring you good tidings of great joy to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’”
If Jesus was born in Bethlehem, why is He called “Jesus of Nazareth”? Why not “Jesus of Bethlehem”? Luke 2:4 explains. The Roman census made Jews return from their city of residence to their city of lineage. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, but Joseph was of David’s lineage, who was from Bethlehem.
At the time of this census, Mary was ready to give birth. Luke 2:6 tells us that while in Bethlehem, she gave birth to Jesus. Luke 2:39-40 explains that after Jesus was circumcised as a baby, the family returned to their home in Nazareth, in the region of Galilee, where Jesus grew up as a boy and would later begin the ministry given to Him by God His Father when He turned 30 years old – the ministry prophesied by the angel to the shepherds – the Savior of all mankind. That’s how Jesus ties to Bethlehem and Nazareth.
But the fulfillment of prophecy that proves Jesus is Savior and Lord of humanity would not be very compelling if it was based solely on an angel telling shepherds that this baby is Him. That sounds self-fulfilling, which is how other religious figures through history made their case as God’s “chosen one.”
There are over 300 Old Testament prophecies on the Coming Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, most of which He could not orchestrate. In this article, we tie together two Christmas-time prophecies: the prophet Micah’s announcement in 720 BC that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and the prophet Isaiah’s announcement around the same time that Messiah would come out of the region of Galilee.
MICAH 5:2 “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 the days of eternity.” Few people know there are two Bethlehem’s: 1) Bethlehem Ephrathah, which is in the region of Judea near Jerusalem, and 2) Bethlehem of Zebulun, which is 7 miles northwest of Nazareth in the region of Galilee. This is one of hundreds of examples of God’s precision in His Bible, so we get the location right.
This verse also announces this One born in Bethlehem will be ruler in Israel because His “goings forth are from of old, from the days of eternity.” In Matthew 2:4-6, when Herod asked the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah would be born, they pointed Herod to Micah 5:2 because Micah clearly announces that this person born in Bethlehem Ephrathah has no beginning. Instead, He is from eternity. He is God.
ISAIAH 9:1-2 “By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Isaiah announces Messiah will emerge out of the region of Galilee.
There were three parts to ancient Palestine: Galilee to the north, Judea to the south, and Samaria in the center. Jesus lives in Nazareth, the region of Galilee, as a carpenter’s son. It’s very telling in John 1:45-46 that when Philip tells Nathaniel that Jesus of Nazareth is the One whom Moses wrote about, Nathaniel answers “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was not known to be of any importance.
Isaiah then pinpoints Messiah’s emergence onto the scene more precisely by saying He will emerge near the Sea of Galilee. That’s where Jesus’s ministry began. Isaiah then ties Messiah to a “great light” seen by people who “walk in darkness.” Jesus confirms Isaiah’s prophecy in John 9:5: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” So does John, John 1:4: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
Jesus Christ, born in little, unknown Bethlehem Ephrathah, and growing up and emerging out of little, unknown Nazareth, fulfills both prophecies of Micah and Isaiah. These two prophecies are what Linus was explaining to Charlie Brown as the true meaning of Christmas. And yet it was over 2,700 years ago that Jewish prophets were telling the true meaning of Christmas! This year, remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas – the birth and arrival of the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Savior of humanity – Jesus Christ.
“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance” _ Article #532