Advent Devotion for December 6
Candle Lighter says: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah”
Response: “are only a small village among all the people of Judah.”
SCRIPTURE: Micah 5:1-5a
1 Mobilize! Marshal your troops!
The enemy is laying siege to Jerusalem.
They will strike Israel’s leader
in the face with a rod.
2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past,
will come from you on my behalf.
3 The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth.
Then at last his fellow countrymen
will return from exile to their own land.
4 And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
for he will be highly honored around the world.
5 And he will be the source of peace.
SOME THOUGHTS: This passage from Micah is one of the most familiar prophetic passages in the Old Testament. The first verse is actually (v.14) in the Hebrew Scriptures. Israel was under a vicious attack from the Assyrians to the north. Though crushed in defeat, God preserved a remnant of His people, Israel. Being struck in the face with a rod was a sign of further contempt. (v.1) The nation was being purified. The prophet proclaims that a future ruler will come from the tiny village of Bethlehem. Ephrathah was the ancient name of Bethlehem. (Ruth 4:11) It was also the birthplace of King David. The phrase “one whose origins are from the distant past” suggests this is an unusual king, suggesting a divine-human ruler, the Ancient of Days. Often in prophetic literature there is a more immediate fulfillment, a kind of “shadow” of the future. Then there is the final fulfillment, which completes the prophecy. Often we are living between the two, awaiting the completion of the proclamation. Zerubbabel, a descendant of King David, did rule Israel when they returned from the Assyrian captivity, but no peace followed. A greater king was needed. This king would be a source of peace. The only king who ever brings peace is King Jesus! The Prince of Peace came to earth in the fulfillment of Micah’s words and he brought another prophetic message from heaven itself. You can read his words in the above passage from Luke’s gospel. His words? “Don’t let your hearts be dulled…by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware.” Jesus is where you will find your peace today.
MUSIC: O Little Town of Bethlehem by Sarah McLachlan (YouTube)
NOTE: Bethlehem means “house of bread.” It was Jesus who said, “I am the bread of life.”
POEM OF GEORGE HERBERT: This is the latter part of a poem entitled “Peace.”
At length I met a rev’rend good old man,
Whom when for Peace
I did demand, he thus began:
‘There was a Prince of old
At Salem dwelt, Who liv’d with good increase
Of flock and fold.
‘He sweetly liv’d; yet sweetness did not save
His life from foe.
But after death out of His grave
There sprang twelve stalks of wheat;
Which many wond’ring at, got some of those
To plant and set.
‘It prosper’d strangely; and did soon disperse
Through all the earth;
For they that taste it do rehearse
That virtue lies therein;
A secret virtue, bringing peace and mirth
By flight of sin.
‘Take of this grain, which in my garden grows,
And grows for you;
Make bread of it; and that repose
And peace, which ev’ry where
With so much earnestness you do pursue,
Is only there.’