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Micah 5:2-5a 1
2 “But you, Bethlehem 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.” 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. 5a And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses.

img205Background 2

The author of the book is “Micah of Moresheth” (1:1). The word “micah” means “Who is like Yahweh?” Micah’s hometown of Moresheth is probably the same town identified later as Moresheth-gath in the Shephelah (rolling hills) of Judah. This village was one of many that was captured by Sennacherib in his attack on Judah in 701 BC. (cf. Micah 1:14). Moresheth was an important city which guarded a key route into the hill country of Judah south of Jerusalem. Because of its importance it was fortified by Rehoboam as a defensive center (2Ch 11:5-12) Nothing else is known about Micah, but we can surmise that Micah may have actually prophesied during the invasion and witnessed the destruction of his own hometown by Sennecharib. He probably saw his relatives killed and hauled off into slavery.

Micah prophesied during “the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah” (1:1). We know that Jotham began a co-regency with his father Uzziah (Azariah) in 750 B.C. and he assumed sole authority when his father died in 739 B.C. (The year Isaiah was called as a prophet). Hezekiah began ruling with his father Ahaz in 735 B.C. and he assumed sole authority when his father died in 715 B.C. Hezekiah continued his reign until 686 B.C. Thus Micah’s ministry extended no longer than 750-686 B.C.

Micah prophesied during a period of upheaval and crisis. The reign of Ahaz brought spiritual lethargy, apostasy and hypocrisy. The people still worshipped Yahweh, but it was ritual without life-changing reality. Their treatment of fellow Israelites violated the basic tenants of the Mosaic covenant as they failed to practice justice, or covenant loyalty-love and their pursuit of idolatry revealed their failure to walk humbly before Yahweh.

Micah’s purpose in writing was to show Judah that a necessary product of her covenant relationship to God was to be just and holy. His focus on God’s justice was to remind the people that God would judge them for their sin and disobedience (chaps 1-3) but that he would ultimately establish a kingdom whose king would reign in righteousness (chaps 4-5). He convicts Israel and Judah of their sin (in the lawsuit 6-7) and sentences them to judgment.

Biblical Truths 3

The Jews divided their country that for every thousand there was a chief captain: and because Bethlehem was not able to make a thousand, Micah calls it little. But yet God will raise up his captain and governor in it. (See Matthew 2:6) He shows that the coming of Christ and all his ways were appointed by God from all eternity. Micah compares the Jews to women with child, who for a time would have great sorrows, but eventually they would have a comfortable deliverance; ( John 16:21 ).

Why is this? Because Christ’s kingdom will be stable and everlasting, and his people, the Gentiles as well as the Jews, will dwell in safety. And this man, Christ, will be the peace, when the Assyrian’s come into the land.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the dangers in “ritualistic worship?”
  • How do those with faith that a God exists maintain a humble heart?
  • What do you think Micah meant when he said that our Savior would be our source of peace when the invasion comes?
  • Why is it important to keep the meaning of Christmas pure to the message that Micah is giving?
  • How do you think Micah’s message is being distorted today?

 

Luke 2:15-16
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

Background 4

If ever there was an opportunity for God to enact his plan with a majestic flourish, it was at Jesus’ birth. But God did not presume upon humanity when he stepped in to redeem it. There was no pretense in this arrival. Rather, God chose to identify in the humblest way with those made in his image. The story of Jesus’ birth in Luke mixes praise with simplicity. Its contrast to the birth of John the Baptist is remarkable. John’s birth was announced in the capital, at the temple, in the center of the Jewish nation. But Jesus arrives in rural anonymity. John is the child of a priest and his righteous wife; Jesus belongs to Jews of average social status.

Yet it is Jesus’ birth that draws an angelic host. Once again, appearances are deceiving. As humble as the setting is, his birth is accompanied by the attention of the heavenly host. The shepherds who are privileged to share in the moment become bearers of a story full of wonder. Jesus’ birth is more than a cosmic event; it is the arrival of divine activity that should provoke joy, reflection and attentiveness. That is why Mary ponders these events and the shepherds return glorifying God.( See the Birth 2:1-7)

Bible Truth 5

The angels left the shepherds and the shepherds did not doubt the truth of the angel’s words. They left their sheep and they went to find Jesus. They did not delay but they went quickly. It seems that they knew Bethlehem well. They had to look for a baby, with cloths round it, which was in a box for animal food. And they soon found Mary, Joseph and the baby. Everything was as the angel had told them. They saw the Christ who would save his people from their sins. The shepherds told everyone what the angel had said about the baby. Probably the angel said a lot more to them than we have in this record. What they said astonished all who heard them.

Items for Discussion

  • Why do you think that the shepherds believed what the angel had told them?
  • Why do you think God decided to use a human process, birth, and a human image a baby to save His people? Why not an angel?
  • What are the benefits of humility?
  • What makes you believe the Christmas Story?

Discussion Challenge

  • What do you find amazing about the birth of Christ? Why not share your amazement with someone this Christmas season.
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