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Pastor Steve Ellison
From Genesis to Micah, Bethlehem appears often on the pages of the Old Testament. We first learn of Bethlehem in Genesis 47 where we are told of the burial of Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife. The book of Ruth tells us that Bethlehem is the setting for perhaps the most beautiful love story ever told. That story begins with a touch of irony. The name Bethlehem means “House of Bread”. In the very first paragraph, we are told that a certain man left the “House of Bread” in search of bread. This love story results in the birth of David who will grow up in Bethlehem. Later as David was fleeing from the unjust wrath of King Saul, he had such a craving for a drink from the well at Bethlehem that three of his most valiant warriors risked their lives just to bring David water from the Bethlehem well. The most significant Old Testament mention of Bethlehem is found in Micah 5:2 “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” (NASU) Who can predict the place of his own birth? Only the Christ, that is who. Matthew 2 and Luke 2 both verify that Christ was indeed born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:6 confirms that Micah 5:2 correctly predicted the birthplace of the Messiah.
After Jesus miraculously fed the five thousand, the people began to question Him which presented Him an opportunity to reveal great spiritual truth. John 6:30-35 states, So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. (NASU)
So, the very first Christmas gift was the Bread of Life being born in the House of Bread. God has such a wonderful sense of the dramatic. His use of irony helps us to understand marvelous spiritual truths. The Bread of Life was born in the House of Bread and laid in a feeding trough. As you read and hear the story of Christ’s birth during this Christmas season, please dedicate some time to reflecting on what it means for Christ to be the Bread coming down out of heaven to be the Bread of Life for all who believe. You must see Him through eyes of faith now. When you die or He returns, you will see Him as He is. That will be seeing Him in reality. There will be no room for faith then. Oh, you will believe but not through faith. Faith is for here and now. A Christmas gift has been offered to you. If you are to receive this Bread of Life which will satisfy all your hungers, you must receive Him by faith in this life. Won’t you trust Him now? Merry Christmas, feasting on the Bread of Life!