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Text Sermons : Erlo Stegen : True Preparation for Christmas (part 2)

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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 everlasting.”

Here we have a phenomenal promise of the birth of Jesus, in Bethlehem, Judea. Jesus is from everlasting, He had no beginning. He existed even before the stars were created.

This confuses some people. They are puzzled with the existence of God and that He is from everlasting.

However, if you can understand everything about God then He is your size and He is not God at all. Such a god which you can fully comprehend is only the god of your imagination.

A child in grade 1 cannot be expected to pass the final exam in grade 12. So too we do not at present have the mind to comprehend eternity and the possibility that He has no beginning.

Others again are puzzled by the Trinity. But there are simpler examples which could shed light on the matter. An egg consists of the egg yoke, the egg white and the shell; yet it is one. We human beings are made in God's image and we are spirit, soul and body, yet one person.
The story is told of a certain professor who was thinking about the Trinity as he strolled upon the beach. Then he noticed a child repeatedly fetching water from the sea in a bucket and pouring it into a hole in the sand. After watching the child for a while, he stepped up to the child and asked him what his objective was. The child replied, "sir, I'm putting the whole sea into my hole", and then the child vanished. Suddenly it dawned on him that God sent the child to show him how he was trying to fit the breadth and depth and vastness of God into the little hole of his mind.

A donkey is nothing. But when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the donkey the people clothed the donkey with their best garments for Jesus to sit on. They also spread their clothes before it on the road.

So too, you are nothing but Jesus makes something of you when He dwells in you. Unfortunately the reverse is also true - if the devil is let loose in your life, even if you were someone important, he destroys your life and makes you to become a nothing.

Bethlehem was a small, unknown town, but it became the most important town because Jesus was born in it.

Even the name Bethlehem Ephratha means something wonderful. Bethlehem means "house of bread" and Ephratha means "fruitfulness" in the original language. Very fertile soil was found around Bethlehem.

Bethlehem also has a marvelous history. We in South Africa do not have cities with a history of thousands of years. Even king Shaka is of recent history. But Bethlehem existed even 4000 years ago. When Jacob traveled to Bethel, his wife Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, and he buried her at Ephratha, which is Bethlehem (Gen 35:19).
In Ruth we read of Naomi the widow of Abimilech, who returned from the land of Moab with her two daughters-in-law to go back to Bethlehem, because they were originally from there. Her husband and two sons had died in Moab. She advised her daughters-in-law to remain in their own country and marry again. The one cried bitterly and went back to her country and her gods, but the other, Ruth, replied,

“ Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The LORD do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
(Ruth 1:16, 17)

Ruth was a gem, worth more than a thousand sons or daughters. Ruth was a virtuous, godly woman. Although Naomi looked poor outwardly as she returned from Moab, she was extremely rich with such a daughter-in-law. They loved each other with Godly love. God blessed her and Ruth married Boaz. Ruth became the great grandmother of king David and the bloodline from which Jesus Christ was born.

Samuel also anointed David as king in Bethlehem. Jesse, David's father, stayed in Bethlehem (1Sam 16).

However, most importantly, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He became nothing so that we who are nothing can identify with Him. He was born there, rejected by the world, poverty-stricken and helpless. The poorest and weakest can come to Him and be identified with Him. He Who has been from eternity, the greatest of all, left all His glory and riches so that we can be saved from our sins. He carried all our sicknesses and sins, even the greatest and most grievous of them. That's why He prayed that the cup might pass from Him; but still He chose His Father's will.

It should be very easy for you to turn your back on everything of this world and follow Him. Blessed are those who eat of this bread of Bethlehem Ephratha for they will have Life Eternal.





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