But you, O Bethlehem Eprathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler will come from you, one whose origin is from the distant past. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last your countrymen will return from exile to their own land. 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. (NLT)
O little town of Bethlehem. We have sung the song for years around Christmas. I doubt we really understand how outrageous God's plan is from a human perspective. Bethlehem was nothing. It was a tiny little village. It was there that God promised to raise up a great ruler. Micah says his origins are from the distant past. That is a bit of an understatement. His origins are from time immemorial. He has no origin. He has always been. This ruler is the incarnate word of God that John talks about in his gospel. He is fully God. Micah looks forward to the deliverance of the people from exile, but the exile that God is going to deliver his people is so much more important. We are born into exile from God. We are alienated. We were not made for this world. We were made for another. We are strangers in a strange land. However, we lack the ability to bring ourselves out of exile. We are trapped in our own condition. God in his holiness can not allow us into his presence. God, in his love, sent a ruler to the little town of Bethlehem. This ruler will bring us out of exile. He will not only show us the way to the Father, he will be the WAY to the Father. He desires to lead us like a Shepherd. He will be highly honored around the world. The Bible says that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. Jesus also said if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself. He is highly honored in almost every corner of the world. There are believers in nearly every country in the world. He desires to draw everyone out of exile. The apostle Paul says that it is the desire of God that none should perish. God will not force anyone unto himself. He is a God who allows our free will. We must draw to him and seek his reconciliation. He provided that reconciliation through a humble little child born in a tiny insignificant town. That child would grow to be a man, and be crucified for the sins of the world. We are merely called to faith in the atoning work of this great ruler, this Jesus Christ.