Day 6

The Glory of Little Bethlehem

from the Advent 2017: Joy to the World reading plan


Micah 5:2-6, Numbers 24:17-18, Luke 2:4, John 7:40-44, John 10:11-18

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Micah 5:2-6, Numbers 24:17-18, Luke 2:4, John 7:40-44, John 10:11-18

The Christian life, it seems, is a constant trading in of “big” things for seemingly “small” ones.

We exchange the bravado of pride for the posture of humility.
We surrender the booming voice of self for the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit.

Each Christmas season highlights this tension. We are drawn to the bigger and the better: bigger gifts, bigger budgets, bigger light displays. And yet, since the very first Christmas, Christ has compelled us to look away from the “big stuff” that seems so significant. Quietly, He invites us to strain our eyes and bow our hearts to see the wonder of the small. But this invitation did not start with the tiny baby in the tiny manger. God was attentive to making sure every detail of His arrival was understated “from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).

Here, in Micah 5, we find God’s people under attack and in distress (v.1). Any small glimmer of hope becomes momentous when our lives are under siege. We latch on to any news that better days are ahead when the day we’re in the midst of threatens to overtake us. So we can surely celebrate with the citizens of Zion because as enemies surrounded them, hope started to spark.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler of Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient of days” (v.2).

Look around. If we hand-picked the details of the Christmas story, we’d prioritize grand above modest, spectacular above common, big above small. We’d likely dismiss Mary and Joseph as too unremarkable, the stable as too drab, and Bethlehem as too small and seemingly insignificant. Yet, as we trace God’s hand throughout all of Scripture, it’s clear God does not assign value according to our scale.

This fixation with the small stuff was as confusing to the people who encountered Jesus as it often is for us. In the Gospel of John, we find folks bickering over Micah’s prophecy (John 7:40-44). They knew the Messiah would come from the the hometown of David, but because mankind tends to have a collective obsession with bigger, shinier things, the point missed its mark in their hearts.

Bethlehem wasn’t chosen as the epicenter for redemption because David made it famous. It was chosen for its smallness.

Bethlehem was a small, sleepy town, handpicked by God to incubate a spark of hope until it burst into flames. In the same way, our own smallness points to the greatness of God. There is nothing we can do about our brokenness. Yet, like Bethlehem, our sin works like an epicenter for hope when we trade it in for the humongous grace God offers.

When we exchange our obsession with making all things bigger and better, we are free to see that the promise delivered to God’s people through Micah is ours to hold on to this Christmas.

“And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.”
– Micah 5:4

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Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (102)

102 thoughts on "The Glory of Little Bethlehem"

  1. Shawna Clayton says:

    I also needed this. I’m about to graduate from grad school with basically no money in a small town. It’s hard to feel like I cannot match the greatness or value of what is given to me, even when I know it comes out of purely generous hearts. It’s hard not to want to be able to reciprocate those gifts! But circumstances force me to remember that small things can be beautiful too. God still looks at the heart, so how can we emulate that in what we give to others this season??

  2. Anna says:

    Thank you for the truth is this scripture today. I needed this reminder.

  3. Kelsey Bender says:

    I really needed this! I tried very hard to be simple this Christmas and only got what was necessary and useful for my family and friends. It’s so commercialized now and although I partake in gift giving, I’m primarily excited for my Christmas service. I miscarried in June and my church is holding a service for those grieving loved ones this season. All I’ve wanted as a gift was my son, however, he is where he needs to be. With Him. Through this holiday season, I know that the best gift I may receive is the hopefulness that my son is being taken care of. ❤️

    1. Lisa C says:

      Kelsey, I hope that the service at your church brought some peace. I miscarried just before Christmas 2 years ago and it was such a difficult holiday. Although I knew my son was with Jesus, I missed him terribly and wanted him here with us. Praying that you will draw near to the Comforter in your grief and that He will provide hope, healing and peace.

  4. Jessica says:

    Such a Rich post Erin! Thank you for the encouragement and challenge to see things through Gods eyes and not strain for the bigger things that are not according to Him. So good!

  5. Sam says:

    Just as Bethlehem is small, so are we. My town is also small, a small girl from a small town and yet, God uses me. He’s taken this shy, anxious girl and lead people to Him. Once at camp I was set to give my testimony at campfire, something I’d done many times before. But this time when went to do up my draft I shrunk, words left me and some major spiritual warfare ensued. I eventually got it written down and was ready as I could be. When it came time for me to speak, I’d already cried most of the day and campfire away. A friend stood up with me as emotional support and in that moment of looking at all the kids and them looking back at me, I never felt so small. I was completely minuscule. BUT God still used me, He gave me words to speak and the kids learned from it. They saw God using a small, shaking, scared person who couldn’t even speak without squeezing the life out of her friend’s hand. But I knew that feeling small was precisely why I needed to speak. My glimmer of hope was my friend beside me, not leaving, holding my hand it was showing those kids that “camp family” isn’t just some label we use cause it sounds good. In retrospect I imagine Bethlehem felt similarly, small and seemingly unimportant but set to change the world, did I change the world with my testimony? no definitely not but campers did encounter God and how small I felt was not lost on them.

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