“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[a] 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.”
The best things come in little packages. Or so my Grandmother, who was barely five foot, used to say! And it’s true that many precious items are very tiny, such as jewellery. I remember one Christmas thinking I would be the lucky recipient of a diamond ring as I had seen no evidence of large parcels, only to have a John Lewis van turn up at the door on 23rd December with a tumble dryer! Hmmm…!
In our world we often think big is better. In ancient times this was true as well. I’ve just been reading about the city of Tyre in Ezekiel, a global trading city not unlike London, Wall Street or Tokyo today. How tempting it is for us to put our trust in our achievements, status and possessions.
In God’s eyes, however, this is definitely not the case. God tells Samuel it is David, the youngest and least of Jesse’s sons, who is to be King of Israel. Seven older sons are rejected as we are told, ‘God does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ David’s humble trust in God is more valuable in His eyes than any pride in himself or his own ability.
So, this Christmas, when you feel small and overwhelmed either by your own personal circumstances or the immensity of world problems such as climate change, conflict, and the suffering of others let’s remember that it was in a dirty stable in tiny Bethlehem that Jesus was born not a palace in an important city. Tyre was ultimately destroyed by Alexander the Great in 322BC. Bethlehem, however, is known the world over.
Let’s rejoice this Christmas that ‘God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong’ (1 Corinthians 1:27) and continues to do so today.