Have you heard of Ulm? Probably not. Ulm is a city in the German state of Baden-Württemberg about two hours’ drive west of Munich. It is the birthplace of Time magazine’s most influential person of the 20th century – Albert Einstein.
You’ve probably heard of the place in today’s Bible passage or sung about it in the Christmas carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’.
‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans 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.’ Micah 5 verse 2 (NIV)
Did you know there are two Bethlehems in the Bible? In Joshua 19:15, we read of the other Bethlehem in the land assigned to the tribe of Zebulun. Bethlehem in Judah was the birthplace of Naomi whose daughter-in-law Ruth was the grandmother of King David. David was born in Bethlehem. This verse points to another from Bethlehem who will rule over Israel – Jesus.
What’s in a name? Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread’ and Ephrathah means ‘fruitful’. In ancient times, the land around Bethlehem was fertile. Could Jesus be linking back to his birthplace in John’s gospel?
Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ John 6 verse 35 (NIV)
Let’s read on in Micah chapter 5.
‘He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.’ Micah 5 verse 4 (NIV)
And from John’s gospel:
‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’ John 10 v 11(NIV)
Today’s verses from Micah and John’s gospel remind us we find provision in and through Jesus – He meets our needs. We find protection from Jesus, the good shepherd, who guides and protects us. In these uncertain times, Jesus brings us security and peace.
Bethlehem Ephrathah, a once small but significant town southwest of Jerusalem, is now known throughout the world. It’s most famous son, Jesus is too.
Do you feel small and insignificant? At times I do. As Christians, our significance is not so much in what we do but who we are. Following Jesus is the greatest thing we can do, and through Him, we can do great things.
King Jesus, thank you for being our provider and our protector. In you, we find our significance, security and peace. Through you we can do great things. AMEN
Graham Crosbie works in IT for a global Christian relief and development agency. He serves on the leadership team of Hope Church Newham.