(Micah 5:2, Luke 2:1-7)
As I began this message I noticed I wrote about Jesus’ birth last year also. More interesting, the title of my very first blog message is “The Coming of Jesus.” That message was very different from what follows here. A friend and brother Tim Hampton recently shared some thoughts concerning the reference from Micah. His words sparked some thoughts in me for this message. Bethlehem was insignificant until that awesome day. It remains so amazing that God chose this way to reveal Himself to mankind. His ways and wisdom are so tremendous. Words fail. I am reminded again that our Father chooses the weak things to confound human wisdom. The little town was overloaded with other travelers so that they had to use the stable and a feeding trough. Nothing glamorous here. Most of us would have been upset and some would have been furious at the circumstances. But that was not the case for Joseph and Mary. They were well aware that something beyond them was happening with the birth of this boy.
It was in the days of Caesar Augustus. He made a decree for a census and taxation so they were required to travel to Bethlehem. This was no small journey, a man with his pregnant wife. I would think Joseph was past his misgivings about taking her as a wife. Did he hear what others in Galilee were saying? The young couple was compelled by earthly circumstances to precisely fulfill a great, heavenly purpose.
I think they did not realize how God was fulfilling His word in detail. The Savior was to be born in Bethlehem and so it was. I see a God working through humility to bring this most awesome revelation of Himself to this world. The shepherds see a multitude of angels. I have heard these were of the lowest ranks of the priesthood, tending sheep that would be used for the temple sacrifice. They did not fully comprehend that they were seeing the fulfillment of all sacrifices, the Lamb of God, in that manger or did they have some understanding? I expect as you read this you are one who has met and walked with Jesus. May we realize how limited our understanding may be. Let every thought be submitted to Christ. May we have His mind. He has a way to fulfill His words and plans. He will reveal Himself in the way and to whom He chooses. And it is always on His schedule.
Mike Bickle leads the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOP-KC). This ministry to many young people was birthed following a heavenly encounter that he experienced. Mike received words concerning properties and other aspects of the ministry. As he walked out the process of the building of IHOP he learned an important truth. He has said when you receive a prophetic word, it is not for you to try to fulfill it, it is given so that you know you belong where you are when you get there. That is my paraphrase. This does not mean we sit passively. We must seek God concerning the vision He gives and walk it out. If He has given the vision, He will bring it to pass. It is for us to follow Him in the steps He leads us to take. And He may use earthly means to fulfill His purpose.
We must know and walk in His ways. In the church, we have learned and heard many things. Some misunderstandings need to be put off if we are to mature into the sons He intends us to be. John wrote (See 1 John) of little children, young men, and fathers. Fathers impart life, they sow seed bringing spiritual conceptions in others. They know how to plant, cultivate, and water the life of the Spirit in others to bring about growth. John was such a man, as were Peter, Paul, and the rest of the 12. I think the same was true of all of the 120 who were so empowered in the upper room. Waiting on the Lord, seeking His face is of such importance. Realize that God chose those shepherds, the lowest of the priesthood of that dying order, to see a multitude of angels. I must interject that Jesus said to the leaders of that order that their house was left to them desolate. It could bring forth no life. But God had a Mary.
Do you think those shepherds kept their story to themselves? Their children and grandchildren heard of the multitude of angels filling the sky! They may have been old men when Jesus died and was raised. Were one or two of them in the upper room? God knows. He by the Spirit chooses what revelation to give to each one of us. It is for us to seek after Him, to believe, to trust and to watch and pray. Nothing is more important than for us to hear those words, and as we pray to be listening. In the darkest, most troubling times, God is still speaking and those who turn to Him will hear. And they will live and be strengthened by the words of Christ.