As I related to those who were with us yesterday at Tri-State Fellowship, I’m going to share with you three weeks of devotionals written by associates at Dallas Theological Seminary. There will be a total of 15 short writings – many by people I’ve known over the years.
This first writing really picks up on the theme of our sermon series: “Expectations: Surpassing Humble Beginnings.” Our holiday series looks at a variety of Bible characters (including Jesus) who were born in humble circumstances, but who accomplished great things through God’s power.
This first writer – Josh Bleeker – directs the DTS extension program in Washington, D.C. I don’t know him personally, though probably I should … not only because of the DTS and nearby connection, but because I have many cousins of this name.
A World Leader from a Wee Little Town
“‘As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah—from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past.’” (Micah 5:2, NET)
His parents labored through poverty, drifting through small towns. After graduating from West Point, the Army twice denied his request to assume a post overseas. If you’re looking for power, you should look elsewhere.
However, during WWII, Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower ascended to supreme allied commander in Europe with five-star general status and, after the war, to President of the United States from 1953–1961. His military and political savvy helped defeat Hitler and made him arguably the most powerful head of state in the world.
Ike was born in Denison, Texas, and raised in Abilene, Kansas. Both towns slumber in the shadow of substantially more powerful neighbors. Dallas dwarfs Denison, as does Kansas City to Abilene. Yet, their citizen changed the world.
Relatively speaking, Jerusalem dwarfs Bethlehem. If Judah was planning a power play in Micah’s day, they’d hardly start there. It’s as quaint as Denison. And as Nathanael asked about another small town in Jesus’ story, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
It’s all too much to believe except for a small detail. King David, the hero who changed the nation of Israel, hailed from Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:12). Then the Lord promised another king, a righteous and just one. Certainly, Judah rejoiced at this news, for she suffered under perverse and crooked leaders (Micah 3:1–4, 9–12). Yet, the Descendant of David would change the nation and the world.
Another key detail shapes the vision of Bethlehem’s citizen extraordinaire: His “origins are in the distant past.” Christ’s claim on changing the world resides in eternity, not geography. And He calls us into His worldwide service, based not on our hometown, but on hope in Him alone.