Great and Wonderful Promises!
Text: Matthew 2:1-23
The chief priests and scribes knew their Scriptures. However, mere knowledge would not go very far and certainly did not help them much! They cited the Scriptures, but failed to be excited about the truths contained therein. Let us take time to read the text they cited again.
“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.”
What great and wonderful promises these are! How could anyone not be fascinated and thrilled by these words? Two wonderful promises stand out:
1. The Promise of a Ruler.
2. The Promise of a Shepherd for Israel.
THE FULL PROPHETIC TEXT EXAMINED
The chief priests and scribes only cited the place where the Messiah would be born! Let us take time to examine the text in question. Our understanding would be that much more enhanced when we look at the Scriptures in greater depth.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the
thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
1. Two Bethlehems
It is interesting to note that the chief priests and scribes read this text and connected it to the birth-place of the Messiah. The text itself does not use the word “Messiah”. This suggests to us that these religious experts of Israel knew their Scriptures quite well!
However, they did not go far enough. There were two towns with the same name. Bethlehem Ephrathah was the name of the specific little village where the Messiah would be born. This was the smaller of the two Bethlehems. The focal point of interest should not have been the physical town, but the Identity of the promised Ruler!
2. The Divine and Eternal Origin of the Messianic Ruler
He was described as One “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting”. This Ruler was obviously going to be more than just an ordinary person! What could this prophecy be, but that the Messiah, the Christ would be of Divine origin!
The chief priests and scribes obviously had difficulty with this text from Micah! There would have been sharp differences of opinion concerning the interpretation of this text. It would have taken great faith and insight on the part of the chief priests and scribes to have this comprehension and appreciation of the Origin of the Messianic Ruler. Their knowledge did not extend far enough to have this spiritual insight.
THE GREATNESS OF THE MESSIAH
Let us examine what Micah wrote further concerning this Ruler that would come from Bethlehem.
“And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the Name of the Lord
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth.”
1. The Work of the Messiah
Micah wrote about the distinctive ministry that the Messiah would have in Israel when He finally came to fulfil this prophetic promise.
a) He would feed the flock of Israel.
This would be a reference to His teaching ministry.
b) He would display special strength from the Lord.
The ministry of the Messiah would be most demanding in every sense of the word. He would need special strength from the Lord indeed.
c) He would proclaim the majesty of the Name of the Lord His God.
Jesus would indeed proclaim to Israel the glorious Name of His Father.
2. The Success of the Messiah
The Messiah would be successful! There would be people who would respond to Him, and they would abide! He would attain to greatness to the ends of the earth!
READING THE WORD OF GOD WITH FAITH
The problem of unbelief was an age-old problem in Israel. We are reminded of the seriousness of the problem of unbelief in a text found in the book of Hebrews.
“For indeed the Gospel was preached to us as
well as to them; but the word which they heard
did not profit them, not being mixed with faith
in those who heard it.”
The chief priests and scribes apparently did not read the Scriptures with the kind of faith that would have caused the Word of God to come alive to them. Do we read the Scriptures with faith?