How is it that this, seemingly, insignificant place was chosen for Jesus to be born?
When the council of heaven convened to consider the advent of Jesus into the earth every detail was carefully planned. How, when and, where was never given to chance. All was by divine appointment.
From the first mention of the virgin birth of Jesus coming into the world, Gen. 3:15, the world was put on notice that the Saviour was coming.
Generational signposts were emblazoned in the minds of God’s people as a constant reminder.
The prophet Isaiah said: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Listen carefully, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will call his name Immanuel (God with us).” Isa. 7:14 AMP
We can look to Daniel for an answer to that question. In the 9th chapter of the book of Daniel it says this:
“While I was still speaking in prayer and extremely exhausted, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and he talked with me and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and wisdom and understanding. the command [to give you an answer] was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly regarded and greatly beloved. Therefore consider the message and begin to understand the [meaning of the] vision. Seventy weeks [of years, or 490 years] have been decreed for your people and for your holy city (Jerusalem), to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make atonement (reconciliation) for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness (right-standing with God), to seal up vision and prophecy and prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”
Dan. 9:20-24 AMP.
He informed me–i.e., gave me understanding (as Daniel 9:2, Daniel 8:16). The angel gave Daniel understanding in the perplexing words of Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 25:1-11; 29:1-10), showing him that what affected his people was a period of seventy weeks that were yet to come, rather than seventy years which were already passed.
The act of anointing as a sign of consecration, though applied to the tabernacle (Exodus 30:26; Exodus 40:9), to the altar (Exodus 40:10), the laver (Exodus 40:11), is never applied to the holy of holies. It is applied most frequently to persons; as to Aaron (Exodus 40:13), to Saul (1 Samuel 10:1), to David (1 Samuel 16:3). The words of Gabriel thus point forward to a time when all iniquity shall be restrained, sin atoned for, and a priest anointed.
Approximately 700 years before the birth of Christ, the exact location where He would be born was identified by the prophet Micah.
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah; From you One shall come forth for Me [who is] to be Ruler in Israel, His goings forth (appearances) are from long ago, From ancient days.” Micah 5:2 AMP.
Bethlehem is a collection of very fertile villages that grows almonds and, more importantly, olives for oil. It’s so fertile because Bethlehem sits on an enormous aquifer, which eventually became the water source for Jerusalem in around 200 BCE. There were so many Jewish pilgrims coming to Jerusalem that the city couldn’t cope. The older water supply was contaminated by the animals slaughtered in the temple. They needed fresh water and this came from Bethlehem.
Bethlehem was built specifically to sit on top of the aquifer and be the defensive military installation guarding the whole infrastructure. It’s a fortress town amongst a series of villages, which is why the Bible talks about the best tasting water coming from Bethlehem.
And David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” 2 Samuel 23:15 AMP.
That’s what Bethlehem is: a place that guards the water. About 200-300 years ago, they built a reservoir. Over the course of history another three gigantic reservoirs were built just to the south of Bethlehem, which became known as Solomon’s Pools.
They’re still there.
Biblical scholars believe Bethlehem, located in the “hill country” of Judah, may be the same as the Biblical Ephrath, which means “fertile”, as there is a reference to it in the Book of Micah Bethlehem Ephratah. The Bible also calls it Beth-Lehem Judah, the New Testament describes it as the “City of David”. It is first mentioned in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) as the place where the matriarch Rachel was buried “by the wayside” (Gen. 48:7). Rachel’s Tomb, the traditional grave site, stands at the entrance to Bethlehem.
According to the Book of Ruth, the valley to the east is where Ruth of Moab gleaned the fields and returned to town with Naomi. It was the home of Jesse, father of King David of Israel, and the site of David’s anointment by the prophet Samuel. It was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his warriors brought him water when he was hiding in the cave of Adullam.
The Hebrew bible, which says that the city of Bethlehem was built up as a fortified city by Rehoboam, identifies it as the city David was from and where he was crowned as the king of Israel. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke identify Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus.
Bethlehem was destroyed by the Emperor Hadrian during the second-century Bar Kokhba revolt, its rebuilding was promoted by Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who commissioned the building of its great Church of the Nativity in 327 CE.
The church was badly damaged by the Samaritans, who sacked it during a revolt in 529, but was rebuilt a century later by Emperor Justinian 1.
The convergence of time and circumstance had convened together on the town of Bethlehem. The Word of God had come to His appointed place and time, as spoken of in the book of Isaiah. The beginning was here. This is when and where God would begin nurturing a personal relationship with His people.
As God began to reveal more of His purpose in the person of Jesus the Christ, all of creation was awakened to bear witness. The heavenly bodies were awakened and the lead star guided the wise men to the savior. The shepherds in the field were awakened by the angel Gabriel that the messiah was born. Previous to these events Mary and Joseph received a visit from the angel Gabriel to assure them that the baby Mary was carrying was indeed the messiah spoken of by the prophets, and to give them his human name.
Nothing was left to chance. All was planned from before time began, even his human name.
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn”. Luke 2:1-7 NKJV
In accordance with the Jewish law, his parents presented the infant Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, where two people in the temple, Simeon and Anna the Prophetess, gave thanks to God who had sent his salvation.
Time and circumstance had followed the passage that the Almighty had fashioned for them, and brought the promised Messiah a safe place to land.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king (Herod the Great), magi (wise men) from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he called together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and [anxiously] asked them where the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) was to be born. They replied to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet [Micah]: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way least among the leaders of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Matthew 2:1-6 AMP.
“Hear my prayer, O LORD! Listen to my cries for help! Don’t ignore my tears. For I am your guest— a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me.” Psalms 39:12; 119:19 NLT
The word “pilgrim” (which comes to us through the French form Pelerin, from the Latin peregrinus) does not originally, or in this place, mean one on a pilgrimage. It implies no journeying, but simply residence in a foreign country. Here it represents the same Greek word which is rendered “strangers” in 1Peter 1:1 but is used in a metaphorical and not literal sense. Though no longer “scattered,” but gathered mercifully once more into “a people,” they were still far from home–unprotected residents in an alien and hostile world, which scrutinized their conduct and was anxious for an opportunity to get rid of them.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:2-4 NKJV
THE HEAVENLY HOPE
When the writer of the book of Hebrews referred to the enduring hope of the patriarchs of old, he took our minds home with these words:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16 NKJV
We have been guaranteed a safe place to land. A homeland.