By Royce Frederick

The town was already rich with history. It had been the home of Ibzan, who judged Israel for seven years, and who had thirty sons and thirty daughters (Judges 12:9-10). It had been the scene of the love story of Ruth and Boaz. Their great-grandson David had kept his father’s sheep at Bethlehem, and there he had been anointed king by Samuel (1 Samuel 16).

But by the time of the prophet Micah, Bethlehem had been relatively unnoticed for about 300 years. Yet, Micah foretold that a glorious event would take place in this “insignificant” town: “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, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

Another 700 years passed without a great incident in Bethlehem. Then, the angel Gabriel announced the coming birth of the Messiah. However, he made the announcement to a young woman who lived in Nazareth, about 104 kilometers (65 miles) north of Bethlehem. It would seem that the prophecy of Micah would fail.

But an event in the city of Rome, about 2240 kilometers (1400 miles) away, sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem at just the right time, fulfilling Micah’s prophecy regarding Bethlehem: “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 cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:17).