Some places are more significant to us than others.
Bethlehem was one of those places to Israel. Bethlehem had form when it comes to leaders. It turns up repeatedly in the book of Judges. But most significantly, Bethlehem was the meeting place and home of Ruth and Boaz, and their son Obed, grandfather to great king David. Bethlehem was David’s home town. It is God’s covenant with David, a promise of an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam 7), that leads to Christ being born in Bethlehem. A promise, given 1,000 years before the birth of Christ, kept by God.
To the tyrannical pretender Herod comes the news of the birth of the king of the Jews. Herod, it seems, doesn’t have to think long before realising this King is the long-promised Messiah, Israel’s Saviour. And the chief priests and teachers of the law easily pinpoint the birthplace. God had spoken through Micah 700 years previously: the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
The nature of Christ’s leadership is revealed by God through Micah. He would “shepherd my people Israel”. After the failure and deterioration of the monarchy in Israel, salvation comes as a nation returns to God through his appointed Messiah, Jesus.
With leadership under such pressure, it is surely a moment to be on our knees asking the Saviour of the world to intervene, for only Jesus can bring the salvation and transformation we and our suffering world so deeply need.