Are you ready for a good hypothetical situation? Try this one on for size:
Imagine for a moment that the year is 1108 AD. Columbus has yet to sail the “Ocean Blue,” the church has yet to be reformed, and the world is firmly entrenched in the dark ages. In 1108, (in our imaginary situation) a man named Michael announced that God had shared a message with him that he wanted shared with God’s people. Michael’s prophecy is that at some point in the distant future, a man will be born in the town of Hodgenville, Kentucky who would go on to be one of the most respected Presidents in U.S. History. For 700 years, people might have laughed at Michael for his wild prophecy. How could someone from such a small town (less than 2,000 people today) grow up to be a person of such incredible influence? In 1808, however, a child was born in Hodgenville named Abraham . . . Abraham Lincoln (honestly, I cannot tell a lie) who would grow up to lead the U.S. through a trying Civil War. If you were aware of Michael’s prophecy from 700 years prior, and you were present at the Gettysburg address, you would certainly comment on how Lincoln was a man of great destiny.
Now, journey back with me from the land of make believe to the very real world of the Bible. Sometime in the late 700’s BC, the Lord spoke through the prophet Micah that a Man would one day be born in Bethlehem (a tiny, rural town) who would be the most influential person in the history of the world. Most are familiar with the fact that the prophet Micah under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit correctly prophesied Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Micah’s prophecy, though, is far more than a declaration that Jesus was a man of destiny . . . Micah’s prophecy stated that Jesus was God incarnate. Listen to the words of Micah 5:2:
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, One whose origins are from the distant past.”
Through Micah, God was promising that the Messiah would be born in the small town of Bethlehem, and that (literally in the original Hebrew) this child would be from “days of immeasurable time.” In other words, Jesus Bethlehem birth did not start His life, it only translated Him into a form we could understand. To say that Jesus was from eternity was to say that He was God — the One who has always been. One of the most amazing facts pertaining to the birth of Christ is that on that first Christmas morning, the Immortal One had a BIRTHDAY. This is truly amazing.
But why? Why would the Immortal One have a birth day? Why would the One who was from “immeasurable days” begin to number them? The answers, I believe are clear:
- Jesus was born to help reveal to us (in a language we could understand) what God was really like. John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side; Jesus has made Him known.” Through Jesus birth and life, you and I get to know what God is like by watching how Jesus interacts inside the world in which we live.
- Jesus was born to die. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus came to take the penalty that our sins deserved on His back and die in our place. Without a birthday, there would have been no execution. Without His execution, you and I would have no spiritual rebirth.
Far more than just a hypothetical situation, Jesus reveals His love for us by humbling Himself to a small town birth so that we might know God and live. Micah’s prophecy highlights Jesus human birthplace, but also His eternal existence. This Christmas season when you sing of the little town of Bethlehem, may you be reminded of the fact that the Eternal One has a birthday for you and me.