O Little Town of Bethlehem
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 4:00 PM
BATTLE MOUNTAIN - On Dec. 25 we again commemorate the birth of Christ. The first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke have the record. Joseph was betrothed (engaged) to his bride to be, but before their wedding, and the consummation of their marriage, Mary was found to be with child.
Joseph had about decided to "put her away" (divorce, or break the engagement) when the angel of the Lord assured him that she had not sinned, but that this was a miracle of God.
The angel then said, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus (which means 'Jehovah saves'), for He shall save His people from their sins." Isaiah, the prophet, said, "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
King Herod was on the throne, and was troubled by the news of the birth of the King of the Jews, for he feared any rivals. So he asked the religious leaders where He was to be born, and was told that it was in Bethlehem.
He pretended he wanted to go and worship Him but really planned to destroy Him. There are still many pretenders in the world. Jesus said there would be many who would prophecy in His name, even cast out demons, and do many wonderful works. But on judgment day He will say: "I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity."
Bethlehem was not only the birthplace of Jesus, but of other important events recorded in Scripture. Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob, and mother of Joseph, died in childbirth and was buried at Bethlehem.
Then, there is Ruth, the young Moabitess widow who met her future husband at Bethlehem while she was gleaning in the fields to provide food for she and her mother-in-law. As a result, she became the great grandmother of King David; and though she herself was not a Jew, was in the ancestry of Jesus Christ.
Did you know that Jesus was born in a smelly old stable for animals? Did he have any wealth or fame? No, for He was the carpenter's son. Later, during His ministry, He said, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head."
He was falsely accused of many things, including blasphemy, because He claimed to be the Son of God. He even said, "He that has seen Me has seen the Father." And, "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man can come to the Father, except by Me." These are clear statements that no one can misunderstand.
Peter wrote, "He did no sin, and neither was guile found in His mouth." He could challenge his enemies with, "Which of you convinces me of sin." And they could not answer. But they hated Him. Why did they hate Him? He said, the world hates Me "because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil." The world hates a reprover. Columnist Thomas So well said, "If you want to help people, tell them the truth. If you want to help yourself, tell them what they want to hear."
When God makes an all-important announcement-the birth of Christ, he bypasses the "big shots" of this world, and announces it to the lowly shepherds. I knew a man some years ago who had been a sheepherder. Someone spoke to him of Christ, and he answered, "I don't have time for that." He was told, "You'll have time to die." This undesirable fact brought him to repentance, and faith in Christ.
A year ago on Dec. 19, a lady we knew since she was in her teens called us and talked for an hour. She said that the happiest day of her life was the day that she placed her trust in Christ.
I remembered it as though it were yesterday, though nearly 50 years had passed. She said that she loved Psalm 107, which begins, "Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever." Four times the Psalm says, "Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men."
It was such an encouraging visit on the phone, but neither we, nor she, knew that in three days she would be ushered into the presence of Christ Whom she loved.
Bob Beetler is a resident of Battle Mountain.