A little more than 2,000 years ago, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4, NKJV). It was exactly the right time, as predicted by Daniel (cf. 9:25) and confirmed by Jesus (cf. Luke 19:41-44).
It was also the right place—Bethlehem, six miles south of Jerusalem. Seven hundred years earlier, Micah wrote:
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. (Mic. 5:2)
The time was right, the place was right, and the circumstances were right. It was not to the high and mighty in Israel that the first coming—the incarnation—of Messiah/Christ was celebrated by “a multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:13) in heaven and on earth. It was to a group of lowly “shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).
We ended last time by thinking how the Messiah would be the son of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—and Judah (see Matt. 1:2-3; Lk. 3:33; Heb. 7:14; Rev. 5:5).
Jacob made an astounding and significant prophecy regarding his son Judah, and the greatest descendant who would come through his lineage—giving us one of the earliest glimpses into the Messiah’s future reign as king, “in the last days” (Gen. 49:1).1
As Jacob was blessing his sons in Gen. 49:10, he stated regarding Leah’s fourth son:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
I cannot remember a time in my life when I had not memorized this verse. It was one of many that my classmates and I learned to say verbatim each year in Lutheran grade school in preparation for the annual Christmas Eve services.
Spurgeon delivered this sermon on Lord’s-Day morning, December 20th, 1868 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)
We have nearly arrived at the great merry-making season of the year. On Christmas-day we shall find all the world in England enjoying themselves with all the good cheer which they can afford. Servants of God, you who have the largest share in the person of him who was born at Bethlehem, I invite you to the best of all Christmas fare—to nobler food than makes the table groan—bread from heaven, food for your spirit. Behold, how rich and how abundant are the provisions which God has made for the high festival which he would have his servants keep, not now and then, but all the days of their lives!