What are you hoping for this Christmas?
As a child, I can remember the glorious day when the JC Penny Christmas catalog came in the mail! Of course it was long before Amazon.com or EBay had ever been thought of. I’m actually feeling quite old as I write this, because we’d have to wait until that glossy book that weighed a ton got to our doorstep before we started dreaming and hoping for what we might ask for that year. I remember my brother and me spending hours, combing through that catalog, dog-earing pages, circling and highlighting, looking for the amazing toys that we’d put on our Christmas lists.
And then after the combing and dog-earing and the listing came the waiting and the watching and the hoping. What long days December used to have! Finally, on Christmas morning, we’d awaken before dawn, excited to see our hopes realized. Sometimes we got exactly what we wished for. Sometimes we didn’t. And sometimes it was even better than we could have imagined.
Micah was a prophet who lived around the same time as Isaiah. His book in the Old Testament is only a few chapters long, but in it he had some pretty tough things to say to God’s people, who were living sinful lives. And yet Micah’s message was also a prevailing message of hope. He prophesied about a coming Savior, a gift to the world…
Micah 5:2-5a “‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’” Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace…”
Micah proclaimed a Savior to come. It gave the people of God hope, but not right away. That hope had to carry God’s people through 700 long years until Jesus came. And He came, to the small town of Bethlehem, just like Micah had said. He came, born of a woman, just like Micah had said. And He has stood as a Shepherd to His flock, in strength and majesty… He has brought peace and strength and stability to those who trust in Him, to those who hope in Him…
Jesus is a gift that is so much better than Micah, or any of us, could have imagined!