Characters of Christmas: Backwoods Bethlehem – Part 2

Posted: December 9, 2014 in Thoughts on God

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2 ESV)

No guest rooms were available in Bethlehem, so Joseph and Mary were somehow directed to the place where the animals are kept warm and dry. In the backwoods of Bethlehem, though, a stable made of wood—as portrayed in most nativity scenes—would have been highly unlikely.

Dr. John Ankerberg in his article, Questions About the Birth of Jesus, describes the setting:

Most homes were multi-leveled. They had a lower room or cellar that was usually used as a storeroom. In areas like Bethlehem, where there were caves, a cave beneath the house or in back of the house would be used as a store- room for food or supplies. It could also be a place where the family animals would be fed and sheltered at night, protected from the cold, thieves and predators.

Now we have the picture. Small sleepy town. Cavecarved out of the rocky hillside. Stone cold feeding trough filled with hay. What was God thinking?

We can unknowingly and quickly put God in the box of human strategy. Just as God began His rescue mission through Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, He can just as easily shake this world as He moves in communities like:

Northfield, Vermont
Franklin, New Jersey
Hiram, Georgia
Kearney, Nebraska
Condon, Oregon

Never heard of these towns? No worries— God has. God chooses unlikely places as the setting, and unlikely people as the characters in His story.

What about the forgotten streets and neighborhoods of your own community?


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