In Bethlehem we see how God’s plan of salvation was composed of many links in an unbreakable chain of grace. We see one link in the chain when, more than three thousand years ago, two women came to Bethlehem. One was old, the other young. One was a native of this Jewish town, the other, her daughter-in-law, was a foreigner from Moab. Though an outsider from a pagan land, Ruth not only was accepted by the Jewish community, but she married a Hebrew man named Boaz, for she too had come to trust in the Lord (Ruth 2:12).
Another link in the chain appeared some years later, when the Lord directed the prophet Samuel to go to Bethlehem and speak to the grandson of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:21–22; 1 Sam. 16:1). This man had several sons, and God led His prophet to anoint the youngest of them, David. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Ruth’s great-grandson David, and he became the champion of Israel and the father of a dynasty of kings by divine covenant.
It seemed that God’s chain of promise was shattered when, after centuries of disobedience, the royal line of David fell under God’s judgment. However, long before the son of David went into exile in Babylon, the prophet Micah foretold that from Bethlehem would come a “ruler in Israel,” not a mere man, but an eternal Lord whose activities were “from everlasting,” and who would shepherd His people “in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Lord his God,” and whose kingdom would extend “unto the ends of the earth” (Mic. 5:2, 4).
Seven centuries after Micah penned those words, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and an angel announced to shepherds nearby, “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). It is amazing that this village even existed after so many years of war and hardship. It is even more amazing to consider that the reason Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem is because of a decree from a pagan emperor, Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1).
When today we are tempted to doubt that God works all things for good, let us remember how precisely He fulfilled His purpose to bring His Son into the world in the little town of Bethlehem. We can wait for the coming of His kingdom with absolute confidence, for God’s plan did not fail in the past, and cannot fail in the future. The child of Bethlehem will reign. And we can be sure that even the seemingly random events of our day are exactly what God has planned to bring Christ’s kingdom to all the nations, and one day with visible glory.