The prophecy was made by Micah (5:2): “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Let us observe two things about this prophecy.
Firstly, it came true roughly 700 years after it was made. That’s a long time. We often forget things after 7 minutes! But God is faithful to His word, and He did not forget. The Lord God had a plan from the very beginning, and He worked that plan throughout the various ages with different individuals and nations.
Note here some of the things which God had in place to bring this all about. Rome was in power, and under Roman rule, people had to return to their “own city” to be registered in the census. Caesar Augustus made a decree that the inhabitants of the empire be registered. Joseph was of the house of David whose city was Bethlehem. Mary was with Child, carrying the Christ in her womb and very near to giving birth. Joseph complied with the decree. This is like herding seven cats in a field full of mice! We seldom pause to consider the marvelous capacity of God to bring together countless elements to accomplish His will.
Secondly, it was “little” Bethlehem which was favored with the birth of the “ruler in Israel,” none other than the Christ. Bethlehem which sat about five miles away in the shadow of majestic Jerusalem which housed the kings of Israel and the very temple of God. Time and again, we see God favoring the small and the lowly. David himself was the eighth son of Jesse whom he had not even bothered to bring into the house for Samuel to consider. Among God’s prophets were farmers, shepherds and slaves. Jesus chose fishermen, a tax collector and a rebel as apostles.
God will do what God will do. He will often surprise us with how He does it, but He will always get it done.