light the prophets candle again. now also light another- the Bethlehem candle!
the prophecies spoke of hope, the promised salvation of the world. As we light the Bethlehem candle lets think of the preparing our hearts for the coming Messiah.
Bethlehem is literally named “the house of bread”. We know from John 6 that Jesus is the bread of life and anyone who trusts in him will never be hungry again.
Away from Bethlehem: the book of Ruth begins with
in the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him.
Think of that. A famine in the “house of bread”. this famine led Elimelech and family away from the town of Bethlehem. Elimelech and his sons died and the widows were left by themselves. Ruth, moabite daughter in law, pledged herself to her mother in law, and her God, the God of Israel. “Your people will be my people, and your God, my God, ” she said.
The widows were eventually taken care of by a family (or kinsman) redeemer Boaz. Boaz and Ruth were the parents of Obed, who was the father of Jesse. and Jesse was the father of David. David was the runt of the family. Like Cinderella, he wasnt even offered as a choice when the priest Samuel came looking for a king for Israel. But God wasn’t satisfied.
the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”- 1 Sam 16
When Samuel was eventually presented with David he saw the youngest son, a scrawny, dirty shepherd, who was later know as King David, the man after God’s own heart.
To Bethlehem: we read in the gospels that years later, a census divinely timed drew Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the house of Bread, the city of David… the city where micah had prophesied
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel,
whose origins are in the distant past,
will come from you on my behalf.
Celebrating Bethlehem: during this advent season the journey to Bethlehem calls us to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus. Isaiah many, many, years before told about the forerunner before the coming of the Messiah. The disciple John wrote of John the Baptist as this forerunner.
1:23 John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’” Then the Pharisees who had been sent asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize? John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. 27 Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.”
How can we prepare our hearts? John the baptist called people to be baptized with water as repentance of their sin. They had not yet received the baptism Jesus offered. During this season of the year we can prepare our hearts by repentance and obedience. Some verses to consider…
repent of our sins : Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord- Acts 3
love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and with all your strength- most important commandment- Deuteronomy and John 14
love your neighbor as yourself- John 14
obey–“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. 1 Sam 15
control your thoughts– Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praise worthy, think about such things. Phil 4