NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies For Life curriculum.
Bible Passages: Micah 5:2-5a; Matthew 1-11
Discussion Question: What leaders have you known who really cared for their people?
Food for Thought by Rob Wilton:
Before our phones had cameras, we had to buy film for our cameras. And then we paid someone to develop the film into photographs. George Eastman was the man who made cameras every household could afford. The New York Times said of him, “He should be the most thanked man in the world.” The Times wrote that, not because of his camera and film, but because of his business practices running Eastman Kodak.
- He reduced the work hours of his employees.
- He established a retirement plan and life insurance for his employees.
- He hired women.
- He hired the disabled.
Many companies offer similar benefits today, but back then it had never been done before. No one thought in terms of such benefits for employees, but Eastman did. George Eastman’s attitude toward others is certainly commendable, but it pales in comparison to Jesus’ care for His people. As our loving Shepherd, Jesus shows His love in how He leads and cares for us.
We often associate prophets with messages of warning and condemnation. To be sure, Micah delivered his share of such messages, but he also proclaimed hope to both Judah and Israel. The people of God had been led by a string of weak leaders, and the people were longing for hope and peace. Micah pointed to a wholly different and unique ruler who would bring the hope and peace they desired.
This ruler would come from “Bethlehem Ephrathah.” While Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David (1 Samuel 16:1), it now seemed to be an insignificant place for a ruler to be born, especially when compared to the great city of Jerusalem only five miles away. The greatest king of the Old Testament had been born in Bethlehem, and Jesus, the King of kings, would be born there as well.
Micah’s prophecy about Jesus’ birthplace tells us a lot about the kind of ruler he would be. “He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of the Lord” (v. 4). To stand means He will assume the role of King. Even the best of rulers with the best intentions can fail, but this King would rule “in the strength of the Lord.” The King’s power and majesty would come from God Himself.
The King would not only rule powerfully and perfectly, but He would also rule as a Shepherd. Other passages refer to God as a Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:11-16), but the most well-known is Psalm 23. In this psalm, David paints a picture of God as a shepherd who perfectly provides, protects and guides.
Fast forward hundreds of years. As word began to spread of another king, King Herod and all the people in Jerusalem were “deeply disturbed.” Herod asked the Jewish religious leaders where the Messiah was to be born, and they told him of Micah’s prophecy. If the “king of the Jews” had come into the world, He could not be ignored. All who heard the report needed to make a choice: Would they accept this miraculous child as the long-awaited Messiah and King of the Jews, or would they reject Him?
His position as King of kings demands a response from us too. We will either surrender to His lordship, or we reject Him.
Bible Studies for Life
Bible Studies for Life connects the Bible to life for adults, students and kids. Bible Studies for Life helps individuals and groups know God’s Word through trustworthy content, creates biblical community through engaging and conversational group studies, and helps people engage the culture missionally by unpacking what the Bible says about real-life issues. More information can be found at biblestudiesforlife.com.
Rob Wilton is lead pastor of the Pittsburgh location of The Vintage Church.