Isaiah 45:17

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 45:17

“Israel has been saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated to all eternity.” – Isaiah 45.17

In some ways this passage of scripture represents a peak both of theological and of poetic intensity. It brings together the themes of the absolutely unique divinity of Yahweh, the God of Israel as well as the unity of mankind under the sovereignty of Yahweh. The prophet sees a vision not shown in earlier writings of the Old Testament. The poem is formed of two utterances of Yahweh, the first being in verse 14, and then again in 18.

First, let us look at the first one. “Thus says the LORD, The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush And the Sabeans, men of stature, Will come over to you and will be yours; They will walk behind you; they will come over in chains and will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you: Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.” Isaiah 45:14.  These are three nations that were enemies of Israel and whom God gave to Israel. “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.” Isaiah 43:3. It basically says in this verse that Egypt was given ‘as a ransom’  for Israel, meaning God sacrificed the Egyptians instead of the Israelites; he destroyed the firstborn of Egypt, and saved Israel his firstborn; he drowned the Egyptians in the Red sea, when the Israelites passed safely through it; and the destruction of Israel was to make way for the salvation of Israel, and so said to be a ransom for them. We see this idea in the Book of Proverbs where the author states, “The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place.” Proverbs 11:8. Also, in verse Isaiah 45:14 it says, “They will walk behind you; they will come over in chains and will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you: Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.” Isaiah 45:14. This does not mean they will bow down to Israel but to the true God, Yahweh, whom they will confess is the only true God.

And therefore Isaiah states the incredible prophecy in our focus verse. “Israel has been saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity.” Isaiah 45:17. This verse is clearly not speaking of the nation of Israel, but the true, spiritual Israel. The apostle Paul puts it this way. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2:28-29.  Those of any nation who give themselves over to the true God of Israel is of Israel and a true Jew. And likewise, anyone who is Jewish of nationality who does not serve the true God of Israel is not a true Jew.

Now, we must all look and see who we are and whom we serve. We can claim all we want that we are a Christian, but it is not true if we are not a Christian inwardly; serving our Lord with everything we are. It is just like we cannot claim to love someone and still speak badly of them when they are not around.  Our devotion to God is not shown by what we say, but by who we truly are. If He is our Lord and our God, we will act accordingly. We who are true Christians must “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. And also, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2. Let us not fall into the same trap as many Israelites did by simply claiming to follow God. Let’s actually follow Him by doing the following. “Jesus answered, the most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. And if we do this, then we show we truly are a Christian and can look forward to an eternally glorious future. We mat stumble, however, if we confess and repent, we show our heart, and can also look forward to this eternal life.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Isaiah 31:6

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 31:6

“Return to Him from whom you have deeply defected, O sons of Israel.” – Isaiah 31:6  

Isaiah is prophesying about Judah coming under attack by Sennacherib and the Assyrian empire. And what he was telling them was that there was a faction that was seeking help from Egypt rather than seeking Jehovah their God. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!” Isaiah 31:1. In doing this, Isaiah confronted Judah with two sins: the sin of trusting in Egypt and their military might, and the sin of not looking to the Holy One of Israel. Judah felt they had a reason to trust in chariots because they are many. And they felt they had a reason to trust in horsemen because they are very strong. But they couldn’t seem to find a reason to trust in the LORD. But next he declares God is able. “Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, and does not retract His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers, And against the help of the workers of iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God, And their horses are flesh and not spirit; so the LORD will stretch out His hand, and he who helps will stumble and he who is helped will fall, and all of them will come to an end together.” Isaiah 31:2-3. He states here two things. First, that God is wise and can bring disaster on His foes, and that the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are merely creatures of flesh and not spiritual, and they will not be victorious if they rely on them.

Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “For thus says the LORD to me, as the lion or the young lion growls over his prey, against which a band of shepherds is called out, Will not be terrified at their voice, nor disturbed at their noise, so will the LORD of hosts come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill. Like flying birds so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it.” Isaiah 31:4-5. Judah’s trust in Egypt to protect them against the Assyrian invasion was both foolish and unnecessary. God would protect them, as a lion growls over its prey when a shepherd comes to it, whether Judah trusts Him or not. And of a mother bird protecting her young. So, God will defend Jerusalem with the ferocity of a lion, and also with the tender care of a bird. The combination of the two images is powerful.

And because of the message God gave to Isaiah, we read in our focus verse this message to Judah, “Return to Him from whom you have deeply defected, O sons of Israel.” Isaiah 31:6. God is calling them to return to Him, to trust in Him rather than in Egypt or anything else. Because of how great God is and because of how terrible the alternatives to serving Him are, they should feel compelled to return to Him. They should repent of their idolatry, destroy their idols, repent, and give themselves to God.

And the reason is seen in the last three verses of chapter thirty-one. “For in that day every man will cast away his silver idols and his gold idols, which your hands have made as a sin. And the Assyrian will fall by a sword not of man, And a sword not of man will devour him. So, he will not escape the sword, And his young men will become forced laborers. And his rock will pass away because of panic, And his princes will be terrified at the standard, declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 31:7-9. Then Assyria will fall. And this was fulfilled exactly as prophesied. The Assyrian army devastated almost the entire land of Judah, and camped on the outskirts of Jerusalem, waiting to conquer the nation by defeating the capital city. And in 2 Kings we read of this battle. “Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. And it came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place.” 2 Kings 19:35-37.  

Going through hard times is difficult. Sometimes we wonder just how we will make it through. But it is important to remember that God is the one we should go to for our help and support. Granted, friends and family will be there also, but we must rely on Him predominantly to bring us through. And many times He will use friends and family in our support and solution. But we must remember He is our primary helper. And who knows who and what He will use to provide us with victory.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Judges 21:25

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Judges 21:25  

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:25  

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, Joshua led them into the promised land conquering as much as ninety percent of the land given to them by God, dividing it among the tribes and disbanding the great army he had assembled. Each person went back to his own tribe. The center point of Jewish life began to dissipate. Instead of one Jewish people there were twelve tribes who had a loose allegiance to each other. And when Joshua and his generation died, so did the Israelites’ knowledge of God. “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10. They began worshipping other gods, the gods of the neighboring nations. “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” Judges 2:11-12.

So the Lord handed them over to their enemies, “I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not.  So the LORD left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua.” Judges 2:21-23. God did not destroy the nations around them but used them in order that they may see their own response. And every time one of the judges died, Israel went astray, returning to their sinful practices and idolatry. It was a constant cycle of sin and deliverance. Israel rebels. God disciplines them. Israel repents. God delivers them.

Now, during this time, there was no king to rule over all of Israel, there were the Judges which lead the people. Yet the people would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the LORD’s commands. Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

Throughout the Book of Judges, we see a repeated pattern. Using chapter three as an example, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.” Judges 3:7-9. Essentially, the people of Israel sinned in the sight of God, God sent a nation against them to serve them, then the people cried out to God to help them, and then the Lord raises a deliverer to save them from their enemy. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:2-3.

We need to be careful that we do not fall into the same pattern as the Israelites; when we are doing good we fall into sin, then when we cry out to God and He delivers us, then we do it all again. We must not have times where we do what we consider right in our own eyes but are sin in His. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:2-3. We must set our eyes on what God deems right, not necessarily what we deem right, for His view is far more important and accurate than ours. As the writer of Proverbs wrote, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Judges 7:2

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Judges 7:2

“And the LORD said to Gideon, the people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.'” – Judges 7:2  

In the Book of Judges, we see many times when God’s people went against God’s ways. One of those times God gave them over to Midian for seven years. “And the power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.” Judges 6:2. And they kept them weak by destroying their crops. “So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it.“ Judges 6:4-5. After a time, they went to God for help. “So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.” Judges 6:6.

God then calls Gideon. “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” Judges 6:12. But Gideon answered the angel saying, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian. And the LORD looked at him and said, Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you? And he said to Him, O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house. But the LORD said to him, Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” Judges 6:13-16. Gideon saw himself as not worthy and incapable of being a warrior. And note God’s response to Gideon’s humility, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”

Then the Lord comes to Gideon and says, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful, saying, My own power has delivered me.” Judges 7:2. At first, God says there were too many people, and they would take the credit which was deserved by God alone. So God says, “Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead. So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.” Judges 7:3. God then tells Gideon again there were too many men. “Then the LORD said to Gideon, The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, This one shall go with you, he shall go with you; but every one of whom I say to you, This one shall not go with you, he shall not go. So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.” Judges 7:4-5. Now, after all this, there were 300 men selected to go out. “Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. And the LORD said to Gideon, I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.” Judges 7:6-7. And the three hundred, led by Gideon, blew 300 trumpets. “And when they blew 300 trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.” Judges 7:22. 

There were around 135,000 men of Midian whom Gideon, with 300 men, went up against. And they did not chase the Midian army, but the Midian soldiers ran away because of the fear put in them by God.  And we have nothing to fear as well. Moses told Israel, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.  And Jesus spoke to His disciples saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27. And no matter what comes our way, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,” 1 Peter 3:14. God assured Gideon that he had no reason to fear the enemy, but with 300 men He would defeat the entire army of Midian. Always remember what Paul said to the Roman Christians. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. If God is on our side, which He is, then we have nothing to fear. He can do anything for us, even if it looks impossible. And this is what Gideon saw, and how he defeated and army of over 130,000 with but 300 on his side.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Luke 7:9

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 7:9 

“Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” – Luke 7:9   

After Jesus finished His discourse with the Pharisees, He left and went to Capernaum.  And when He arrived, he is informed of the critical illness of a valuable servant of a centurion, one who was close to death.  As a note, a centurion in the Roman army was an officer in charge of one hundred men. And six centurions and their men served under a tribune. In this instance the centurion was not serving in a direct Roman military capacity because Roman soldiers were not stationed in Capernaum. As a result he may have been in the service of Herod Antipas, who used non-Jewish soldiers. Also, Roman centurions were typically persons of economic means, and the use of their means for civic projects played an important role in their appointment and promotion to the upper ranks of Roman military and political life.

Now, we next read, “And when he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. And when they had come to Jesus, they earnestly entreated Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation, and it was he who built us our synagogue.” Luke 7:3-5. Now we see that when this centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they asked Jesus, they said he was worthy of having his servant healed because he loved the Jews and had built a synagogue for them.  So because of this, it was not improper to show him kindness.

So, Jesus agreed to go to him.  “Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Luke 7:6-7. In these verses, we see humility in the centurion. Where the elders said he was worthy of him coming and granting this request, the centurion said he was not worthy of Him coming to his place, therefore do not take the time to come. Also, notice how he addresses Jesus.  He calls Him Lord.

Now, this is where it gets interesting.  Note verse eight. “For I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Luke 7:8.  At the very  end of verse seven we read, “You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Luke 7:7b.  Then he explains what he means in the next verse.    What is interesting is that He compares Jesus’ authority to his own.  He stated those under himself obey him in all ways. And just as his soldiers do what he says, the sickness will obey Jesus and leave his slave.  And all He has to do is declare it, and it will happen.  He does not need to be there, just to declare the healing.

Now, Jesus totally understood what he was saying.  “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith. And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.” Luke 7:9-10. The centurion’s understanding of Jesus’ spiritual authority made Jesus marvel. His simple confidence in the ability of Jesus’ mere words to heal showed a faith that was free of superstitious reliance on merely external things.   True faith realizes that God can heal apart from rituals, special ointments, touch, or monetary gifts to the healer. The centurion recognized that all Jesus needed to say was a single word. His faith in Jesus was absolute and unlimited. Even a single word from the Lord spoken at a distance could heal his servant, for the Spirit of the Lord was present with Jesus to heal.

This is true faith.  The centurion had come to understand that Jesus was not limited at all by distance and could do anything.  I now ask the question; do we have this type of faith?  God has shown us through His word, and with some, experiences of His miraculous abilities.  Jesus marveled at the faith this man had. He expressed here that He had not seen Faith like this in all of Israel, God’s people.  This is sad because they claimed faith in God.  But was their faith real, or simply tradition.  It is important that we look at our faith to see if ours is real or simply tradition.  And then go to God as we see where we fall short.  This is essential and will help us have the faith we ought to have in such a wonderful and powerful God who loves us.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Isaiah 8:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Isaiah 8:14 

“Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” – Isaiah 8:14

This verse here addresses Jesus’ acceptance by the Jews.  This is a sad statement, for it prophesies that they will not accept Him as the promised Messiah but will see Him as a heresy. Lets go back a few verses for context.  “For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.” Isaiah 8:11-13.  Isaiah is basically saying that His people are not obeying Him as He requires and as to what is best for them.  The people were looking to Assyria as their hope and their source.   The Lord is who they should regard as holy, not any man or country.  We should fear Him, and not Assyria or their king.

Then we reach our focus verse.  “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Isaiah 8:14. The Hebrew word translated ‘sanctuary’ is “miqdash”, pronounced mik-dawsh which means a consecrated thing or place, a palace or sanctuary of God.  This could refer to Jehovah or of idols, but here it definitely refers to Jehovah. However, Israel saw Assyria as their refuge, because of its strength and power.  At this time, it had become the most powerful nation in the world, and unfortunately, Israel put their trust in Assyria rather than God.  Both houses of Israel saw God as a stone over which he would stumble and fall.  The idea is that none could run against a hard, rough, fixed stone or rock without injuring himself.  The theologian Albert Barnes adds, “So the Jews would oppose the counsels of God; instead of making him their refuge and strength, they would resist his claims and appeals, and the consequence would be their destruction. It is also to be remembered, that God is often represented in the Scriptures as a rock, a firm defense, or place of safety, to those who trust in him.”

In the Psalms is presented a similar prophecy.  “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD, O scoffers, who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”  Isaiah 28:14-15.  God is saying here that Jerusalem has made a covenant with Assyria and also created links with Egypt in order to protect them, rather than trusting in God.  However, the next verse shows how God will right this situation.  “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” Isaiah 28:16. At this time, God was laying a stone in Zion, a tested and costly stone; tested by Satan and men.  And anyone who believes will be at peace and not anxious.  

Luke tells us who this stone is.  “if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.” Acts 4:9-11.  Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophesy.  And he states that Jesus is the source of salvation.  “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.  He is the source of our salvation, and in the verse above it says it this way, “A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” Psalm 28:16b.  Those who believe will be strong and not be troubled, knowing He is with us. 

In conclusion, this does not refer to only the Jews, but to the gentiles as well.  All people who accept Christ is built upon this foundation, Christ.  “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2L19-22.  He is the foundation and cornerstone of the church.  Trust in Him alone, and do not be like the Jews who were carried away to Assyria and place their trust in this nation and not in God.  Salvation is found only in Him, and no one or nowhere else.  And this is why He came, to provide this salvation to all who believe.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Micah 5:2

Verse of the Day Devotion:  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.” – Micah 5:2

Our next verse this Christmas season refers to the place of His birth.  First, let us look at the situation from where this prophecy comes from.  We read in verse one the following, “Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops; They have laid siege against us; With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek.” Micah 5:1.  They have been besieged by another kingdom, whom many see as the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar.  This was a very difficult period for Jerusalem, for Babylon was a cruel and harsh conqueror, and the failure of Judah’s king only made this situation worse. 

Moving on to our focus verse, God, through Micah, brings about a glorious prophecy.  “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.” Micah 5:2.  First, he refers to Bethlehem Ephrathah.  There were two Bethlehem’s in Israel.  There was one in Zebulun which is not the one referred to in this verse.  “The border circled around it on the north to Hannathon, and it ended at the valley of Iphtahel. Included also were Kattah and Nahalal and Shimron and Idalah and Bethlehem; twelve cities with their villages. This was the inheritance of the sons of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.” Joshua 19:14-16.  Micah uses the name Bethlehem Ephrathah to distinguish which Bethlehem was meant, for, as we see in Genesis, there was a town named Ephrathah which also went by the name Bethlehem.  “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).” Genesis 35:19. 

We know that Bethlehem is a small town, for it is stated as ‘Too little to be among the clans of Judah’.  The tribes of Israel were divided into groups called clans.  Many times, towns had enough to be a clan in themselves.  If not, they were grouped with others to produce a clan.  Bethlehem was too small to be a clan of itself, so it was combined with others to create one.  However, even though they were so small, out of them would come a king, the Messiah.  This king would be a descendent of David as shown in the psalms. “My covenant I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants shall endure forever And his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, And the witness in the sky is faithful.” Psalm 89:33-37.  And finally, it says what He would do was set up from eternity.  Not from a period of time, but before time in eternity.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 14.

Moving on to verse three we read, “Therefore He will give them up until the time When she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren Will return to the sons of Israel.” Micah 5:3.  He will give up the disobedient and rebellious Jews into the hands of other nations, till she who is in labor gives birth.  This is Mary who will give birth to Jesus.  And when this happens, the remainder of Christ’s brethren will return to the sons of Israel.  This refers to both families, that of Judah and of Israel.      

In closing, the Messiah was prophesied to be born in a small, somewhat unimportant city according to the Jews, call Bethlehem Ephrathah.  And this was fulfilled because, for though they were living in Nazareth in Galilee, Caesar Augustus declared a census of everyone under his rule, which required them to register in Bethlehem since Joseph was of the lineage of David.  This definitely was the work of God who knows the end from the beginning.  And He assured His people that their strife and misery would end because the one to be born was the Christ.  It is amazing when we look back how God uses everything to fulfill His purposes.  And we must remember that He is doing the same today.  So, take heart.  All will happen as He says, and He cannot be thwarted.     

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 3:11

Verse of the Day Devotion: Exodus 3:11  

“But Moses said to God, who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” – Exodus 3:11     

Moses was pasturing the sheep of Jethro, his father-in-law, when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a burning bush.  Because of this, Moses turned aside to see this incredible sight,  that a bush is on fire, but not burning up.  When the Lord saw that he had turned aside, He called out to him from the midst of the bush saying, “Moses, Moses.”  After hearing this, Moses answered “Here I am.”  The Lord then answers, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5.  God then goes on.  “He said also, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” Exodus 3:6.  When God revealed who He was, Moses hid his face, for He was afraid to look directly on Him.  It is probable that Moses did the same as Elijah did.  “When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:13.

The Lord then tells Moses His plan.  “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.  ” Exodus 3:8-9. 

The Lord then tells Moses He has a job for him to do.  “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10.  However, notice his response in our focus verse.  “But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11.  This is a humble response, basically asking ‘Who am I to go to Pharaoh and then bring God’s people out of Egypt?  He know doubt believed  he, being simply a shepherd, could not go to Pharaoh, probably thinking he would not listen to him.  However, God told him he would not be doing this by himself.  “And He said, Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” Exodus 3:12

How many times have you been called by God to do something and you were apprehensive to move forward and fulfill the calling?  Maybe you felt you did not have the education needed to do what He had asked of you, or maybe you do not have the oratory skills to make it happen.  Or maybe, just maybe, you do not feel you are worthy to do what is being asked of you.  We must understand that if God calls us to do something, then He knows we can do it.  As God told Moses, ‘certainly I will be with you’, I am sure He will be with us as He was with Moses.  God knows what we can accomplish, and He will not give us more than we can handle.  We must trust completely in God that whatever He calls us to do, we can certainly fulfill.  And, if God says we are worthy, than we are more than worthy.  Humility is a good thing, but we must not let it stop us from doing what He calls, but to do what He calls in a humble manner.

We must be open to whatever calling He has for us, for He has prepared us for this purpose.  And we also  know that He will be with us, guiding us to do it as He desires, and helping us during difficult times.  Just as He did for Moses.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.