Don’t Always Trust the Decorations

“But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” – Micah 5:2 (NRSV) [1]


It’s common for us in Advent to hear the words recorded in Micah reminding us that the Messiah will come from a most unlikely place: Bethlehem of Ephrathah!


I’ve read, heard, and spoken those words many times. Like elevator music, it’s easy to hear them but fail to comprehend their significance. The message becomes lost in the drone of all that’s around us: Like the busyness of the Christmas crunch.


Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. They both prophesied to Judah at a time when the Assyrians carried Israel into captivity. These words were given to anxious people living in uncertain and apprehensive times: Like us in the 21st century.


However, before Micah gives a promise of the coming Messiah who will rule Israel, he gives them a dose of reality of pending destruction (Micah 3:9-12). His words are not for wayward Israel, but to those who were placing their confidence in the outward orthodoxy of its ritual. He’s not impressed with their ceremonies and form. He’s more concerned with their heart. He understands:


It’s not how we decorate our appearance, but how we live our life that matters to God.


Orthodoxy is not enough. Saying right words and acting religious is never a substitute for compassionate living. One can be “right” in doctrine and miss the point.


Unless our faith moves us into relationships, justice, loving kindness, and a humble walk with God, our decorations are merely a façade.


The good news is: From the most unlikely place (Bethlehem-Ephratha) comes a Savior who saves us from ourselves.


Come, Lord Jesus and rescue us!





[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Mic 5:2.

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