But you, Bethlehem, David’s country,
the runt of the litter—
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule Israel.
He’ll be no upstart, no pretender.
His family tree is ancient and distinguished.
Meanwhile, Israel will be in foster homes
until the birth pangs are over and the child is born,
And the scattered brothers come back
home to the family of Israel.
He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God’s strength,
centered in the majesty of God-Revealed.
And the people will have a good and safe home,
for the whole world will hold him in respect—
Peacemaker of the world Micah 5:2-4 (The Message)
The Book of Micah in the Old Testament was written about 500 years before the birth of Jesus which it prophesied. The above passage predicts that the birthplace of the anticipated Savior would be in the very unlikely place of Bethlehem. The Hebrew people were waiting for the arrival of the Messiah who would relieve them of their constant oppression at the hands of pagans and infidels who enslaved them and persecuted them constantly.
I was struck this morning with the idea of a long wait. That was prompted by the long-awaited rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. It cannot come soon enough! Indeed, it happens to come during Advent, the time of anticipation.
During this Christmas season, children can hardly contain themselves in waiting for December 25th. I remember as a child, the agonizing wait until we could open presents on Christmas Eve before we went to midnight Mass. Waiting is hard! The time goes by soooo s-l-o-w-l-y.
I am sure that the Hebrew people were used to waiting. Indeed, the annual Seder meal ends with the phrase “Next Year in Jerusalem!”. The idea of course is to call to mind the hope of eventual redemption in a Jewish homeland that is secure. The Jewish people are the model for the ability to wait!
Americans, generally, are not very good about waiting. We are restless and impatient, wanting to make things happen now. That is a strength of the American people, but to the extreme, like any strength, it becomes a weakness. It is so hard to wait.
This is a season of waiting. We await Christmas. We await the vaccine. We await a return to normal. The Book of Micah foretold an event that was some 500 years away, and its fulfillment was perfect in its timing.
I trust that our wait is worth it. The delivery that God promises is on time, even if it is not always on OUR time schedule.
Prayer: Lord, your timing is perfect, even as our abilities to wait are not. We trust in your timing and provision, Amen.