Power Wrapped in Swaddling Cloths (Christmas 2006)

Power Wrapped in Swaddling Cloths (Christmas 2006)

“Power Wrapped in Swaddling Cloths”

(Micah 5:2)

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

First Baptist Church Henderson, Kentucky

12-24-06 (AM)


  • Please open your Bibles to the Old Testament book of Micah, chapter 5.

Micah is towards the end of the Old Testament.  It’s about six books before the end of the Old Testament.  So if you open your Bibles about ¾ of the way open you’ll be in the general area.  Micah is located right after Jonah and just before Nahum.


This morning our text comes to us from just one verse, verse 2 in chapter 5.  The context is a prophecy about the coming Messiah.  This book, Micah, is written about 750 years before Christ.  Micah foretells the birth of Jesus Christ in the small town of Bethlehem.  While the context of chapter 5 encompasses more than the Messiah’s birth, I want to focus-in on just verse 2, a verse unmistakably speaking about the first advent, the first coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.


It is a remarkable thing, prophecy.  I mean, we have in the Old Testament nearly 60 prophecies about the first coming of Christ.  A skeptic would want to give careful consideration to these prophecies before dismissing Christ as the promised Messiah.  The Old Testament foretells, for example, that Christ would be born in the line of King David (Isaiah 11:1-5; Matthew 1:1, 6).


The Old Testament also foretells that Christ would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-20).  We looked at that last Wednesday evening from Isaiah chapter 7.


We also read an Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 53 that the Messiah would be rejected by His own people, by the Jews—fulfilled in John 1:11, where the Bible says, “He came to His own and His own received Him not.”


The Old Testament book of Zechariah (11:12) prophesies that the price of Christ’s betrayal would be 30 pieces of silver—fulfilled by Judas in the New Testament book of Matthew (26:15).


In Psalm 22:16 the Psalmist prophesies that the Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced.  This is fulfilled, of course, in the crucifixion recorded in Luke 23:33; 24:38-40).


In Psalm 34:20 we read a prophecy that none of Christ’s bones would be broken—fulfilled in John 19:33-36.


In Psalm 22:1 and Psalm 22:18, the Psalmist even records the final words Christ would speak from the cross—fulfilled in Mark 15:34 and that others would gamble for His clothing—fulfilled in John 19:23-24.


But the greatest Old Testament prophecy in my estimation is the one that we will read this morning: the prophecy that Christ’s birth would occur in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1).

  • Please stand in honor of the reading of the word of God.


Micah 5:2 2 ” But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”


  • Pray.



My goal this morning is to enlarge our understanding of, and to deepen our appreciation for, the birth of Jesus Christ.  I really believe that far too many people who profess to be Christians are no more than people merely enamored with the moral teachings of a carpenter from Nazareth than they are convinced and captured by the fact that this Jesus truly was and is God in the flesh.  He is God in the flesh!


It seems to me that the wise men from the east, the Magi, knew this about the Lord Jesus.  Matthew records in his Gospel that the wise men came for the singular purpose of worshiping Him.  They knew there was something different about this young child—something powerfully different about Him.  So I want us to go back 2,000 years and enter into that first Nativity scene and gaze down upon the Christ of the cradle, the Messiah of the manger, and worship Christ for Who He is.  This verse, Micah 5, verse 2, reminds us of the power of Christ that Mary wrapped in swaddling cloths.


Now we’ll be very simple about this, observing a few things that I believe naturally emerge from this one verse.  You may have heard about the teacher after Christmas break who asked the class how they spent their vacations.  One little boy said, “We visited my grandmother in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.”  His teacher said, “Well, that sounds like an excellent vocabulary word.  Can you tell the class how you spell, ‘Punxsutawney?’”  The little boy said, “You know, come to think of it, we went to Ohio.”


Well we’re not going to complicate matters.  We’re going to be very simple this morning and note three things about the power of Christ found plainly here in this verse.  So look with me down in the manger and let’s worship Christ together.  First, as we look down into the manger we see:


I. The Power in His Humility


“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah,”


God the Father is speaking through Micah and Micah foretells the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.  The word “Ephrathah” there is the old name for Bethlehem.  You read it sometimes in the Old Testament.  It is used interchangeably with Bethlehem.


Bethlehem is described as “little among the thousands of Judah.”  It is this little town of Bethlehem where God freely determines that He will be born in the flesh.  He chooses the small obscure town of Bethlehem as the site of His divine favor.  “Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, little among the clans and tribes of Judah, you will be the place where history will record the birth of the Messiah.”  Bethlehem is a humble town, the perfect place for the Humble Savior.  That God should choose this small town of Bethlehem illustrates the humility of Christ.


When we speak of the humility of Christ we are referring to the fact that God humbled Himself by coming to us in the flesh.  The eternal Son of God leaves the beauty and glory and splendor of the throne room of heaven and condescends in His coming to us by being born of a virgin in this insignificant town of Bethlehem.


The Apostle Paul writes of the humility of Christ.  In Philippians 2:7, He writes that Jesus Christ, “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”


Christ humbled Himself by leaving the glory of heaven and, in the incarnation, taking upon flesh, taking up humanity as He is born there in the lowliest of places, a crude feed trough in the small and insignificant town of Bethlehem.


See, Christ could have been born in a far nobler place.  I suppose if I were God I would have chosen the biggest, flashiest, city on the entire planet.  After all, when you’re God, why not?  You can do that.  But God chooses Bethlehem, a small “nothing” of a town.  I like that.  God acts differently than we might expect.


Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 that, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.”


Christ is born in the small town of Bethlehem so no man could boast in His presence.  Imagine the boasting of men should the Messiah have been born in Jerusalem: “Isn’t this wonderful that the Messiah should be born here in this great city of kings and human achievement, born here in this fine golden palace we have built with our own hands, the babe placed right here in this beautiful bed of silk and fine linen!”


No, the eternal Son of God is born in Bethlehem as an illustration of His humility.  He is powerful enough to have been born in the richest and most royal of cities, yet He constrains His power and humbles Himself by choosing to be born in the small inconsequential village town of unknown shepherds and bread makers so that no man can boast before Him.  That is so like God!  There is power in His humility.  He constrains His power, choosing to be born in the small town of Bethlehem.


Can you see the eternal Son of God as you look down there in the manger?  As you look at His face do you realize that this is the One who left the glories of heaven for you?  Can you see Him leaving the splendid brilliance and grandeur of the eternal heavens?!  2,000 years ago He rises from the heavenly throne and there is a holy hush in heaven.  The four living creatures and the 24 elders bow down before Him in praise.  And the Son of God begins the downward journey.  He treads down the heavenly walkway and multitudes of angels go before and behind Him, escorting the second Person of the Trinity downward to earth for His divine assignment.  They wave goodbye to the Son of God as He leaves to become the God-Man.  Down goes the Son of God, down, down, down in heavenly humility, down and into the womb of a previously unknown young Jewish virgin named Mary, down to be born in the small ambiguous town of Bethlehem, down to be born that He might die.  Yes, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).


As we worship Christ, Micah 5:2 helps us see the power that Mary wrapped in those swaddling cloths.  We see the power in Christ’s humility.  Secondly, as we worship Christ, we see:


II. The Power in His Majesty

“Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel,”


Remember that God the Father is the One Who is speaking here in Micah 5:2.  He is talking to Bethlehem here.  He says, “Yet out of you (Bethlehem) shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel.”  Yet out of you, Bethlehem, is coming the One to carry out My divine assignment, the One who will be the Majestic, Royal, Ruler in Israel—and we would add, not just over Israel, but over the entire world.


In fact, if you read on in this prophecy, verse 4 identifies the greater reign and rule of the Messiah: “He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth.”  The Lord Jesus Christ is more than a Ruler over Israel.  He is Ruler over “the ends of the earth.”


Israel presently reminds blind to the Messiah who has come, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul writes of this blindness in Romans 11:25-26 where he says that this “blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”

Israel is experiencing a hardness of heart until a great number of Gentiles are saved.  Then the veil will be removed and they will recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah and bow before Him as their Majestic, Royal, Ruler.


When Christ came the first time He came to rule over sin.  He came to take care of our sin problem.  So Jesus says in Mark 10:45: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  That’s why Christ came: to give His life as a ransom for many.  He came to die for us, to rule over sin in the power of His majesty.


When Christ comes the second time, He will return as Conquering King.  But the first time Christ came He came as Suffering Servant.  He came to die for our sins.  This is why, in large part, the Jews missed His first coming.  They were expecting a political messiah to come as Conquering King.  He will so return, but He came the first time to take care of our greatest problem, the problem of sin.


The Bible teaches that all humankind has this problem called sin.  Everyone has this problem.  Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Sin can be both active and passive.  Sin is active when we do things we know are wrong.  And sin is passive when we don’t do things we know are right.  We’ve all got this problem.  The Bible says, “All have sinned.”  When I quote this in personal evangelism, I stress the word “All” there and say, “That means everyone—the Pope, Billy Graham, and every preacher.”


I heard about three preachers who were on an unproductive fishing trip when they began to discuss various topics to pass the time. One preacher said he thought it would be nice if they confessed their biggest sins to each other and then prayed for each other. They all agreed, and the first preacher said that his biggest sin was that he liked to sit at the beach now and then and watch the ladies walk by.  The second preacher confessed that his biggest sin was that he went to the horse racing track every so often and put a small bet on a horse.  They both turned to the third preacher and asked: “Brother, what is your biggest sin?”  The third preacher smiled and said, “My biggest sin is gossiping.”


All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  God is a holy God.  He is without sin.  And we are unholy in the sense that we are sinners.  But not only is God a holy God, He is also a loving God and God loves us so much that He comes to us in the power of majesty to rule over our sin.


John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son—that is, His unique, One-of-a-kind Son—so that whosoever believes in Him, should not die but have eternal life.”  That’s why God sent His Son the first time.  Christ came to die for our sins.  He takes the punishment for our sin upon Himself.  That’s the greatest gift of Christmas—the gift of God’s eternal Son, Jesus—Jesus, whose very name means, “The LORD saves”—Jesus, Savior!


Do you see the power in Christ’s majesty as you look down into the face of the Babe lying in the manger?  Do you see a King there in the cradle?  He came to rule over your sin.  He came just for you.  Listen: He came just for you.


For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son so that whosoever—did you hear that—whosoever believes in Him should not die.  Do you hear the singularity in that?  Whosoever.  That whosever means you.  God loves you so much that He came just for you.


I remember when I was small and playing with some friends and someone would suggest a pick-up game of football or something.  Two team captains would emerge from the group and pick people to be on their team.  They’d look out at the bunch of us and say, “I pick Joe” or “I pick John.”  Man, I sweated it out every time.  I was nearly always picked last!  But the worse thing was to not be picked at all.  The two captains do all of their choosing and there you stand.  Nobody wants you.  And then one of them would say, “Todd . . . uh, you referee!”


The Bible says that God loves us so much that He comes just for us and He includes all who are willing to be on His team.  No one is left out.  No one is left standing alone.  Whosoever believes in Him, believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and submits to His rule, will have everlasting life!


As we worship the Christ of the cradle, we see power in His humility and power in His majesty.  Finally, as we look down at the Babe in the manger, we see:


III. The Power in His Eternality


“Whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.”


Micah 5:2 reminds us that the coming Savior has been around a lot longer than 2,000 years!  We spoke a little about this last Wednesday evening.  There was never a time the Son was not.  He has always been.  He is eternal.  So we see here the power of the Son of God’s eternality.  He has always been.  His “goings forth” is a reference to His origin.  The phrase, “from everlasting” is also translated, “from eternity.”


So Micah tells us that this Savior to come is One whose, “goings forth are from old.”  His origin is from old.  We ask, “How old, Micah?”  Micah answers, “From eternity!”  There is power in Christ’s eternality.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  He is the Son of God who humbles Himself and takes on the addition of humanity.  He takes on flesh.  2,000 years ago the Son of God became the God-Man.  But as we look at the face of Jesus we must remember that He has always been divine.  He has always been God.


In Colossians 1:15-17, Paul writes, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”


In His Gospel, The Apostle John refers to Christ as “the Word.”  So he writes in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that (has been) made.”


The Son of God was with God the Father at creation.  He is eternal.  His goings forth are from old, from everlasting.  As Co-Regent and Co-Creator, He hung the moon and set the stars in place.  He set the boundaries of the waters and breathed life into Adam and Eve.


Then John says in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Do you behold His glory this morning?  As you look down into the Babe in the manger, do you see the “image of the invisible God?”  Do you see the power of His eternality?


He always is.  That’s what it means to be eternal.  He is.  That’s why He takes the descriptive name of Yahweh as the great, “I Am” because “He was and is and is to come.”  He is.  So He’s always there for you, no matter what.  He is.  He says in the very last verse of Matthew, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”  He is.  The power of His eternality!


You remember that story from John 8:56-58, when Jesus was talking with some Jews who did not believe He was the Son of God.  Jesus says to the, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”  Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?  I mean, Abraham was around more than a couple thousand years ago!”  Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”  See the power in His eternality.


Conclusion / Invitation:


As we worship the Christ of the cradle, we see power in His humility, power in His majesty, and power in His eternality.


As I worked on this message this week, I kept humming and singing this song that so beautifully illustrates everything we’re after as we look down at the face of the Babe in the manger this Christmas Eve.  This song written by Mark Lowry poetically wonders whether Mary understood that the little baby of Bethlehem was the fulfillment of Micah 5:2:


Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.


Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

Did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?

And when you kiss your little boy you’ve kissed the face of God.


Mary, did you know that your baby boy is lord of all creation?

Did you know that your baby boy will one day rules the nations?

Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?

This sleeping child you’re holding is the great “I AM!”


It’s almost beyond our ability to comprehend: When Mary wrapped her little baby in swaddling cloths, she was wrapping the power of humility, majesty, and eternality.  This powerful Christ Child demands nothing less than our total allegiance.  Bow to Him this morning.  Worship Him as Lord and Savior.


  • Stand for prayer.

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name.  The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.