“Where do you come from?” I can’t say how many times I’ve been asked that question. And I always give the same answer: “The Holy Land . . . Brooklyn, NY!” I understand how knowing a person’s hometown can give some insight and understanding of that person. Brooklyn has certainly shaped me in many ways. Nevertheless, where I come from did not identify me as anyone special—it was not a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Not so with the birthplace of the Messiah Jesus. His birth in Bethlehem was a fulfillment of prophecy and identified Him as the promised Messiah. Micah foretold from where the Messiah would come, and it was even more than just Bethlehem.
The prophecy of Micah 5:2 reveals three truths about the Messiah’s true origins. Here’s what it says: “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; One will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me. His origin is from antiquity, from eternity.”
To begin, the prophecy reveals that Messiah would come from Bethlehem. It’s specific—not that other Bethlehem that was in the Galilee, but Bethlehem Ephratah, in Judah, David’s hometown. Some have objected that Jesus didn’t really fulfill Bible prophecy but rather, He just set it up. He knew the prophecies and then intentionally did those things predicted by the prophets, to make it look like He was the Messiah. This prophecy shows that this can’t be true. A person can’t choose where he or she will be born. I had no say in Brooklyn as my birthplace anymore than my sister could choose Berlin. But that’s where the Lord determined it for us. Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was not manufactured by Him or even His parents—God, in His sovereignty, sent forth His Son, just when a Roman census required Joseph and Mary to travel to their ancient hometown. And just then, in the specific place predicted, Jesus was born not through His own manipulations but as part of God’s plan.
The prophecy also reveals that Messiah was to come from the line of David. It says He was “to be ruler over Israel for me.” The only rightful ruler over Israel, according to 2 Samuel 7:12-16, had to be from the line of David. Jesus was born to a poor Galilean young woman, but both she and her husband were from the line of David. Although born in obscurity, Jesus was born to be the King of Israel.
The most amazing aspect of the prophecy is that it reveals that the Messiah was to come from eternity past. It says “His origin is from antiquity, from eternity.” The literal translation would be that “His goings forth are from the ancient past, from the days of forever.” The Hebrew word translated “goings forth” means “appearances,” meaning that the Messiah actually made appearances in past times. This likely refers to all those times in the Hebrew Bible that God the Son appeared as the Angel of the Lord. The words about the ancient past can mean “long ago” or “ancient times” like the beginning of creation. It is even used in the Bible for eternity past (Deut 33:27; Hab 1:12). The words “the days of forever” when used in the Hebrew Bible can mean long ago or refer to eternity past. But when “ancient times” and “the days of forever” are used together (as in Prov 8:22-23) these two words always mean eternity past. This is saying that “although the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, He will really come from eternity past,” clearly indicating that this is not just the birth of a special human king, but that this King will be deity, the Eternal One, God in the flesh.
Where you and I come from is significant in that it marks and defines us. But where Messiah Jesus comes from is far more special: it identifies Him as the much longed for Messiah, the King from the line of David, and God in the flesh.