The Case of the Two Bethlehems
We continue to explore Professor Peter Stoner’s marvelous book, Science Speaks, which calculates the mathematical probabilities of Bible prophecies begin fulfilled.
Let’s look for a moment at the remarkable prophecy found in the book of Micah chapter 5. This is a prophecy that is probably better known by the general public than any of the Messianic prophecies in the Bible, and there’s a lot of Messianic prophecies in the Bible, but this one is really remarkable.
In Micah 5:2, Micah writes, “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.”
Notice something here. This prophecy was written 700 years before Jesus was born, and yet Micah by inspiration of the Holy Spirit says the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. That can’t be a coincidence. It has to be by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Notice something else. Notice how specific this prophecy is, because it does not just say this ruler is going to be born in Bethlehem. Rather, it says He’s going to be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah. What in the world is that all about?
At the time that this prophecy was written, there were two Bethlehems in Israel. Instead of just saying the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, Micah identified specifically which Bethlehem it would be. It would be like if today I were to ask you, “Where were you born.” And, if you were to say, “I was born in Springfield,” I’d have to ask you another question. I’d have to ask because there is a Springfield in 35 states of the nation — Springfield, Missouri; Springfield, Massachusetts; and so on. Thirty-five states claim a Springfield. So, if you are going to tell me you’re born in Springfield, I’ve got to ask, “What state?”
The same situation occurred in that day and time because there were two Bethelehems. There was Bethlehem of Judea which was located right outside of Jerusalem. Then there was Bethlehem Zebulun that was located up near the city of Nazareth, in fact, it was about 5 miles west of Nazareth. So, there were two Bethlehems at the time of Christ’s birth.
So, if a prophet is going to tell you precisely what city the Messiah would be born in, he had to nail it. And he did! Bethlehem Ephrathah. Wow! That’s what I call precision.
Compare Micah’s prophecy for a moment to the kind of prophecies you find in books like that of Nostradamus. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Nostradamus’ prophecies or not, but they are absolute gobbledygook. Just read them; they make no sense whatsoever. Nostradamus prophecies can be taken and applied to anything. One could conclude, “Oh, well, this is a fulfillment or that’s a fulfillment.” But, they are just gobbledygook.
For a prophecy to be a real prophecy, it has got to be precise. It has got to be definite. It’s got to tell you when, where, and how so that you can one day look back and say, “That prophecy has been literally fulfilled to the finest extent.” That is exactly what we find in Bible prophecy. Bible prophecy is precise, and the prophecies concerning the Messiah are very, very precise. And, there was more than just one prophecy, but 108 precise prophecies concerning the First Coming of the Messiah.
I studied for seven years trying to find all the Messianic prophecies in the Bible. What I discovered I put together in a publication called The Christ in Prophecy Study Guide which was published in 1987, the seventh year of my ministry. I’ve put out new editions of the Guide over the years. In that book you can find all 108 prophecies in detail, where they’re stated, when they were fulfilled in the Scriptures, and what they all mean.
There’s nothing hazy about any of the First Coming prophecies. There’s nothing that you have to guess about for they are very, very precise. But these two in particular — Micah 5:2 and Psalm 22 — I think really nail it.
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If you would like to learn more about the amazing Science found in the Bible, watch the “Christ in Prophecy” episode titled “Stoner’s Defense of the Faith,” or continue on to the sixth and last segment of this series concerning the prophecy of the split mountain.