Question: Since the Messiah’s birth was prophesied in Micah 5:2 to take place in Bethlehem, the location was obviously important to God. Why?
The birth of Jesus the Messiah in Bethlehem was very important to God for several reasons.
No one can predict where he or she will be born. Only God could plan where the Messiah would be born and then ensure that it would take place as prophesied and promised:
Is. 44:24-26 This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers…
Micah’s prophecy is God’s promise; and God always keeps His promises:
Ps. 145:13b The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.
God had promised already that the Messiah would be an heir of king David (2Chron. 21:7; Is. 16:5; Is. 22:22; et.al.). By the time Jesus was born the line of Kings in Israel had been disrupted through civil war and the splitting of the nation into north and south, eventually being reduced to a province of the Roman Empire. David’s descendants had been scattered all over Israel. Jesus’ ancestral home was the town of Bethlehem, where king David had been born (1Sam. 17:12; Lk. 2:4). When Caesar Augusts required the Jews to register in their ancestral home towns for an upcoming census (Lk. 2:1-6) he was unwittingly authenticating Jesus’ lineage as a “son of David.”
Bethlehem also has great symbolic significance that conveys some important spiritual truths. “Bethlehem” literally translates as “house of bread.” While we don’t know why it was first given this name in antiquity, it stands to reason that the area was known for its crop of grain that provided flour for bread. “The house of bread” indicates a place where people will never go hungry. Jesus picked up on this theme, wedding it to the account of the bread (manna) that fell from heaven during the Exodus and tying it in to His mission as the Savior of mankind:
John 6:33, 38, 51 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. …For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. …I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Everything about Jesus’ earthly life was carefully planned by God, right down to the little village where He would be born:
Mic. 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,from ancient times.’”