Our Obscure and Exalted King -

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.”
- Micah 5:2

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
- Luke 2:12

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love

O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.

No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today

We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
- O Little Town of Bethlehem, Phillip Brooks

A while back we received an email from some dear friends in Starbuck, Washington. Starbuck is an obscure little town, barely a spot on the map and located about forty miles east of Walla Walla. There aren’t very many people in Starbuck. In fact you need to know what you are looking if you expect to find it. There is one store and a gas station and even those are closed during the severe winter weather. Most of the folks either work in agriculture, for the government, or they are unemployed. With the weather fronts that move through the Northwest, Spokane and Portland get all the news. No one knows or cares about Starbuck.

Years ago in an obscure agricultural village something amazing happened. The King of Kings was born in an obscure backwater town named Bethlehem. Consider that the Ruler of all became a newborn baby lying in a cattle stall in a non-descript agricultural community. There was no fanfare and no press release. The only witnesses were mom and dad and some farm animals. Eventually some shepherds, some traveling magicians, and some angels came to herald the birth, but in the moment it was only obscurity. As far as the world was concerned it was just another night in an unimportant village.

Many times the glory of the gospel comes to obscure places, and in obscure times, and to obscure people. This is the mystery of the work of the Spirit under the sovereign hand of God. The gospel most often comes without fanfare, press releases, and attention. This gospel often comes to the unlikeliest of people and in the unlikeliest of places. It will not always be this way. The day is coming when the King will be recognized and worshipped by all.

It is a joy for me to look back on this past year. I can see where God has been at work without fanfare and in obscurity. Rejoice, the King has come to obscure and needy sinners like you and me.


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