The earliest known reference to the name 'Bethlehem' comes from a text written in the 14th century before Christ. This was before the country was taken over by the Israelites. When Israel conquered this village, the kept its name, but gave to it a new meaning: 'HOUSE OF BREAD'.
The town was given to the tribe of Ephraim during the casting of lots.
"It was here that Boaz brought forth, by Ruth the Moabite, a posterity of which David was an offspring. It was to David that the prophet Samuel addressed his divine promise of perpetuity."
Under the orders of God, Samuel rejected Saul as king of Israel and was intructed to go to Bethlehem and choose one of the sons of Jesse instead. Examining each of Jesse's sons, Samuel asked Jesse, 'have you no other son?' Jesse brought forth his youngest, the sheperd-boy David. God instructed Samuel that this shepard-boy would be His anointed choice, and the prophet took the horn of oil and anointed him; Thus destining the the last-born to be first, the great king of Israel, and under whose lineage the kingship would be secured forever. This prophecy of perpetual and everlasting divinity was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
It was the prophet Micah, after the fall of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians, who proclaimed the Messiah's birth in Bethlehem:
"But you, (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel; his origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old. God is therefore going to abandon them till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth. Then the remnant of his brothers will come back to the sons of Israel. He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord Almighty, with the majesty of the name of his God. They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace." (Micah 5:1-5).
Micah's promise of the return of the ten lost tribes of Israel from the hands of Assyria through the power of this son of David coming out of Bethlehem clearly defines the earthly structure of God's coming power over the land:
"He will deliver us from Assyria should it invade our country, should it set foot inside our frontiers. As for Assyria, should it invade our country, should it set foot on our soil, we will raise seven shepherds against it, eight leaders of men; they will shepherd Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the sword blade." (Micah 5: 5-6).
Assyria took the ten tribes into a profound captivity, but God has shown through all the other prophets, that Assyria and Babylon are one and the same and that both will be forced to give up their captives and be ruled by God's sword (the word of God (Rev.19:13, 21). The seven shepards are the seven churches. (Rev.1:20). The eight leaders of men are the seven angels of the seven churches together with Jesus Christ who leads them all. The sword blade is the Gospel which is destined for a time to rule the world.
Bethlehem's meaning, 'House of Bread' stands for the divine bread of God, the Gospel of Christ which, if eaten spiritually, becomes an everlasting food, imparting eternal life into the one who eats it.
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