Bethlehem, Then And Now
1. Bethlehem is an interesting place. It is a place rich in Bible history, filled with accounts of remarkable events and remarkable people:
a. Bethlehem is the city of Boaz, where the story of Ruth takes place.
b. Bethlehem is the place of David's birth, and where many years later, Samuel anointed him as king.
c. Bethlehem is also where Rachael, the beloved wife of Jacob is buried.
1) You will remember not long ago, the Palestinians set out to destroy the Holy sites of Israel. After days of fierce fighting, they took control of Joseph's Tomb and converted it into a mosque.
2) Following the attack on Joseph's tomb, they then launched an attack on Rachel's Tomb, and came within 30 feet of taking the site.
d. More important than any other city in the world, Bethlehem is distinguished as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
1) There is a church in Bethlehem still existing today that was built by Constantine the Great (A.D. 330). It is called the "Church of the Nativity." It was built over a grotto or cave called the "holy crypt," and said to be the "stable" in which Jesus was born. They claim it is the oldest existing Christian church in the world.
2. This morning I want to turn our attention to Bethlehem as it was during the time of Jesus' birth, and Bethlehem as it is today.
I. BETHLEHEM THEN
1. Bethlehem, as well as the entire land of Israel, was under Roman rule. You will remember they had put in place a puppet king, Herod the Great.
a. The Jews hated Herod because he was not of true Jewish descent. He was an Idumaean. Herod was part Arab and part Jew. He was not in the Davidic line, which was a qualification in order to be a Jewish king, and was therefore despised by the Jews.
b. It was Herod who sought to take the life of Jesus. In Matthew 2:7-8, the Bible says, "Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what ti ...
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