A record 2 million Christians visited Bethlehem in 2013. Why do the ancient prophecies say this “little town” is so important?

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

An estimated 75,000 Christian pilgrims are now in Israel to celebrate Christmas and many will visit Bethlehem, especially tonight on Christmas Eve. By the time the Christmas season is over, “about two million people will have visited Bethlehem in 2013,” which Israeli tourism officials note is “almost double the 2012 figure of 1.18 million” people.

The “little town of Bethlehem” is beloved, read about and sung about by Christians the world over. But why do the ancient prophecies say it is so important?

The reason is simple: the Hebrew prophet Micah told the Jewish people the Messiah would one day come from “Bethlehem Ephratah.”

In fact, Micah made it clear that the Messiah would not come from the ancient town of Bethlehem that was in northern Israel, near the Sea of Galilee. Rather, the Anointed One had to come from the Bethlehem in Judea, just down the road from Jerusalem.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small…

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