‘Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.’
This is the passage which the doctors of the law quoted when Herod asked of them where the Christ should be born. Insignificant though Bethlehem might be, it would shine like a star on the page of history, because Emmanuel, God with us, there assumed our human nature. He went forth to be the Ruler of Israel, but the goings forth had been from of old, from everlasting.
I. There were goings forth of love.—God so loved the world that He gave His Son. He loved us with an everlasting love. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever He had formed the earth and the world, He had purposes of love towards our race, which were to take effect in the fullness of time. The older we get, the more comfort we derive from knowing that God’s love originated ours, that we love because He first loved, and that He began knowing well what we should be, so He will not be diverted or surprised by anything that He may discover.
II. There were goings forth of wisdom.—The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth, by understanding hath He established the heavens. By His knowledge were the depths broken up, and the skies dropped down the dew. In the beginning was the Word, by Whom the plans of all things were laid down, wrapped up by His foresight in the original act of creation.
III. There were goings forth of power.—Christ is the Wisdom and Power of God. Through Him went forth the creative fiat from everlasting. The Power of God flowed through the Nature of the Son, who was the Organ of Creation. Through Him were all things created, which are in heaven and on earth. Stars and glow-worms, cherubim and grasshoppers, mountains and molecules of dust. And though He was crucified in weakness, He now lives to communicate to each of us power unto salvation.
(1) ‘Bethlehem might be little, but so is earth among the thousands of the stars, and littleness in size is nothing to God, to Whom all is great, where He deigns to work. The Lord Jesus came forth from Bethlehem, but His goings forth had been from everlasting. Born in a stable though He was, He was Ruler and Prince. Though He lay in His mother’s arms, He was to stand in the strength of the Lord. Though He was so poor and humble that the great of this world knew Him not, yet He has been tending His flock through the ages, in the majesty of the Name of the Lord His God. Though He came forth from so lowly an origin, He is great to the ends of the earth. He is our peace, Who hath made peace between God and man by the blood of His Cross, and is now intent on making peace between man and man the world over.’
(2) ‘God had not forsaken His people. A great Deliverer—the Messiah-King—would yet arise to retrieve the fallen fortunes of the Chosen Race. He is born of Bethlehem, but is of no merely human origin, for His goings forth were from the remote eternity of the past. His origin is lowly, but He shall be Ruler. The people might be given up to their adversity until Bethlehem had travailed in birth and brought forth her long-expected child, but when He came to His own, there would be a great returning.’