So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-7 NIV)
Photo: Aschwin Prein
“Because there was no room for them in the inn” is one of the most recognizable phrases found in the Bible. It is quoted in Christmas pageants and family Bible studies all around the world as the celebration of the birth of Jesus approaches.
What do we know about that inn in Bethlehem? Does the Bible have anything else to say about the humble sight that would welcome the King of Heaven to dwell on the earth? Who did it belong to? When was it built?
If you turn back in the pages of your Bible, you find a curious reference in Jeremiah 41 to a place in Bethlehem in which some travelers made a stop while they were fleeing to Egypt.
… And they went on, stopping at Geruth Kimham near Bethlehem on their way to Egypt to escape the Babylonians … (Jeremiah 41:17-18 NIV)
It is an interesting reference to a little known location near Bethlehem that has no bearing on the story being told in Jeremiah 41. Like so many passages of scripture, it is a small nugget planted within the text to shed light on a much bigger picture.
As we study the reference to “Geruth Kimham,” an amazing picture begins to unfold for us. A picture of blessing and covenant and what can happen when a man chooses to leave his past and walk in relationship with a king.
Geruth Kimham is not a city near Bethlehem, it is a residence that was established near Bethlehem as a place for travelers to find shelter. The Hebrew words are literally translated as “the lodging place of Kimham.” We would refer to it today as a hotel, in the pages of the Bible you would find it referred to as an “inn.”
This man, Kimham, who established an inn near Bethlehem, has an interesting appearance in the story of King David. After the rebellion of Absalom, David returns to Jerusalem to be reestablished as king over the nation of Israel. David is accompanied on this return trip by many of the men who provided for him when he fled from Absalom to avoid a civil war in the streets of Jerusalem. One of those men, Barzillai the Gileadite, has a very special place in David’s heart, and David desires to richly bless Barzillai. We read the account of their conversation in 2 Samuel 19, where we find Barzillai refusing the offer of King David and sending a substitute in his place.
“Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever pleases you.” The king said, “Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever pleases you. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.”
So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and gave him his blessing, and Barzillai returned to his home. When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. (2 Samuel 19:36-40 NIV)
Here we find another one of those significant pieces of information hidden away in the details of a story.
King David blessed the man Kimham, whose only right to receive the blessing was that he didn’t say “no” when the invitation was extended. In a moment in time, when others refused, Kimham said “yes.”
We don’t know what Kimham had to sacrifice to say “yes” to King David, but we can gain an amazing glimpse of what he gained. Apparently Kimham was given land near David’s home town of Bethlehem. Kimham evidently established a resting place for travelers who were passing through the region of Bethlehem. And, it would seem, that a young man and woman, traveling to be counted in the Roman census, would travel to Bethlehem and find no room in the inn. But, they would seek shelter in the stable behind the inn. And the King of Heaven would be born in a stable built by a man who’s only recorded action was that he said “yes” at the right time.
The story of the Inn of Kimham amazes me. It speaks to us on so many levels. Did Kimham have an ounce of understanding the stable beside his inn would welcome the birth of the Messiah? Did David perceive his generosity toward Kimham would establish the birthplace of his great, great, great (etc.) grandson?
Do we have even the slightest glimmer of an idea of the power of our acts of willingness and generosity? Even today, stables are being built all over the world that will welcome the King of Glory into the hearts of men.
Your life, your actions, your “yes” will echo through human history. May it be a sweet sound in the ears of all who hear.
Click here to listen to Pastor Eric’s message “Sacrifice and Relationships.”
On the Radar – Church Holiday Schedule
- Wednesday, December 9 – Lifegroup Christmas Party / Youth Christmas Party
- Sunday, December 13 – Third Sunday of Advent
- Wednesday, December 16 – Hayride, Caroling, & Chiminea Christmas Party
- Saturday, December 19 – Ladies’ Cookie Swap & Ornament Exchange
- Sunday, December 20 – Children’s Christmas Pageant
- Wednesday, December 23 – No Church Activities
- Sunday, December 27 – Last Sunday of 2009
- Wednesday, December 30 – No Church Activities
- Thursday, December 31 – New Year’s Night of Worship
Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in my office. Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box. Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.
The Drum Circle will be getting back on rhythm in 2010. Drop me an email if you are interested in learning to play hand drums.
You Heard it at EFC
Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang? Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself. You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.
- “Joy to the World”
- “I’ve Found a Love” Bethel Live version
- “Freedom Reigns” by Jason Upton
- “When I think about the Lord” by James Huey
Next Sunday, December 13, is the third Sunday of Advent. We will continue our series on Sacrifice by looking at the sacrifice God made on our behalf.
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