Our first impressions of Christmas, once our eyes are opened to the falsity of Santa, are often of an infant born in a barn -- the beginning of the perfect and sacrificial life of Jesus.
We Christians profess to believe that the crucifixion wasn't the end of Jesus' life. But, what if the Colonel told you that the birth of the Messiah wasn't the beginning of the life of God's Son? What if he told you that the Son of God wasn't born on Christmas?
Over twenty-seven centuries ago -- seven centuries before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem -- a man by the name of Micah was born in the village of Morashet on the coastal plain southwest of Jerusalem. A contemporary of the great prophet Isaiah, Micah also spoke out in condemnation of the Hebrew people whose hearts and practices had turned from God. He accurately prophesied the destruction of the two capitals of the divided kingdoms of Judah and Samaria. His statement regarding God's requirement of His people is one of the most clear and concise in all of scripture:
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." -- Micah 6: 8 (NIV)
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." -- Micah 5: 2 (KJV)
The first part of this verse gets all the attention. It's the part that Herod's scribes quoted to him when asked about the prophesy of which the scriptural scholars from Persia (the "wise men") came to see fulfillment.
That last part is the most awesome part -- in the Colonel's not-so humble opinion: "... whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." The Hebrew phrase translated "from everlasting" in the King James version of the Bible actually means "eternity."
Eternity. No beginning. No end.
What Micah was inspired to prophesy wasn't that the Son of God would be born in Bethlehem. The Son of God was never and would never be born. As John said:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." -- John 1: 1-3 (NIV)
to live a sinless life -- without blemish as a perfect sacrifice; to die willingly at the hands of men He came to save.