Short Meds in Getting Ready in Covid-Advent: 24. Providence 2
Lk 2:1 “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.”
Joseph has had a dream and in it an angel tells him he is to marry Mary and give her son the name Jesus. It is such a convincing dream, “he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son.” (Mt 1:24,25) All seems well and good – silent night, holy night stuff, all is calm all is bright, until….
This Caesar guy is a pain in the proverbial! He is feeding his ego and disturbing the lives of millions. He has a decree sent out round the empire. He wants to know how many people he rules over. The Rome bureaucrats decide the only way to do it is to have certain registry centres, places where family trees relate to. In Israel, Bethlehem happens to be one of them. So anyone who relates back to Bethlehem, people of the family tree of David, need to go there to be registered.
A couple of them happen to be Mary and Joseph who, because of Joseph’s family background, are now going to have to go all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem – and she’s a long way on in her pregnancy!
Rulers (and haven’t we had them this year!) often lay down rules that we’re often unhappy with. Yes, unlike Caesar’s, they may be essential, and who looked forward to two or more lockdowns in the UK and even more uncertainty this year?
But the truth is that God was working within this and there are valid reasons (think about them) why Bethlehem was a good place for them: it enabled them to start life with a baby away from the gossip of Nazareth, it was the place prophesied as the birthplace of the Messiah to which the wise men with their financial support would be directed, it was near to Jerusalem where they would receive prophetic encouragement, and it was easy to escape to Egypt for protection, all things God knew but they didn’t. When circumstances take a direction different from what we expect, the response of the believer is to seek the One who knows all things and ask Him what is going on. In the meantime, until He reveals His plans and purposes and why things are happening, we have to rest in peace, trusting Him and that He knows and it’s not all out of control. We may need more grace to cope with the days – just like Joseph and Mary must have done – but He will be watching over us as He did them and it will come to a good end – somehow! He is working for our good in the midst of it all, remember. (Rom 8:28)