Augustus, Unwitting Participant
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
Luke 2:1-5 NLT
A Roman emperor plays a significant role in the Christmas story—and he doesn’t even know it. God moved the heart of Augustus to require everyone in Israel to register in their ancestral hometowns. This decree forced Joseph and Mary to travel ninety miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem—and that was without highways or automobiles and with Mary being at least eight months pregnant.
It was crucial for the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem so that God could restore the kingdom of David. David was born in Bethlehem and was Israel’s greatest king. God promised David to have a king from his heritage to sit on the throne forever. (Jesus was a rightful descendent of David, as we learn in Matthew, chapter one.) Because of the nations’ sins, the kingdom was cut off, and for hundreds of years, no descendent of David had ruled in Israel. God wanted to restore what man had destroyed.
God is still in the restoration business. He goes to the place of our failures and disappointments and starts over with a new work. Sometimes, the means He uses to get us there is not what we would have imagined. I’m sure that Mary was not excited about the trip to Bethlehem. I’m sure she didn’t see this as a part of God’s big plan. To Joseph and Mary, it looked like an inconvenience and interruption to their plans.
Sometimes, the inconvenience and interruptions of life are actually God working to bring about His work in our lives. Be careful we don’t curse the twist and turns—they may be part of God’s plan to get us where we need to be.
Holy Spirit, help me to surrender fully to Your plan and work in my life. Help me know when to yield and when to stand firm. I want to see Your kingdom come in and through me.
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