During those days, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ordered that the first census be taken throughout his empire. (Quirinius was the governor of Syria at that time.) 3 Everyone had to travel to his or her hometown to complete the mandatory census. 4–5 So Joseph and his fiancé, Mary, left Nazareth, a village in Galilee, and journeyed to their hometown in Judea, to the village of Bethlehem, King David’s ancient home. They were required to register there, since they were both direct descendants of David. Mary was pregnant and nearly ready to give birth. (TPT)
In the midst of COVID, it feels like our world has been turned upside down. To protect our safety and keep people healthy, the government has mandated ever changing restrictions and recommendations.
The Government in the time of Augustus also also turned the Roman Empire on its head. Instead of mandating that everyone stay home and quarantine, he issued a decree telling people to take a trip to their hometown! Everyone; whether they wanted to or not, who was not living in their hometown had to take a trip to be counted for the census. Much like our time today, the people of Rome were also in a state of unrest and turmoil.
God was not surprised by the census and used these events to fulfill scripture. In fact, God uses the outcomes of these events as a means to fulfill the prophecies declared about Jesus and reveal the truth of God’s nature to us.
It is because of the census that Jesus was born in Bethlehem as foretold by the prophets. Micah 5:2 says, “Bethlehem Ephrath, you are one of the smallest towns in the nation of Judah. But the Lord will choose one of your people to rule the nation—someone whose family goes back to ancient times.” (CEV)
The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 105km and would have taken a number of days travel. Women who are in their final days of pregnancy are often encouraged to rest and stay close to home. It is no wonder that Mary, after bouncing on the back of a donkey for 100 km went into labour. She was ready to give birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. A prophecy is a promise that the prophets of old gave and God would fulfill one day. God was true to his promise that He would bring a leader out of Bethlehem.
As Bethlehem was considered a small town, it is understandable that many people who grew up there moved away to seek more opportunities in bigger towns. However, a small town would have great difficulty hosting a multi-generational family reunion! God knew what kind of lodgings Mary and Joseph would find in such a small town. Mary’s birth to her son in a stable and Jesus manger bed would give evidence to the position of humility which Jesus took upon himself.
Philippians 2:6-8 says that Jesus “existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient.” (TPT)
Although the circumstances of COVID are difficult, God uses opportunities in these times to reveal himself to me. Typically, the coming of Christmas means that there are many extra activities and to-do’s on my list. This year, many of those extras have been laid aside and I can enjoy quiet times of freedom. I am discovering rich ways of interacting with family. God has brought forward new ways of reviving old friendships, new ways of connecting with people and new ways of connecting with Him.
There were many changes happening during the time of the census and God used those changes to fulfil prophecy (and promises) and declare truths about himself. With the many changes happening during this year, take some time to identify what promises God is standing by, and what new truths God is revealing about Himself.
Shared by Wendy Stirbet