Hand of God
Hand of God
Words of Faith 2-26-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to his own town to register.
 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.
There are only a few phrases of scripture that are so identifiable as to actually be recognized in the secular world. This is one of them. Read these five verses over an open microphone at a mall and people will probably stop and listen at least for a moment wondering if it is Christmas. Some will recognize the words as those of Luke. Others will at least identify it as Bible. Still others will recall the script that Linus read in the "Charlie Brown Christmas Special". But of course these words were not penned by Charles M. Schultz.
"Augustus" was a title given to the son of Julius Caesar. The name means majestic, venerable or reverend. Augustus was worshiped as a god, but of course, he was not divine. If Caesar Augustus is remembered for nothing else, he is remembered for his clumsy census of the entire Roman world that forced Mary and Joseph to move to from Nazareth to Bethlehem when she was only days away from delivering a baby. He is remembered for forcing families to travel like refugees to their home towns so that they might be counted and taxed. He is remembered for setting up the scene in which there was "no room in the Inn", a phrase recognized vaguely even by people totally unfamiliar with the Bible.
But all this was not the hand of Augustus. This was the hand of Almighty God. Augustus was the tool God chose to fulfill the prophecy in Micah 5:2 that the Messiah of God would be born in Bethlehem, the city of David. And these are the phrases that the historian Luke chose to root the Gospel of Jesus into the historic setting in which they occurred.
The great truth here? The events of the coming of Jesus did not happen in just any time or place. They happened in a very specific time and place. This is not a fairy tale or moral parable. God chose to act clearly and decisively by entering into human history exactly the way He wanted.
The Son of God was born in the most humble of places to a poor family that had been displaced by politics and power. Like the vast majority of people on planet earth, this little family appeared to be wholly subject to the whims and winds of economics and power, but something bigger was going on here. God was in charge. Caesar Augustus issued the decree, but it was God who was setting the stage, moving things in place for His great plan.
This same God Almighty is active today. He is not doing the same work, because, this work is accomplished. But He is doing other work. The political power currents of this world may move people and families about. The winds of weather and economics may relocate people and dreams. But God is still in charge. We may not see the purpose of various events for many years. Luke did not pen these famous phrases until about 60 years after these events occurred. God was in charge. He still is.
Father, help me to trust in Your mighty hand even when I cannot see it. Help me to hold to Your majestic plan even when it seems things are off course. May all things be arranged for Your glory. In Jesus' name.