It's Friday, Day 20 in the third week of Advent. Reading the Christmas narratives in Matthew are a bit different from Luke. They both contain information about "how" the birth of Jesus took place, and they both involve the Angels. Luke takes us through the experiences of Zechariah and Elizabeth and then Mary to the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem...here's where I find myself "musing" today.
1 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.)
3 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
5 He went there to register
with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
If anything has not changed in 1000's of years it is governing authorities and the exertion of their will on the populations they are over through laws and decrees. Most of the time we are silent...we just do it. Pay the taxes, register for the draft, fill out driver's license renewal forms, etc... We do it because "everyone" has to do it.
Joseph and Mary were from Galilee but Joseph was originally from Bethlehem...about 80 miles to the south. I took this journey 18 months ago. I drove in a car and it still took almost three hours. Hills, valleys, twists and turns, up and down...Israel may be the land of milk and honey, but that's because Cows, Sheep grazing and Bees making honey is about the only thing you can do with much of the land. It's full of high mountains, valleys, and it's more desert-like that it is anything else.
Joseph and Mary travel on donkey those 80 miles...because Caesar had some cockamamie idea that he needed to tax and count all of his subjects. Isn't that typical of power...make people do something regardless of whether it makes sense or not, simply because you can.
BUT, "Ah, Hah"... behind the decree a Sovereign God is at work. Thousands of miles away from Israel sits an emperor who "all of a sudden" thinks I need to tax and count my people...and the beginnings of an ancient prophecy begin to be fulfilled.
Joseph and Mary travel overland to Bethlehem - 80 miles - why?
2 "But you,
Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of
Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from
The ancient prophecy of an Israelite from Israel. Bethlehem means "house of bread"...more on that tomorrow. BUT, here God leads - through a pagan emperor - and this couple, she very pregnant, he probably grumbling about "stupid politicians"....go to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken 600 years before.
Do you see? This is our God. The one who works all things together for the good of those that love him (Romans 8:28)...that's you and me...and we can trust that even today.