In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Luke 2:1-2
Mary and Joseph lived in a little village called Nazareth. Nazareth is southwest of the Sea of Galilee.
Joseph was a working-class man, identified as a carpenter or stone-worker in the Gospels.
Mary was his betrothed wife. They had a formal engagement and were in the one year (or so) period leading up to the formal wedding. It was during this time that Mary became pregnant with Jesus.
Upon finding this out, she visited her cousin Elizabeth for three months and then returned to Nazareth.
Upon her return and her telling Joseph she was pregnant, they apparently moved up the wedding ceremony and began living together as husband and wife.
That was when word came that the Roman government wanted to take a census. This news from Rome was broadcast throughout the region, coming locally from Quirinius, who was governor of Syria – to the north of Nazareth.
There is some debate as to Quirinius’ role in this, that I won’t go into in this devotion.
But it is interesting to me that the government does play a role in this epic journey to Bethlehem and Christmas.
Here in the United States, it is generally understood that when the government gets involved in things, the outcome is not efficient or cost-effective.
I don’t think there has ever been a government program or project that has ever come in under-budget.
One of the funniest quotes about government, that is also illustrative of this, is from Ronald Reagan:
“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Still, the government is in place because of the direct power of God.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Romans 13:1
So, when Rome calls for a census, this was the hand of God moving Mary and Joseph to the little town of Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus!
God uses the government to carry out a very important aspect of his plan of salvation.
I’ve often wondered why God didn’t just ask or tell Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem for this very special birth. It is merely speculation but I suspect it was because Joseph was not inclined to travel such a great distance – 70-90 miles – with his pregnant wife.
And while the Romans were known for their roads, there were only two major roads in Israel and neither of them went through Nazareth nor Jerusalem.
Mary and Joseph would have to walk on minor roads through a countryside that was known for its brigands and highwayman.
While Mary said she was “the servant of the Lord” and would certainly have done what God told her to do, convincing Joseph probably would have been harder.
Not that God couldn’t do it. He had convinced him to continue his marriage to Mary despite her apparent infidelity.
But God chose to use the Roman government to fulfill his prophecy of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem.
This is a good lesson for us today. It is so easy to criticize the government today – on all levels. It has become the favorite pastime of many. But in this pastime, we can miss that God is in control over all – even the government.
It also encourages me to know that if God can use even the government to carry out his plans, he can certainly use me!
As Mary and Joseph travel the last steps of this epic journey of Biblical proportions, it is encouraging and enlightening to know that all is working out according to God’s plan.
©2016 True Men Ministries