Bible Reading: Luke 2:1-5 & Micah 5:2
Bethlehem was a small country town of about 300 people. It was located six miles south of Jerusalem. It was the birth place of the great king David and the home of Ruth and Boaz. Its only other claim to fame was an ancient prophecy made by the Prophet Micah. Micah had predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
Incredibly, God used the ruler of the civilized worldâ€”Caesar Augustusâ€”to bring about the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem. Although the Bible teaches that heavy taxation can destroy a nation (Proverbs 29:4 ESV), in this incident, it was used by God to fulfill the prophecy of the ancient Prophet Micah. Godâ€™s use of the Roman Caesar and the Roman tax to bring to pass His plans and purposes speaks volumes to us of the providence of God.
Many people mistakenly believe that the world is in the hands of its rulers. The truth, however, is that the worldâ€™s rulers are in the hands of God. Proverbs 21:2 teaches us that â€œthe kingâ€™s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will.â€ God uses this worldâ€™s rulers to bring about His plans and purposes. They are mere human pawns in the hands of divine providence (Exodus 9:16; Isaiah 44:28).
The Psalmist spoke of menâ€™s pomp as mere pretense, calling â€œmen of high degreeâ€ nothing more than â€œa lieâ€ (Psalm 62:9). The power they seemingly possess is illusionary, since they are only propped up for a short time by the hand of divine providence to serve the purposes of Godâ€™s preordained and unalterable plans. Once theyâ€™ve served their purpose, God blows on them and they wither up and disappear like stubble (Isaiah 40:23-24).
When Pilate claimed to personally possess the power to crucify Christ, our Lord explained to Pilate that the only power he possessed was that which had been â€œgiven [to him] from aboveâ€ (John 19:10-11). In other words, just as God used the civic authorities to bring about the birth of His Son in Bethlehem, He also used them to bring about the death of His Son at Calvary. In both instances, God was calling the shots, the civic authorities were merely visible means employed by an invisible hand in the accomplishing of divine ends!
The first thing that John the Revelator saw when he was called up into heaven was a throne and one who sat upon it (Revelation 4:1-2). We must never forget that Heavenâ€™s throne is always occupied. No matter how out of control things appear to be on this earth, a sovereign God is always seated on Heavenâ€™s throne. This world is not controlled by its presidents, prime ministers and potentates; instead, it is controlled by God, who uses this worldâ€™s governmental powers to bring to pass His inevitable plans and purposes.
â€œI have lived a long time, sir, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men.â€ (Benjamin Franklin)
Our next devotion will be Christmas Day.