Luke records the Census that the emperor Claudius Caesar obligated the mass migration of peoples across the empire to their home town to register their ancestry and for Joseph, Mary and the coming Lord it meant being in Bethlehem, to fulfil prophetic scripture.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Lk 2:1–5). (2016). Crossway Bibles.
This last day or so God has drawn my attention to this event as part of the Christmas narrative.
When you consider that nearly 2 years have gone by, two very difficult years, for which many Bible teachers, prophets, pastors and priests have encountered the greatest challenges, and the measures of a governmental level have come to redirect our lives force-ably. Some of these movements we will examine today, because desires to speak to us, show us, and enlighten us, that we have not lost God, and He has not lost us.
Our dislocation brings us directly to the place God wants usBethlehem is the place the Messiah came and it will be where He will return.
For Mary and Joseph it was a costly journey physically, but have we imagined what this decree did in terms of the chaos on the Roman roads, the migration en masse? We tend to focus on just Mary and Joseph, and yet we do not see that their dislocation was part of a mass movement of people. People move for various reasons and recently we have had a spate of economic migrants, where poverty and the will to survive has motivated the extensive journeys of many. It would take many people weeks and months to complete the journey for the Census. It was not the first, it seems that Syria had one such Census, now it is the whole empire. You can just imagine political commentators with the enquiries concerning what was motivating these government decrees. What we know specifically is that it was this Decree that God Jesus where God had spoken through the mouth of Zechariah concerning Bethlehem. The coming of Jesus where He was born, every detail is prophetically spoken, how it would happen in Isaiah 7 and in Zechariah to intimate and intricate detail. How God Jesus unborn from Galilee to Bethlehem is not short of moving the heart of the Emperor and moving a whole people group to do it.
Surely through this pandemic it seems much has moved to a different demographic altogether, there is pain when there is a whole movement of mentality, economy, theology, policy, and it was no different in the time that Jesus was born. We do not seem to reflect on these details. It surely must have been an insecure time in which people must obey Caesar’s decree. There are the same traits today. We must take heart that however it looks now, even as it looked to the Apostle John, the fall of the Roman Empire, must have been akin to the Kingdom of God coming in fulness. Yet 2000 years on, we have seen kingdoms come and kingdoms go. It may be we are seeing the same process. However we look at it, if God the Father knew how to get His Son to the place He needed to be as Messiah, He is more than able to cause us to fulfil His prophetic purpose for us. So if you find you are forceably moved from one place to another take encouragement that God is placing you where His purpose can be fulfilled.
A cave and a manger were not too low for an audience and a birthplace for the King of kings and Lord of lords.Jesus was born in secret, and His Coming was known by those who the Father cared to invite.
There is a contrast between the 1st Advent and the 2nd Advent, Jesus coming however prophesied was still secret to the masses. Only shepherds, Magi saw Him. The 2nd Advent however prophesied will be seen by all. Where in the 1st Advent He came to redeem in the 2nd He comes to reign. Here those who have already received Him, shall receive their eternal reward, those who have rejected Him shall face His coming with fear and terror, because they know Him not. Where in His 1st Advent He invited those He prepared, those He announced through angels, so all shall present themselves before the Throne of Judgment, the cave becomes a Heavenly castle, the Manger becomes a Majestic Throne. If Jesus comes to a humble place to be born, to be adored by those whom the Father draws, how much more the humble heart the Father chooses to draw. The Christmas story is full of journeys, the Magi travelling from the East, many miles and many months. How many spiritual journeys have we undertaken in the most difficult 2 years of our lives.
So this Christmas the humble “cave” of our hearts and the “manger” of our expectations must invite Him, whilst the busyness of the streets of a migrant people, all of us being migrants in one way or another, not being in the same place this time next year. If we can just separate ourselves from the “Christmas” the world celebrates and embrace the spirit of that 1st Advent we will find it change us forever.
The signs in the heavens testify to great heavenly shifts and earthly reception of great changeJesus’ arrival on earth was accompanied by a star, choirs of angels, lights, that shook even Herod, because earthly structures are shown fragile in the shadow of heavenly light!
Joel 2 foretells of a time when the 2nd Advent like the first will have testifying phenomenon in the heavens, like never before seen. It is all testimony to the fact that the King of kings arrives in whatever form He comes, to shake and to impact those who understand what this means. In fact Herod knew well by the Scripture, by the Magi, something great was happening, but instead of wanting to be part, he was going to see Jesus to kill this off. Is it not the prophetic understanding that the future regimes will try to kill off a Church where Jesus is revealed in glory?
The signs in the heavens are foretold in Malachi 4 and Joel 2, part of a great period of reconciliation and spiritual move of the Holy Spirit. I am sure 2022 will mark some of the signs that we must see and recognise. As much as world empires decree and impose, so Jesus will come into that generation to shake and to disturb. As this is going on, we must ask God to enlighten us where we stand in this scenario. We have not missed God if we have followed His directives the last few years.
What happened to me in January 2020 with a near death experience shook me deeply, but it has helped me to direct me and I know it worked FOR me, something that only I will know in eternity. So those small details in the Decree, the Journey, the Cave, the Magi, will pave the way for eternity where every tear, anguish shall be taken away, and where the King has established His Throne so harmony and ecstasy shall be lived out. It shall come in via the passing of this earth and the heavens, and a new heaven and earth shall come.
The city of David, where he was the minor, least and the anointing lifted him to kingship is the same place where the baby is the eternal King
Bethlehem was where Samuel is sent with his horn full of oil, and who is anointed is the least of the family of Jesus. The Church needs to become a Bethlehem where the least shall flow in Messianic oil. Jesus says in Revelation 22: I am the Root and Offspring of David. He who man did not value, did not esteem, is made the King. So as Revelation 1 lifts us from mere sinners, to sons, to kings and priests, we need to come to Bethlehem, it is there that the “lifting” comes. Is it not the Apostle who says not to weary in doing good that our exaltation would come in due time? Christmas and Bethlehem is about this change, it is about being suddenly lifted, “Arise, shine for your light has come!” says Isaiah 60. The 2nd Advent is all about that, after great tribulation we are lifted, from affliction and adversity to our place in glory. We need to reflect on these things, because our migrant status in this world is coming to an end, and the Christmas story, precisely in the place where the kingly anointing grew on David, where Christ also grew for 2 years. The Kingly must grow on us as we receive Bethlehem as our stopping place this season.
There is a sense of weariness in the saints, after nearly 2 years of uncertainty and restriction, and examining the elements of the Christmas story we begin to see God’s actions in bringing everything to perfection. May we gain that perception so that we can embrace the new year not in fear but faith.
Maranatha! Come Lord.