A pagan king’s decree fulfills God’s will

If it was a family reunion, or an important meeting in Bethlehem, would Joseph has taken his full term pregnant wife there? I do not think so. The only way for them to be at Bethlehem at that time of the year was because of an Emperor’s decree. Jesus had to be born there, and the only way for that simple couple to make that dangerous and long trip was a decree from a pagan emperor who knew nothing of God’s plan.

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The Bible is clear when it says that our God controls not only our religion or the people who believe in Him, but He controls everything and everybody. The theologians call this providence. Someone defined providence in this way: “Providence is the means by which God directs all things — both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil — toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail.”

In the Old Testament we learn this in a very clear way. God not only created the whole universe and named the stars: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Psalm 147:4.” We also learn that not only the stars were created and are controlled by God, but people too, more explicitly kings: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1.” God controls their kingdoms and their lives. This is what Daniel tells us: “He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21.”

God even goes to specifics naming kings, powerful kings as His servants and anointed ones. This is the case of Nebuchadnezzar, whom God called His servant through Jeremiah: “I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the LORD, Jeremiah 25:9.” We also find this same attitude with Cyrus: “This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: Isaiah 45:1” and “who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ Isaiah 44:28.” In one text Cyrus is called God’s anointed one and in the other he is called God’s shepherd. In all these verses we learn that the lives, decisions, and behaviors of those powerful kings were controlled by God’s will.

This is what we see in the birth of our Lord Jesus, who through a decree of Caesar, He ended up being born at Bethlehem. Through the star, He had communicated with the Magi in a far land almost a year earlier. These examples should convince us that God is in control. This is what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28.”

Our lives are in the hands of the God who not only created the world, but sustains and controls everything and everyone in it. It is this God who created you, who protects you, and who cares for you. He will make sure that His purpose in your life will be fulfilled.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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