Last week we read in Luke chapter 1 how God arranged the lives of three people to orchestrate the birth in human form and the first public acknowledgment of the Messiah. This week let’s look at Luke chapter 2 and Matthew chapter 2 to see more instances of God manipulating history for His purposes. There are many prophecies about the Messiah, and the circumstances of Jesus’ birth and first couple of years had to be drastically yanked around to fulfill just several of them. These “yanks” were impossible for any human to have arranged correctly. This of course means that the odds are impossible to zero that an accidental fulfillment of just these few prophecies could have happened. Just these few.
H/T to the apostle Matthew for most of the details of Jesus’ tumultuous first few years. And how would Matthew know? Because Matthew was a tax collector! And like a certain tax agency today, he had access to all the information! It was not an accident that Jesus called a tax collector to be one of His disciples.
One of the prophecies was that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene. No problem, Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth when Mary’s pregnancy was nearing its end.
“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.) And everyone went to their home 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 of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
Oops. Was the Messiah born in the wrong city?
No, of course not, because the Bible also says,
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2)
That tax was just in time to get the Messiah to the city where He was supposed to be born. And Caesar Augustus thought he was calling the shots in Israel! HA! It is to laugh!
BUT! There was too much loose talk about the birth of a King of the Jews! Shepherds blabbing to their friends and rabbis, wise men who turned out not to be so wise – the news was soon all over the net. I mean neighborhood. Unfortunately it came to the ears of Herod, the Roman who had been appointed “tetrarch” (king) by Marc Antony over the rebellious nation of Israel. The Roman rulers of Israel had already had more than they wanted of Jewish rebellion. Herod co-opted the “wise men” to pinpoint the location of the infant King of the Jews. (So he thought.) Because Herod was ahead of his time. He was planning a post-natal abortion. A Jewish King would have been an inn-convenience to him.
BUT! The “wise men” were warned in a dream not to return to Herod with the target location, and Joseph got a warning too:
“Now when [the wise men] had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! Take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ ”
In fact, when Herod realized he wasn’t going to get the requested information, he went hog-wild and had every child in Bethlehem the predicted age of the King of the Jews or under, murdered.
So the Messiah’s actual birthplace is abandoned. Another glitch? Nope. Because the Bible says, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called My son out of Egypt.” (Hosea 11:1)
I know, that doesn’t sound like a Messianic prophecy to me either. But Matthew quotes it as such: Matthew 2:15. He specifically says, “…This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet…”
I’m not going to argue. It does say “Son”, although the original context applied to Israel and the Exodus. But it’s God’s Word, and when the Holy Spirit tells a human author to apply a Scripture in a certain way, I’m not going to argue. You thought Gabriel had a short fuse, sheesh …
So the Messiah, Who was supposed to be called a Nazarene, yet was born in Bethlehem, is now in Egypt. The last time the Israelites went to Egypt, they were stuck there for 430 years, and the last part of it was misery and slavery.
BUT! Herod being mortal, he died, and an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him, “Rise! Take the child and his mother and return to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
So Joseph headed back to Israel, apparently intending to go back to Bethlehem, where his family lineage was. Remember, he had left in the dead of night, and there were probably relatives wondering whether he and Mary and their infant son were alive. At least they’d want to see their kinfolk again. Have a beef BBQ and catch up on the local news. Sing and dance because they got out of Egypt in a lot less than 430 years this time.
BUT! Joseph learned that the son of Herod was now ruling in Judea (where Bethlehem is located) so he went instead – take a wild guess – yes! Good for you! – back to Nazareth.
So much for the beef BBQ. And so much for Matthew 2 and Luke 2, at least in this installment. And it all started with a tax. Makes you look at your 1040 a little differently, doesn’t it? :E
Next week, God, the weather, and Duckie permitting:
Whispers Of The Supernatural !