God's arrival on earth
God’s Arrival in Bethlehem Luke 2:1-7
The greatest birth in the history of man was the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. Charles Ryle-"Every birth of a living child is a marvelous event. It brings into being a soul that will never die. But never since the world began was a birth so marvelous as the birth of Christ". The birth of Christ was the first of his two arrivals on earth. Apart from his birth there would be no salvation for mankind.
The birth of any child brings great joy. I’m sure we can remember the circumstances of our children’s birth. But, this birth was something special in all facets. This was a special life from the conception to the ascension. It was a life not for self but for mankind.
I.The Decree of Caesar (1-3)
God never forgets a detail. Not only did he have to arrange the birth of the savior but he also had to arrange the location.
A. The person of the decree
1.God was now using a lost man for His glory. He used a pagan to change the course of history and to fulfill prophecy.
a. Micah 5:2-
2. Caesar Augustus(his given name was Gaius Julius Caesar Octavious) was a proud and arrogant person. G. Campbell Morgan said, "When he became Imperator, and the matter was under discussion as to what title he should assume, he declined to be called Dictator, which suggested a temporary office. He declined also to be called King, as it did not signify enough. In consultation with the Roman Senate, this name [Augustus] was created for him." The name comes from "August" and means exalted, something with great majestic dignity and grandeur. The name meaning reflected the desire and later efforts of Caesar Augustus to be viewed as God by the people. He was not the first or last ruler who acted so blasphemously.
B. The purpose of the decree
1. The decree was given to take a census of the people. The word “taxed” means to enter into a list.
a. A.T. Robertson observes- “It was a census not a taxing, although the taxing usually followed and was based on the census.
b. The famed Bible scholar Frederic Louis Godet of France stated that "the term apographe [taxed] denotes among the Romans the inscription on an official register of the name, age, profession, and fortune of each head of a family, and of the number of his children, with a view to the assessment of a tax." So the decree ordered a census which is very much like the census taken periodically in our nation.
C. The perimeter of the decree
1. “All the world” was applied to the roman Empire as they took in much of the civilized world.
a. The decree would affect many people. But we are focused on only two. The world’s news media wouldn’t focus on them but God and His Angels did.
D. The prompting of the decree it came to pass
1. God’s promised was fulfilled just as he said it would be. God never forgets a promise.
2. The real power behind the decree was God almighty. Caesar wanted to be divine but God was just using him. God in His great power moved the most powerful earthly ruler in the world at that time to issue a decree that would get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Christ could be born according to Divine promise.
II. The Dislodgement of the citizens
A. The cause-
1. The decree of Caesar caused many people to go to the cities of their birth to register.
2. This caused great confusion because as in any age many had moved great distances from their birth city.
a. This shows what great lengths God will go to in advancing his kingdom and fulfilling his promises.
b. Harry Ironsides- to fulfill a prophecy God has set the whole world in motion.
B. The couple (4-5)
These two verses zero in on the main focus of this section- Caesar wasn’t the main character as he supposed.
1.Their compliance- Mary and Joseph were law abiding citizens.
a. Laws of the nation as long as they aren’t against God are to be obeyed. It may not be convenient but it is right to obey them.
b. Christians ought to be law abiding citizens of anyone is.
2. Their city-
a. The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem was approx. 75 miles. Not only was it a long way to walk on a dusty dirty road but Bethlehem was also at 2300 feet above sea level. This meant much of the trip would be over mountainous terrain.
b. Compliance not convenience should be our attitude towards God’s and man’s laws.
a. Mary was nearing the end of her pregnancy.
III. The Delivery of Christ (6)
A.The providence – and so it was
1. Here is the climate of the prophecy- Christ was born in Bethlehem as it was prophecies some 700 years earlier.
2. For years now the circumstances hadn’t looked good that God would pull this off. But, God is not moved by circumstances.
a. Circumstances do not stop God from accomplishing their promises.
3. The timing of God is always in order. We often worry about God’s timing but he is always on time.
B. The person she brought forth firstborn son
1. Firstborn- Firstborn" not only means first in succession but also denotes rank. As Morgan said, "The simple meaning [here] is that Jesus was her eldest child, the firstborn Son. But there is in it a larger meaning [here]. Firstborn does not mean only first in time; it means also first in place, first in order, first in importance."
C. The place- and laid Him in a manger
1. You wouldn’t except to find the savior of the universe to be in a feeding trough. Humbling isn’t it. That is just what God expects.
2. This place is a great contradiction to Christ’s character. This contradiction would be typical of Christ.
a. While trashy characters are elevated and set on thrones- Christ is still being kicked around. Gambling is accepted into society Christ is not- homosexuals are accepted into society Christ is not.