Merry Christmas! Sorry about the intermittent blogging last week but I was struggling with strep throat. But I’m better now and back at it this week. Being that this is Christmas week, I’ll be writing about how the Christmas story is good news.
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7 (NKJV)
At first glance this passage doesn’t seem to have much to say about God being sovereign over all. From all outward appearances it seems as though the God of Israel has lost all control. His people have been conquered. Those He had chosen to rule had been deposed. Pagans now lorded over His people and His land. These pagans imposed terrible taxes upon them. The pagans executed the people of God without remorse or opposition. Then they issued decrees that would require tremendous effort for the people of God to obey. In all reality, this decree was little more than a way for Rome to get a better sense of how many people lived in Judea so they could tax them more. No, the God of Israel doesn’t seem all that sovereign in this passage.
Another problem that we find in this passage is that Mary the mother of Jesus and her husband Joseph lived in a place called Nazareth. It was getting to be time for Jesus to be born and Mary, Joseph and the unborn baby were still in Nazareth. The reason this poses a problem is that God had said hundreds of years before through the prophet Micah that the Messiah would be born in a town called Bethlehem. Bethlehem was about 100 miles away from Nazareth.
So God is planning on bringing the Messiah into the world to fulfill His promise but there are problems. Pagans ruthlessly rule over His people and the woman He has chosen to be the mother of the Messiah lives around a hundred miles from the place that the Messiah is supposed to be born. These things would both be problems if God were not sovereign over all. But since God IS sovereign over all, then this is an opportunity instead of a problem. It is an opportunity for God to show off a bit by doing the unthinkable. God will cause a pagan to issue a decree that will result in the earthly mother and father of His Messiah having to go to Bethlehem. He will also time things in such a way that they will arrive safe and sound and just in time for the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem just the way He said it would happen.
It is so important for us to understand and trust that God is sovereign over all. The reason we have to understand this is that there are going to be any number of issues that come up in our lives that will be far beyond our control. Many times the circumstances that are beyond our control are negative or painful circumstances. If we don’t understand and trust that God is sovereign over all then it can lead us to despair over our circumstances and situation.
For many of us this will require a massive shift in our thinking. I say this not because we don’t believe that God is sovereign over all but because our worldview only finds comfort in sovereignty of God when things are going well.
Many Christians can only find comfort in the sovereignty of God when they find money they didn’t know they had at just the time they need it.
Many Christians can only find comfort in the sovereignty of God when their car slides off the road and no one is hurt.
Many Christians can only find comfort in the sovereignty of God when a previous bad test result suddenly turns good.
However, the sovereignty of God brings no comfort or encouragement at all when things go bad. What we want to think, whether we say it or not, is that God is in control when things go good for us and He’s not in control when things go bad. The problem with this is that it does not describe the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is just as much in control when things go bad as He is when things go good. God was sovereign over all when Israel thrived and God was sovereign over all when Israel was conquered.
The story of reminds us that God is sovereign over all. He worked all things in such a way that His Messiah would be in the right place, at the right time to fulfill the promise He had given. God was sovereign over all things then and He’s sovereign over all things now. There is great hope in knowing that God is sovereign over all.