Luke 2:1 “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.”
Christ was born under the rule of Caesar Augustus. The second emperor of Rome; given the title Caesar in the same way the rulers of Egypt are called Pharaoh’s. Rome at this time was at the pinnacle of its dominion. So when we read that Caesar made a decree for the entire world to present itself for taxation; the entire world is meant the entire Roman Empire, which was at that time, all of the known world.
There is something very significant to be found in this first verse, and that is the impeccable timing of Caesars decree. At this time all of Judea was under the subjugation of Rome. This means that Mary and Joseph were compelled to travel to Bethlehem as a result of the emperor’s decree. At the same time all the characters in play from Caesar to Mary, had no idea they were fulfilling Daniels prophecy written in
Daniel 2:44, “In the days of these kings, the kings of the fourth monarchy, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.”
The fourth kingdom Daniel prophesied was the Roman Empire; Babylon, Persia, Greece through Alexander the Great; followed by Rome. God establishes His kingdom on earth with the birth of His Son the Christ, His miraculous works, the preaching of the Gospel, and as King of Kings; He commissions His people to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth by the power of the Holy Spirit, and as Christ stated, “the gates of hell will not prevail.” It does not matter what kind of opposition we may face. Whether it be oppression from antichrist legislation instituted by atheist politicians, or persecution from antichrist organizations such as ISIS, or Al-Qaida; the gates of hell will not prevail!
A second prophecy to be observed is Micah 5:2,
“But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
Several times throughout the gospels Jesus refers to Himself as the bread of life; it is not a coincidence that Bethlehem was known as the House of Bread prior to the birth of the bread of life, which sustains our eternal life. Look how the intelligence of God’s design is revealed in all things. Historically; Bethlehem was also the birth place of King David, whose bloodline ascends up to the lineage of Joseph, Mary’s husband and Jesus’s earthly parent. This prophecy is later confirmed in the book of Matthew 2: 5,6, and John 7: 42,
“Has not the scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”
Consider and reflect now on how amazing the sovereignty and providence of God is. God in His infinite counsel and wisdom orchestrated before time the raising of this fourth kingdom. The raising of Caesar Augustus; and his political inclination to decree a registration in order to induce Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and fulfill foretold prophecy. How amazing is the power and hand of God almighty who raises up empires and causes them to fall; from Babylon to Persia, from Persia to Greece and the Roman Empire. Consider all the good and the evil; all the light and the darkness, the lives and deaths of men; all the peace and all the war that transpired across the earth, which paved the way for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords to be born in one particular location. And, if for one instance, we with our sinful minds happen to think God unholy or to consider Him unfair that He would allow calamity and evil on earth to have the end result in the birth of His son; remember that it was God Himself who sent His son Jesus Christ to the cross on behalf of those of us who will believe in Him. Acts 2:22,23 reads,
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
It was the wicked hands of man who murdered the savior of the world. But it was God who; as it is written delivered Jesus to those men according to His awesome predetermined counsel and foreknowledge; let us square away our theology for a brief moment; by foreknowledge, it is not meant foreknowledge of the acts of men, but foreknowledge of the acts of men because God determined these events to occur. All for the sake of His glory, and to manifest His Holiness against evil, to manifest His righteous judgment, to manifest His grace and mercy for those who would repent of their sins to follow Jesus Christ. God predetermined Jesus Christ to be born in Bethlehem according to the scriptures of Old Testament prophecy to be fulfilled in the New Covenant; the New Covenant which is Christ. Praise God for His amazing sovereign rule over all events of the universe, an amazing power that we, who believe in Jesus Christ can trust in God to finish whatever work He began in us to the day we pass from this earth, and beyond throughout all eternity.