“So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.” (Luke 2:4-5)
Bethlehem represents those places and times in our lives when God does great things in unexpected ways and places. To say the least, the census was a busy time for everyone in the City of David. But think about this: In the busyness of Bethlehem God quietly and unobtrusively entered into the world. In the busy times of your life be sure you go by the stable, the ‘out of the way places’ to see what God is doing.
Sometimes God chooses to do big things in small or out-of-the-way places, in ways we just may not expect. It can happen where you live if God is there. It requires that pay attention to see what God is doing among the busyness of everything else that may be happening. The work of God was not being done in the busy inn but in the stillness of the stable. God was born in a stable in a little town. Is it time to find a quiet place?
It’s always good to remind ourselves that God knew about Bethlehem long before it happened. What I mean is that Bethlehem was not an afterthought in the mind of God. It was a “before-thought.” Everything about it: the full inn, the available manger, angels singing, and shepherds working in the fields were all details known beforehand. The prophet Micah prophesied about this blessed event in this small town (Micah 5:2). And yet, remember that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem because of a census, a rather normal event (by all accounts). It makes me think that God knows how to get me where I need to be at just the right time. It also makes me trust that God is not caught off guard by either personal or world events.
God knew about the census hundreds of years before it happened. In the same way God knows about the Bethlehem moments in our lives before they happen. So be sure to stay aware because it may very well be that “normal” circumstances are leading you to a Bethlehem moment. That is to say: a moment when you probably would have preferred to be somewhere else doing something else. All of us have had moments like that. Think about it, God may have planned for you to meet him there in a way that you have never seen him before.
Doesn’t it always seem that we don’t see the full intent of God until after? E read the Bible backwards form a vantage point of 20/20 vision. We see that God has always been at work. He brought Joseph and Mary through Bethlehem. He took Jonah through the belly of a great fish. He took Joseph through a pit and prison. He took Daniel through a lion’s den and the three Hebrew boys through a fiery furnace. That represents a lot of smelly, scary, painful, hot circumstances. We can’t always see exactly what God is doing but can be assured that God is always doing something according to his will. God is faithful.
“Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31)