Take a walk with me through some of the towns where the story of Jesus took place. Along the way you will meet people who struggled to understand what God was doing. In each town we will learn something significant about what it means to believe God. I’m sure the individuals had doubts, yet they were certain that God had a plan and would carry out His plan. As we walk through these towns, take notice, you may catch a glimpse of yourself and what God is doing in your life.
The second town we come to in the story of Jesus is Bethlehem. This is the town that takes center stage each Christmas because Jesus was born there. Every detail surrounding his birth seems perfectly orchestrated. The new-born baby lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, an angel announcing the arrival of the Great Shepherd to shepherds in the field, and angels singing praise. The one who was before all things and in whom all things hold together entered the world through a stable. It’s a one-of-a-kind story!
“About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. 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 2:1-5, The Message)
Sometimes God chooses to do big things in small, out-of-the-way places, in ways we may not expect. No one expected this. God’s son, the Savior of the world, was born in a stable in the little town of Bethlehem. No one expected that such an important thing could happen there; but it did. It happened because Joseph and Mary believed God and walked in obedience. Just before time for Jesus to be born, a census was called for. Who expected that? God did.
What blows my mind is that GOD KNEW that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem long before it happened. Micah prophesied 700 years before this moment in Bethlehem, that it would happen. God not only knew THAT the Messiah would be born, but He knew exactly WHERE he would be born.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
What led TO Bethlehem and what happened IN Bethlehem were not afterthoughts in the mind of God. They were before-thoughts. He knew there would be a census requiring Joseph to return to Bethlehem just in time for His son to be born there. He knew the inn would be full that day, so he provided a stable. God knew.
God knows about you too! “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Joseph and Mary were called according to His purpose and they believed God to work out the details. You can too.
In Micah’s prophesy God eliminated all other cities and towns in the world as possibilities. Out of all the places where Jesus could have been born, God knew it would be in a tiny village, near Jerusalem. It would not be Jerusalem, the capital city. It would not even be Nazareth where his parents lived. Both cities would have been logical choices, but God called it.
Sometimes God chooses to do big things in small, out-of-the-way places, in ways we may not expect.
By traveling to Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary weren’t trying to fulfill prophecy. They went because that’s what they were required to do. That’s all. They didn’t have a choice in the matter. The government dictated that every person had to return to their hometown; regardless of personal circumstances. Mary was about to give birth to the Savior of the world and yet not even she was exempt from the census! God knew that would be the case. Mary was pregnant, and because of circumstances beyond her control, “while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born” (Luke2:6). So perfect! God knew about all this long before it happened!
I imagine that we’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve thought it wasn’t supposed to be this way or that way. God is working while we are waiting. One way that God works all things together for the good is that he plans ahead. Bethlehem reminds us that God has been at work long before now. We may not always see exactly what God is doing but we can always believe that He is doing something according to his will. Our job is to be obedient which means doing the next right thing. And for Joseph and Mary, the next right thing was to go to Bethlehem.
God is not surprised by either world events, or personal choices. God knew that a census would happen at that exact time in history, requiring Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem whether they wanted to go or not. In the same way that God was aware of the census, I believe He knows about the “Bethlehem moments” that happen in our lives. It may very well be that normal circumstances have brought you to a difficult inconvenient place. Maybe you would prefer to be somewhere different doing something else. Everybody has moments like that. Wherever you are and whoever you are with, honor God in this moment.
Bethlehem reminds us to believe that God knows how to get us WHERE we need to be WHEN we need to be there. We can easily miss the most obvious powerful truth about Bethlehem which is that God knew before. Stay obedient. Embrace what God is doing. He knows how to get you where you need to be to do what He’s called you to do. God had to get you where you are to take you where He wants you to go.
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For more inspiration read Your Life in One Day (click here): https://danholland2819.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/your-life-in-one-day/