When we think about traveling during the holidays, many things may cross our minds. The joy of seeing family and friends, the beauty of the journey… long lines at the airport, horrible traffic… Travel can be both a joy and a nightmare. Regardless, we do it out of love, wanting to be with those we care about during this blessed time.
But what if the government made you travel to the place you were born, where everyone was a stranger? What if you were required to go to the place of your ancestors, a destination that felt foreign? Imagine that upon arrival, your place of rest was unknown. What if you were pregnant and about to give birth, but the only means of transportation was on the rugged back of a donkey? Not exactly something you would be looking forward to.
So why would Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph, her husband, travel close to 100 miles, across inhospitable terrain, in the last month of her pregnancy? One simple reason – the Roman government made them. According to the Book of Luke, which is also substantiated by historical and archeological records, Caesar Augustus called for a Roman/world census. It was the first census the world had ever seen. Since Mary and Joseph were in the lineage of David, their ancestral home for taxing purposes was Bethlehem.
In the Old Testament, Micah, one of the minor prophet books, says the following:
“And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, you being least among the thousands of Judah, out of you He (Jesus) shall come forth (be born) to Me, that is to become the Ruler in Israel” Micah 5:2
God had foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Yet, on their own, Mary and Joseph would never have gone to Bethlehem. Joseph was a carpenter, and in Nazareth, where they lived, there were plenty of trees for building. Bethlehem had only rocks and shrubs. Neither were of any use to a carpenter. Mary, being with child, would never have traveled by choice.
So God moved heaven and earth to make all the pieces leading to Christ’s birth come together. He did this at just the right time for the promised Savior of the world to be born… in the exact place that was prophesied over 700 years prior.
Could God have whispered in the ear of Mary and said, “Jesus needs to be born in Nazareth, so you need to go…”? Of course – He had spoken to her before and He could do it again. Yet, He chose to move her in another way… by a decree from the most powerful government in the world. Why do you think that is?
I believe that God was showing us something here that we often miss. God was willing to move a government, with great precision, to make His word happen! He made it all transpire in the exact place He foretold. He put it on the mind of Caesar, and the other rulers of the time, to make the people of Israel go to their patriarchal home, for Mary and Joseph, that was Bethlehem. Imagine this being done at the exact time of Christ’s birth!
The reason that is so important to us today, is that God speaks into our hearts. He speaks to us through His word and the Holy Spirit. His promises are real and His power is beyond our comprehension. So I believe that God is telling us through this story, that even when everything seems impossible and the odds are against you – trust Him. When you see no way to accomplish the task – seek Him. When the dream is too big and the call on your life is beyond your capacity to realistically consider – talk to Him. If He ordered it, we can trust Him to help us carry it out to completion. He has the power and will put things in motion just for your good.
You may be in a dark place today, and are not sure how you are going to be able to go on. You may have lost everything you hold dear. I want you to hear me… God has His arms open to you. He wants to walk you out of this valley of darkness or death but you have to seek Him. You may think that you are too far gone, and I will tell you that’s not true. God can reach into the deepest darkest pits of hell and move mountains, governments, and people just for you…. Will you trust Him today? Just try it… He is waiting!
P.S. I can speak these words because I have seen Him do it for me. There have been times in my life where I wanted to die – literally asked God to take me. I have been in some dark places that I could not get out of on my own. God took me by the hand, and led me through those valleys I thought were meant to destroy me. Little did I know, in those dark valleys, He was actually working to restore me. He can do the same for you.