In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. – Luke 2:1-7
I’m sure Caesar had no idea that his simple decree that all the known Roman world should be registered, a type of census that would happen more than once, would still be talked about for thousands of years to come. I’m pretty sure he would have been upset to know that God would use this decree not to speak of the greatness of a Roman emperor but to point to an even greater King whose power, glory and rule will overshadow every ruler in every kingdom in every time period, and whose reign will be acknowledged by all men both great small, whose kingdom will last forever and ever.
I’m also sure that through this decree Caesar wished to show his authority as a king, but in all reality he was simply a tool God used to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy, that according to Micah 5, the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. God in His sovereign power is moving heaven and earth to accomplish his will and will use even a pagan king to get the job done.
Often times our secular leaders care nothing of their ultimate leader. Their agenda is their own glory and self-exaltation. As we read in Matthew 2, there are times when our political leaders are outright hostile to God’s redemptive plan. But we have no reason to fear. God is still sovereign and even wicked rulers are pawns in God’s will.
Often I get urgent e-mails about America’s imminent demise. Our political leaders are threatening God’s will and design for his people! We may get scared and frightened at such news, but God does not. God is sovereign. Proverbs 21:1 tells us “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Psalms 2:1-4 proclaims, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”