Sometime between the fourth and ninth months of her pregnancy, Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus Christ and her betrothed husband, Joseph, received word of an imperial edict that would require them to leave Nazareth. As Gospel writer, Luke, reports, “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus” Roman Emperor at the time, “that all the world (controlled by the Roman Empire) should be registered,” (Luke 2:1-2, NKJV). Consequently, the couple made their way to a Judean town named Bethlehem. They had to make this seventy to ninety mile trek because as members of the tribe of Judah and descendants of king David, both needed to register there (Luke 2:3-5).
Mary had just traveled to an unnamed “city of Judah” in the first trimester of her pregnancy to visit “Elizabeth,” her “relative” who like her, was the recipient of God’s grace and supernatural power. Elizabeth was enabled to conceive a son by natural means “in her old age.” Their joyous initial interaction is one for the ages (Luke 1:36-56, NKJV)! Now, fully showing in her pregnancy, Mary’s trip to Bethlehem in obedience to the decree of Caesar Augustus with thousands of others from all over Israel would not be as easy. Indeed, it was not intended to be since the inconvenience of the trip was not of God’s perfect, but His permissive will, foreknowledge and prophetic purpose.
Caesar’s census decree at that precise moment in history was of Satan as he continued persecuting and seeking for ways to destroy the unborn Son of God to keep Him from coming into the world!1 A census in and of itself is not evil for the Lord commanded Moses to number Israel as one means to collect an offering to Him designated “for the service of the tabernacle of meeting,” (Exodus 30:11-16, 38:25-26, NKJV). God also commanded Moses to take a census of the males twenty years old and over “who are able to go to war,” (Numbers 1:1-4, NKJV) and did so again after He had punished Israel with a plague that killed thousands (Numbers 25-26:4).
However, it is also written, “Now, Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel,” (1 Chronicles 21:1, NKJV). The king’s motive was the sin of pride for which God punished the nation (1 Chronicles 21:2-17).2 Having the title “Augustus” (meaning “exalted” as one divine), Satan easily moved Caesar in pride not only to know the number of Roman citizens throughout his empire, but non-citizens under subjection to press into his service and tax to finance his ambitions. The Jews chafed under Roman taxation this new census would facilitate and no doubt the burden of traveling to their ancestral regions to register Joseph and Mary now, found themselves doing as well.
Not able to cause the possible destruction of her unborn Son through miscarriage or otherwise during the perilous, untimely journey to Bethlehem, Satan waited in the shadows for an opportunity in the town when the time for Mary’s delivery came (Luke 2:6). The town overflowing with descendants of Judah and David made it very hard to secure a suitable place as the devil anticipated. In the place scholars debate was either a cave, stable or home where animals were sheltered because there was no other room for them, Mary lay in the agony of labor;3 vicariously embodying one of the major purposes of her people, Israel: to be God’s means of bringing His Son into the World (Romans 9:1-5)!
A “great” summary prophetic “sign” the apostle John was later shown affirms the foregoing truth (Revelation 12:1-2, NKJV). “Another sign” in the same prophetic review of messianic history depicts Satan as “a great, fiery red dragon” that “stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born,” (Revelation 12:3-4, NKJV). He was not permitted by God to do so as Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger,” (Luke 2:7; Revelation 12:5a, NKJV). Frustrated yet again, the devil could only look on powerlessly as God sent angels to announce to lowly Jewish shepherds what the nation had been waiting generations for--the birth of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:8-20, NKJV)!
1 Read the December 4, 2022 post, Christ Persecuted Before Birth, under the category, Instruction.
2 As the Lord leads me to address in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, pride is the number one sin of men--saved and unsaved! Our enemy, Satan, knows
just the right recipe of temptations to bring it out of us. Get my book and learn what God has provided for our victory more often than not as aspiring strong men of God in
in the image of Jesus Christ! It is available at your favorite internet bookseller or brick and mortar bookstore and the Strong Man Store.
3 I invite every aspiring great woman of God in the image of Christ to get the Strong Man Of God Audio Resource, Christmas From Eve To Mary to hear three messages the
Lord led me to preach celebrating human femininity as designed by Him! Learn more about this resource, listen to a sample and make your purchase exclusively in the
Strong Man Store.
Knowing from eternity what awaited Him is one thing as the Lord led me to write about in my November 27, 2022 post, it is another thing experiencing the hatred, persecution and suffering that led to His death!1 Satan--who knows from experience the Bible narrative and its prophecies better than even the most studious of believers--sought to prevent Christ’s mortal entry into the world by destroying His godly lineage in advance. He could not (Genesis 3:1-7, 13-15, 4:1-8, 25-26, 17:1-8, 22:9-18, 25:19-26, 49:1-2, 8-12; Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38; Galatians 3:15-18)! Undeterred because of his hatred for God and man, the devil did not stop trying to keep Christ from coming.
Being the Almighty God, the Father was undeterred from bringing His Son into the world in the face of Satan’s fierce hatred because of His love for and consequent desire to save mankind from eternal destruction (Jeremiah 32:26-27; John 3:16-21). In fulfillment of His Word spoken some seven hundred years before through the prophet (Isaiah 7:10-14), God sent “the angel Gabriel” to deliver His message of blessing and “favor” to a “betrothed” Jewish virgin named “Mary.” She was chosen by God for whom “nothing is impossible” to ‘“conceive’” in her ‘“womb’” ‘“a Son’” by the agency of the ‘“Holy Spirit,’” ‘“to be born’” and ‘“called the Son of God,’” (Luke 1:26-38, NKJV).
Only the apostle Matthew records how Satan persecuting Him before birth, might have destroyed the developing unborn Son in His mother’s womb. Discovering her condition however he did, Joseph, Mary’s “husband, being a just (or righteous) man” did not want to expose her to “public” scandal and the very possible condemnation of death by stoning required in the law under normal circumstances for not being a virgin or adultery (Deuteronomy 22:13-24; Matthew 1:18-19, NKJV).2 Stoning Mary to death would have also killed her unborn Child. But God intervened with Joseph by His angel in a “dream” as he wrestled with his troubling marital dilemma (Matthew 1:20a, NKJV).
The angel encouraged Joseph revealing the activity and purposes of God in Mary’s pregnancy. He was told not to fear embracing Mary as his wife because “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” validating her truthfulness and faithfulness. Furthermore, Mary would ‘“bring forth a Son’” and Joseph as His surrogate father given the honor of naming Him, ‘“Jesus,’” because ‘“He will save His people from their sins,’” (Matthew 1:20b-21, NKJV).3 Matthew goes on to also affirm Mary’s virgin pregnancy with Jesus, the Son of God, by the Father’s will and exertion of power to accomplish it “fulfilled” Isaiah’s prophecy (Matthew 1:22-23, NKJV). Too, he reports Joseph obeyed God’s message through the angel and kept his wife’s purity until her Son was born (Matthew 1:24-25).
1 Read the November 27, 2022, Christ The Lamb Slain Before Creation, under the category, Instruction.
2 Speaking of Joseph as “just” refers to his character which God plainly shows is important to Him with also Mary and all of the godly persons named in the Christmas
narrative. He leads me to uphold His shaping and forming of the character of Christ in Christians as the nonnegotiable renewing work He does in us for the present
and eternity in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics. It is available at your favorite internet bookseller or brick and mortar bookstore and the
Strong Man Store. With the Lord’s leading, I also developed a companion curriculum drawn from the book, The Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study and The
Great Woman Of God Women’s Group Study for the equipping of the saints in the home and churches. Get the Leader Kits that contain a Soft Cover Edition of my
book, a respective Leader Guide and Participant Workbook as well as CD-Roms featuring PowerPoint Teaching Assistance, Pledge Sheets and Evaluation Forms
for both studies exclusively in the Strong Man Store.
3 As is commonly explained by most expositors the angel would have used the proper Hebrew and Aramaic for the Lord’s name, “Yeshua,” which means “Yahweh
will save” or “the Lord is salvation” or quite literally to the point, “Savior!” Holy Scripture assures the Lord will respond to His name by whatever language is used
to “call upon Him,” (Acts 2:1-6; Romans 10:11-13, NKJV).
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