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Thursday, September 29, 2016

King of Kings (Luke 1:1-4a, 5a)

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor over Syria? And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went register with Mary..."

God's rule in the affairs of world rulers and their decrees is seen in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Caesar Augustus issued a decree that moved one small family to Bethlehem. Like most governmental decrees this one inconvenienced the poorest of the poor. This decree forced a young husband to travel with his very pregnant wife to a very crowded little village. (Can you imagine having to carry out a census without the aid of computers?)

This is not the first time (or last) in history that God used political leaders to accomplish His own purposes. Throughout Israel's history God raised up one nation after another to oppress Israel with the hopes that this stubborn nation would cry out to the Lord on bended knee and heart. 

That God works within government was evidenced during Israel's exile period when He raised up one official after another to bless Israel and those living in exile. Nebuchadnezzar was one such king. After being humbled by God for His foolish pride, King Nebuchadnezzar praises God for His sovereignty in human affairs, "For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have you done?" (Daniel 4:34b-35) Nebuchadnezzar met the "King of kings".

In 1995 the Lord used the Zimbabwean government to stamp our work permit as "non-renewable" and to move our family back to the U.S. We were happy in our work and had no plans for returning. We knew, however, that God was in control, not the Zimbabwean government. Our high view of God comforted us during this tumultuous period in our life.

Just as God used a seemingly arbitrary decree to move Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus, so God may be using the government that He has put over you to accomplish purposes that you cannot see. Our God is the King of kings, so you can choose either to trust the sovereignty of your great God or live in fear of a government that does not seem to have your best at heart. Your view of God will determine whether you live in peace or turmoil. How big is your view of God?

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Matthew 1; Luke 2:21-40
  • What does God do to protect Mary and to fulfill the Word which He had spoken to her?
  • What fears does Joseph have to overcome as he walks in obedience to God?
  • What does God use to accomplish His plan to have Jesus born in Bethlehem? What does this tell you about God? Governing officials?
  • What happens that causes the shepherds to leave immediately for Bethlehem?
  • Which three women are named in the genealogy? Which one remains unnamed? What does this tell you about the women in Jesus' lineage?
  • Review Genesis 3:15, 4:25. The NKJV version of Genesis 4:25 reads, "God has granted me another seed in the place of Abel." The Luke 3 genealogy reveals Jesus as the promised seed.
  • Why does Mary and Joseph take Jesus to Jerusalem?
  • What does this tell you about them and their relationship with the Word of God?
  • Why was Simeon waiting in the temple and what does he recognize and prophesy about Jesus Christ?
  • Why do you think the Lord was revealed to Simeon and Anna rather than to the "religious" leaders of the city?
Turning truth into prayer
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Pray for our governing officials.