Luke 2 (1)
Pray Psalm 2.7-10.
“I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Sing Psalm 2.7-10.
(Agincourt Hymn: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High)
Proclaim the message far and wide, that God has exalted the Crucified!
From heav’n He sent us His only Son, Who has for us salvation won!
To Christ the Lord be given all who humbly embrace Him and on Him call.
Be wise, be warned: His judgment comes to break the prideful, sinful ones.
Read and meditate on Luke 2.1-7.
1. Why did Joseph and Mary go up to Bethlehem?
2. What was Jesus’ first bed?
The apostle Paul wrote, “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4.4). Jesus came to earth at just the right time. The Roman Peace governed most of the world. Greek was a universal language from India to Britain and Gaul to North Africa. Transportation was good and safe. Rome tolerated local religions. Millions lived in squalor, misery, slavery, or all three. All the promises, types, prophecies, and symbols of a coming salvation had long since been completed. God had not spoken to His people in 400 years, and many were longing for yet another Word.
All these conditions made the world ripe for the Dayspring of salvation to be born.
Luke provides the historical setting in which Jesus came into the world. The names of rulers and the registration line up to around 4 BC (vv. 1, 2). Early historians got it slightly wrong. Joseph and Mary had to travel from Galilee to Bethlehem to be registered in his place of birth (vv. 3, 4). The point of the registration was to update Rome’s tax rolls. In Bethlehem no proper accommodations could be secured, so Joseph and Mary took to a stable, where Jesus was born, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in a manger (vv. 5-7).
The world had never seen such a miracle: God becoming Man through the medium of natural birth. Luke treats it like an historical event, which indeed it was. The fullness of the times now would begin overflowing with the grace of God.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (Lk. 2.1). Imagine if that happened today. Everyone would be affected and no doubt angry, and we Christians, sadly, would be screaming about infringed upon religious freedoms and righteously indignant. And in that state of indignation would search for more reliable supreme court justices and more church-friendly politicians. Oh my. The outcry would be tremendous.
But God carefully manages history and all of life. We must learn to rely on Him in that Real World.
“For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another” (Ps. 75.7). He does, we don’t.
We would be better served by focusing on the great exalted One we serve; and studying how to serve Him as we should. This Triune God, has always been; He came to earth in the form of Jesus Who died for us, and rose from the dead that we might truly live. He then sent His Holy Spirit to live in us that we might proclaim His Story.
“The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation! (2 Sam. 22.47).
“Be still and know that I AM God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! (Ps. 46.10).
“For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods” (Ps. 97.9).
“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above the earth and heaven” (Ps. 148.13).
“Therefore God also has highly exalted [Jesus] and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on the earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2.9-11).
And what should we do in the light of this knowledge and truth? As Peter said to his interlocutors: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5.29-32).
It is patently obvious that God does not need our help in ruling the world. He has this under control. He has a whole lot of experience, as He has been doing this since the beginning of time.
What He requires is that we fear Him, love Him, serve Him, learn about Him through His Word and creation, trust and obey Him, and do the good works that He has prepared for us to do in our Personal Mission Field.
Ezra taught us how to pray our way into a better mindset. After repentance, we turn our hearts, minds, dependence and hope back to Him, saying: “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage…God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us…to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins… (Ezra 9.6-9).
Every day is the fullness of God’s time. He was in control then; He is in control now. We can rest in Him and trust Him completely. He’s got this.
1. How can we know that God still controls the nations and events of the world in our day?
2. How should knowing this affect the way we serve God each day?
3. Whom will you encourage today to rest in God’s sovereign rule of the world and its peoples?
The fullness of time was now come, when God would send forth his Son, made of a woman, and made under the law. The circumstances of his birth were very mean. Christ was born at an inn; he came into the world to sojourn here for awhile, as at an inn, and to teach us to do likewise. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 2.1-7
Pray Psalm 2.11, 12.
Thank God for sending Jesus in the fullness of the times, and for His saving mercy to you. With whom will you talk about the Good News of Jesus today? Pray for them.
Sing Psalm 2.11, 12.
(Agincourt Hymn: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High)
Rejoice with fear in Jesus’ grace, and worship before His exalted face!
Beware His anger and judgment grim: How blessed are all who rest in Him!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.