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Jesus Was Born: A Remarkable Display of God’s Providence (Luke 2:1-7)

Lessons from the birth of Jesus Christ, Part Three

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And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7 NKJV)

Jesus’ parents lived in Nazareth of Galilee, since Joseph’s descent was of the family of David from Bethlehem, he set out from there to Bethlehem with his wife Mary to register. The census could be for taxation purposes or to ensure loyalty to the Roman government.

According to Halley, “This was the census of the Roman Empire. Roman historical records place the enrolment of Quirinius in 7 A.D, which was 10 or 12 years after Jesus was born. The historical discrepancy was for a long time troublesome to Biblical students. But in recent years ancient papyri have been found from which it is learned that Quirinius was TWICE governor of Syria. Luke expressly says it was “the first” enrolment. It has been found also that people were required to go their ancestral homes for the census. Thus, the spade of the archaeologist goes on, confirming, one by one, even minutest detail, the historical accuracy of Bible statements.”

The Historical Significance of Bethlehem

It is known as the City of David. Rachel, Jacob’s wife, was buried there. Hebron, the home of Ruth, the wife of Boaz (David’s ancestors), was in the south. Gibeon, the home of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was in the northwest. Gibeon was also the site where Joshua made the sun stand still. West was Socoh, where David defeated Goliath. While on the North is Jerusalem, where Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the magnificent capital of David and Solomon, the scene of the ministry of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the center of God’s age-long effort to reveal Himself to mankind. (Halley)

Furthermore, according to Halley, “the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, oldest church building in Christendom, was built originally by Helena, mother of Constantine the first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire, 330 A.D. There is a cave-like room underneath the church that is said to be the actual manger room in which Jesus was born. There is a tradition that this same room was a part of the ancestral home of David and Boaz and Ruth. In this room Jerome the Latin scholar spent 30 years, making the Translation of the Bible into Latin.”

What an astounding providence!

 

nativity church

Doorway to the Church of the Nativity (Source: http://www.seetheholyland.net)

The Manger

The word ‘manger’ (1:7) in Greek is φάτνη which means a ‘crib’ or ‘stall’ where animal food is placed while the ‘inn’ is ‘a lodging place or guestchamber. (Strong-Lite) It ‘denotes a place for loosing the beasts of their burdens’. Thus, manger here properly denotes ‘the ledge or projection in the end of the room used as a stall on which the hay or other food of the animals of travelers was placed.” (Easton) “Old tradition says that Jesus was born in a cave in the neighborhood of Bethlehem; even so, a place for food for cattle may have been cut in the side of the rock.” (ISBE) The Church of the Nativity fits this description. It is therefore clear that the manger of whatever type, is not located outside of the ‘inn’ as pictured in the present time nativity scenes displays.

manger

A stone manger, probably the type that was used for baby Jesus. (Source: http://www.pinterest.co.uk)

It was prophesied by Micah that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 2:2-5) but his parents is from Nazareth. It was the census that required this humble couple to travel to Bethlehem at the time Mary was about to give birth. Thus, the prophecy was fulfilled through a decree of a pagan empire.

From the time Jesus’ birth was foretold (Part One of this series) to the Visit of Mary to Elizabeth (Part Two), this tiny yet highly favored family was surrounded by controversy. It may have something to do with the mission of the child that was to be born.

His birth (Part Three) could be interpreted by some as filled with coincidence and controversy yet in the mind of Luke it was the fulfillment of a promised that Israel had been waiting for so long. It was fulfilled through the remarkable providence of God.

He is the same God who works with us today in ways we may not always see and understand.

 

References:

Costas, Stergiou. The Word Bible Study Software, 2003-2015.

Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Third Edition. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, Inc., 2002.

Halley, Henry H. Halley’s Bible Handbook. Minnesota: USA: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.

MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2018.

Online:

Bible Gateway. www.biblegateway.com

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