Prophecy and Providence
December 10, 2013 4 Comments
The world has always known political oppression — and God’s people have frequently lived under it. This is a fact of history that American Christians tend to forget because for more than 200 years Americans have enjoyed a certain level of liberty. And, when American Christians begin to experience a rise is political oppression, one of their very first reactions is to pray for the removal of said oppression because it is a clear violation of their rights.
World history goes back much farther than the 200-plus years America has been on the scene — much of it marked with God’s people living under oppression. And, if God is sovereign over all things (and He is), then this has happened with His full intent.
Consider the oppressive nature of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. He was concerned only with his own power. Yet, God allowed Caesar Augustus to reign over God’s own people NOT because Caesar Augustus was a worthy ruler, but because Caesar’s oppressive rule served God’s purposes. Caesar was nothing more than a tool in God’s hand — even when issuing decrees intended to benefit himself…
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 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, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. — Luke 2:1-5
It didn’t matter that a journey to Bethlehem would be quite uncomfortable for a pregnant woman and potentially dangerous for her unborn child. Caesar gave an order and it was to be followed. Such is the nature of tyrants. But Caesar was not really in charge here, was he?
The child Mary carried was the long-awaited Messiah — Jesus. And, if prophecy was going to be fulfilled (and there was never a doubt that it would), then Jesus was going to be born in Bethlehem.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. — Micah 5:2
God made sure Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem prior to the birth of our Lord and He used Caesar to do it…
The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. — Proverbs 21:1
This should be a great comfort to believers everywhere. God’s purposes are accomplished and His timing is perfect. As Christians, if we find ourselves living under the oppression of an evil government, we need to remember that it is only because our King has allowed it to happen. But, you may still wonder, “what about our rights that are violated by wicked men?” The apostle Paul reminds us of our proper place…
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
If God ordains that we live under the oppression of wicked men then let us trust in Him who “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Let us trust that He is accomplishing His purposes and conforming us to the likeness of His Son. Let us pray as Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.” And, if we can’t see the hand of providence unfolding in our own circumstances, let us look to the evidences God has provided in the past. Remember, Caesar thought he was in charge — but his reign ended thousands of years ago.
Our King is still on His throne.