Morning Reading for January 17

Luke 2:1-7
Suggested further reading: Psalm 31:9-20

The sceptre was practically departing from Judah (Gen. 49:10). The Jews were coming under the dominion and taxation of a foreign power. Strangers were beginning to rule over them. They had no longer a really independent government of their own. The `due time' had come for the promised Messiah to appear. Augustus taxes the world and at once Christ is born.

It was a time peculiarly suited for the introduction of Christ's gospel. The whole civilized world was at length governed by one master (Dan. 2:40). There was nothing to prevent a preacher of a new faith going from city to city and from country to country. The princes and priests of the heathen world had been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome had all successively proved that `the world by wisdom knew not God' (1 Cor. 1:21). Notwithstanding their mighty conquerors, poets, historians, architects and philosophers, the kingdoms of the world were full of dark idolatry. It was indeed `due time' for God to interpose from heaven and send down an almighty Saviour. It was `due time' for Christ to be born (Rom. 5:6).

Let us ever rest our souls on the thought that our times are in God's hands (Ps. 31:15). He knows the best season for sending help to his church and new light to the world. Let us beware of giving way to over-anxiety about the course of events around us, as if we knew better than the King of kings what time relief should come. `Cease, Philip, to try to govern the world,' was a frequent saying of Luther to an anxious friend. It was a saying full of wisdom.

The prophet Micah had foretold that the Christ would be born at Bethlehem. God overruled the time when Augustus decreed the taxing and directed the enforcement of the decree in such a way that Mary must needs be at Bethlehem for the birth. Little did the haughty Roman emperor imagine he was an instrument in the hands of the God of Israel, carrying out the purposes of the King of kings.

For meditation: God rules (Ps. 115:3) in all things (Eph. 1:11).

These readings (ISBN: 0 85234 420 1) are copyrighted and made available with permission by
Evangelical Press; 12 Wooler St., Darlington, Co, Durham, England, DL1 1RQ