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).