Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
—Luke 2:4-5

Have you ever wondered why Mary went with Joseph to Bethlehem? The law required only Joseph, the head of the household, to travel to his birthplace. Why would Mary, who was about to deliver a child, ride on a donkey for 85 miles to Bethlehem? I think there are three reasons.

The first reason is that Mary was so close to birth, Joseph didn’t want to leave her by herself. He wanted to take care of her. The second reason is that Mary had been the subject of vicious rumors about her pregnancy. The story was going around that Mary’s pregnancy was not divine; it was the result of a one-night stand with a Roman soldier. Joseph wanted to spare her from this gossip, so he took her with him. And the third reason that Mary went is perhaps the most important reason. Seven hundred years earlier God had prophesied: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). God had predicted that the place of the Messiah’s birth would be this little town of Bethlehem. So Mary had to go to Bethlehem to bring this thing to pass.

Think about how God used natural events to bring about His supernatural plan. With one stroke of the pen Caesar Augustus signed an edict that had ramifications he could have never imagined. Little did Caesar know that when he signed that order it would cause a man named Joseph to travel to Bethlehem in order that Joseph’s wife might give birth to the King of the universe. Isn’t that amazing? If you asked people at the time, “Who is the most powerful man in the world?” everyone would have said Octavian, known as Caesar Augustus. But the truth is Caesar Augustus was only a pawn on God’s chessboard. God used him to do something he had no idea would result in the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Interestingly, today if you stop people on the street and ask them, “Who was Octavian?” very few people know who Octavian was. But almost everybody knows the name of Jesus Christ. How many people do you know right now who are gathered together somewhere in the world worshipping, praying to, and singing about Octavian? Yet today hundreds of millions of people around the world are worshipping Jesus Christ, and some of them are even paying a heavy price to do so.

God often uses natural events to bring about His supernatural plan. When we watch the news today, we might think the world is spinning out of control–terrorist acts, political upheaval, increasing tensions in the Middle East. But the world is not out of control. As God said, “I am watching over My word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12).

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Back to Bethlehem” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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