Saturday, December 19, 2009

Divine Appointments

A divine appointment is when God leads someone, who usually doesn't know he or she is being led, to a certain place, at the perfect time, to accomplish a specific purpose. The Bible records hundreds of these divine appointments, and Joseph and Mary's trip to Bethlehem was not only a divine appointment, but also fulfilled an ancient prophecy.

In the Old Testament, Micah prophesied 700 years into the future and pinpointed the town of Bethlehem as the birthplace for the Messiah. "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah . . . from you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel, His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2). Out of all the cities on the entire planet, God circled tiny Bethlehem on the map.

Now here's the problem. The virgin Mary and her husband Joseph lived in Nazareth, not Bethlehem (***see note on Nazareth below). They had no intention of traveling to Bethlehem to give birth, so how would they get there to fulfill the prophecy?

In what can only be described as an act of God's sovereignty, the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census be taken, which required everyone to return to their original cities (Luke 2:1-5). This forced Joseph to return to Bethlehem because he was of the house and family of David. Caesar was just a pawn in God's hand, and the Lord used a pagan king to get Mary to Bethlehem at just the right time to give birth to Jesus and fulfill Micah's prophecy!

NEVER FORGET THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL. Even when humans misuse their free will. Even when evil seems to be prevailing. God can overrule what man does, and He always has the last word. Always.
Have a Merry Christmas,
Kent
***I led a tour group to Nazareth in October 2008, where we saw a wine press hewn out of the bedrock and a rock quarry that dated back to the 1st Century. To see pictures of these, go to http://www.nazarethvillage.com/research/content/wine-press