Summary: In times of trouble fomented by anti-Christian and anarchist rulers of darkness, mature Christians experience the excitement of the announcement by God's Messengers of the birth of the Savior, Christ the Lord!
BLESSED BE THE LORD GOD OUR FATHER’S ANGELS WHO ANNOUNCED OUR SAVIOR’S BIRTH
Among multiple tasks assigned to me in my ministry of Christian education, the making of announcements was not considered by me to be the least of them.
One Sunday morning years ago, following a service in which I had done my making of announcements, a sincere young man asked me, “Mr. Cunningham: What do you do besides make announcements?” My answer: “Come and see.” (My invitation to him was to spend a week with me to see all that goes on in the background to make things happen.)
If Gabriel and angels from the realms of glory could serve God effectively by making announcements, why not me? Nothing to me is more fulfilling than to tell people about the wonderful blessings God has in store for them if they trust Him, . . . if they “come and see”. Moreover,
The excitement of belonging to God’s Fellowship does not end with the hearing of an announcement about what’s going to happen. Excitement builds, and is fully realized, as we work together with God and others to help make good things happen in the lives of all who “come and see”. Experience is the best teacher!
The mystery and miracle of God’s Story of Redemption began so long ago that it boggles our minds to try to figure out when – not all that important anyway except to say, “In the beginning God . . .”
The earliest known announcement occurred in the Book of Beginnings . . . then, about 4000 years ago, came the call of Abraham through whom it was announced that all peoples on earth would be blessed . . . then about 1000 years after Abraham’s call, Isaiah announced that blessed event of which the sign would be a virgin birth and, according to an announcement by Micah, the place would be Bethlehem . . . then, almost another 1000 years later, lo and behold, while shepherds watched their flock in a field not far from that little town of Bethlehem, the grandest announcement ever made interrupted the silent night - and all glory broke loose!
We’ve talked about His plan of redemption . . . purposes . . . predictions . . . prophesies . . . pronouncements . . . Now it’s time to talk about announcements of the fulfillment of “these things” – which begs the question: “Why now (at that particular time in history when the fulfillment did in fact occur) and how?”
In and through all of these studies, one lesson we’ve learned: Mysteries surrounding God’s Story of Redemption were cleared up so that ordinary folks can understand that those miracles, that served as signs of the fulfillment of all that had been prophesied, occurred providentially - when the time was right in God’s sight.
Thus, the birth of Jesus Christ occurred at the direction of the LORD God! Almighty God used the events of human history to accomplish His holy purpose – clearly established by Luke in the run-up to his account of the Christmas Story – Luke 2:1-7 . . .
Jesus was born according to God’s time and place in a historical context. (What is it about “taxation” that every human being knows? In some form or another, we all pay taxes. “There are two absolute certainties in life: death, and taxes.”)
In order to make sure that everybody gets taxed, there is a census. For us, a census occurs every ten years. For Joseph and his kinfolks, every fourteen years. Whereas we go nowhere to register . . . the head of the household in Joseph’s day, under Roman rule, was required to go on a pilgrimage to his ancestral home town – in Joseph’s case, Bethlehem.
If you’re interested in human personality traits, you might find it odd that a Roman emperor would decree that “all the world” should be taxed – when in fact Rome did not control the whole world --- only the Roman Empire which included Judea. Did Augustus think of himself as being in charge of the whole world?
Caesar Augustus, grand-nephew of Julius Caesar, was born Gaius Octavius BUT he was so clever in consorting with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and other enemies that the Roman Senate gave him the title Augustus (majestic, revered, feared). You might say: They massaged his ego! (“But I thought Herod ruled Judea!”)
Herod the Great, governor of a region that included Judea, was considered king of the Jews, BUT he served at the pleasure of and “under the domain” of the Roman emperor!
Then, to make sure his readers pinpointed the historical setting, Luke points out that Cyrenius was governor of Syria - to the north of Palestine. What it all means is: Citizens of any province under control of the Roman Empire dare not do what they had been ordered to do! Much of the legislative and ruling class in that day was made up of mean politicians!