“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem—(because he was of the house and lineage of David)—to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”
Although our sinful world can be quite oppressive at times, we must remember the Lord God is still in control and will use us/everything to accomplish His Will.
No one likes them. Especially when they’re excessive.
But, they’re a “necessary evil” intended to better our way of life—although, sadly, too often they’re used to line the pockets of greedy, unscrupulous politicians, special interest groups, contractors, etc.
Such was certainly the case in Joseph and Mary’s day.
King Herod the Great, one of Antipater’s two sons, was appointed by his father as governor of Judea and would rule there from 37 B.C.-4 A.D. Ironically, he was an Edomite (a descendant of Esau) by birth. So, that might explain why he was initially conscious of Jewish national and religious feelings and moved slowly on things like taxation, Hellenism, religion, etc. He even helped improve relationships with the Jews by preventing the Romans from raiding and defiling the Temple.
However, over the years his empathy for the Jews subsided. He began enforcing his policies with fierce cruelty because of his fear of the people’s revolting. A part of his fear was likely rooted in his guilt over having murdered his wife, Mariamme I, and their two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, after they discovered his dastardly deed.
Thus, we must believe his enforcing of Caesar Augustus’ decree “that all the world should be taxed” and its accompanying census (vv.1-2) were just other ways to exert government control. And, such control cared naught if it inconvenienced folks—or if it forced a nine-months-pregnant woman and her husband to have to travel a long distance on a donkey.
There’s no doubt the couple. . .still dealing with others’ gossip and the angelic visitor’s announcement. . .saw this as but one more hardship in their lives. It would have been easy for their disillusionment to give way to resentment and bitterness, which would rob them of their “joy in the journey” on the way to Bethlehem.
But, let us believe, instead, in quiet obedience they gathered their things together. And, in quiet obedience they slowly made their way to that City of Bread, the hometown of Joseph and his family. Instead of fuming over the insensitive injustice of it all, they reflected on Gabriel’s words to them (Lk. 1:26-38; Mt. 1:18-25). . .his words to Zacharias and Elizabeth (Lk. 1:11-25) . . .and what happened that day when Mary visited Elizabeth (Lk. 1:39-80). May we always remember the living Lord has everything all under control and even now is quietly directing the events of history, moving them toward His desired, designed End. Then, may we, like Mary and Joseph, continue to be moldable and usable in His Hands as we go about our daily lives.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated December 22, 2009