What Happened in Bethlehem?
Dec 1 – Dec 4
Bethlehem Is a Place of Providence
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 12/02/20
God is in control—always and forever.
Read Matthew 2:1-11.
Herod was surely frustrated, angry even. Dignitaries from the East had arrived at his palace in Jerusalem, seeking an audience with the king—but the King they sought wasn’t him! If a “King of the Jews” had been born, Herod would surely silence Him before He could become a threat to his reign. So he asked the religious leaders where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they told him (Matthew 2:5).
How did they know? Centuries earlier, God had promised His people: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2). Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was not happenstance; it had been part of God’s plan all along.
Though Mary and Joseph were from Nazareth, the Lord disrupted the entire world to bring them to Bethlehem in time for Jesus to be born. He put the idea in Caesar Augustus’ mind, and the emperor issued the decree: a census would be taken—and everyone in the Roman world would have to travel to their ancestral home to register and be counted. It was the providence of God that brought them to the town of David.
I imagine that when Joseph and Mary received news of the census, the trip to Bethlehem seemed like a major inconvenience, especially given Mary’s pregnancy. Similarly, God may be doing things in your life that you do not understand; they may even seem like a terrible inconvenience right now. But the Lord is trying to get you to your Bethlehem—to your providential destination where God will use you for His glorious purposes. Bethlehem reminds us that God’s plans never fail, He is working, and He always keeps His promises.
When the Magi arrived at the house where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were staying in Bethlehem, “they bowed down and worshiped” the child Jesus (Matthew 2:11). An edict from the West and a star from the East had brought the Magi and the Son of God together in Bethlehem—all according to God’s divine providence.
If you ever get discouraged and begin to think that the world is spinning out of control, take heart. No matter what is going on in your life right now, you can trust the Lord. He has it all under control.
Prayer: Father, help me to trust in Your timing and power. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, . . .” (Matthew 2:4-5).