A Jewish girl was taken and made the Queen of the King of Persia. It was a less than ideal situation. This King was violent and moody, a volatile combination. The girl went hesitantly and concealed her Jewish nationality. This forced marriage was not the type of situation that you might expect God to work through. However, that is precisely what happened. This King of Persia gave an order for all the Jews to be killed, because a Jewish man refused to bow down to the King’s official. This Jewish girl was able to muster the courage to ask the King to spare her people, and this moody King listened. The Jews living in Persia were spared from death, all because of her. Her name was Esther (see the Book of Esther). Sometimes God works in mysterious ways. This is precisely the kind of thing that happened when Christ was born.
Like the King of Persia, Caesar Augustus was not the type of person one would expect to be used by God. He was certainly not a worshiper of the Lord Almighty; he was a Roman Ruler through and through, usurping power wherever he could. Yet, he declared the census that caused the birth of the Messiah to take place where God said it would take place. When Jesus’ mother was pregnant, his census led her and Joseph to travel to Joseph’s ancestral home. Their eighty-mile travel fulfilled a seven-hundred-year old prophecy. The Lord had spoken through the prophet Micah, seven-hundred years before, declaring, “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… (Micah 5:2).” It was in Bethlehem that our Savior was born. The gospel writer Luke describes the birth, saying: “…she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them (Luke 2:7).”
Our Savior did not come in the way we might have expected him to. God was working mysteriously behind the scenes through an unbelieving Roman ruler. Yet, everyone who witnessed those events – shepherds, angels, and others – knew God was working through them. Amidst the woes, crisis, disasters, and violence we witness in our day, we may be tempted to think God cannot work through these things. Take courage, because God has accomplished miracles through the madness of men, and he can do so again!
May you have a blessed Christmas, from Pastor Mike Birbeck and the church family of
First Presbyterian Church Wellsboro!