Confident In God’s Provision
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Chan Gin Kai
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. (Luke 2:1-3)
God has created the universe and works strategically on world events. But does He love and care for us as individuals too?
Luke was precise as an author. This is one of many examples in his Gospel (and in Acts) where he provided historical references, tying down the story of Jesus to other events that had happened. He wasn’t creating fanciful fiction like the Monkey King or Zeus, but recorded actual history and real events. Jesus is real.
God’s Strategic Provision
Caesar Augustus was one of the greatest emperors of ancient Rome. He was born Octavian, and was the grand nephew of Julius Caesar. Because he was a talented young man, Julius Caesar adopted him as his son and made Octavian his heir. When Julius Caesar died soon after, the rule of Rome was split three ways, between Octavian, Mark Antony and Lepidus. The entire Mediterranean region had already been plagued with wars for decades, and the violence worsened under the Triumvirate. After many years of war, Octavian finally defeated them and became the sole ruler of the Roman world. He took the title Caesar Augustus.
History regards Caesar Augustus as a great ruler. He brought unity and peace to the Roman Empire, and under his brilliant political and administrative skills, the region prospered. This period of relative stability and prosperity, called Pax Romana, lasted for over 200 years. It gave people a common language and allowed them to travel safely. It empowered trade and allowed the exchange of ideas to flourish. This enabled the gospel to spread easily, and helped the early church to grow quickly over the vast Roman Empire.
Just as John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way spiritually for Jesus, Caesar Augustus was used by God to prepare the way physically for the Messiah and the growth of the early church. God, in His wisdom, makes strategic plans to help His people. He is able to use Christians and non-believers, political situations and world events to grow His Kingdom.
Here’s a food for thought… Globalisation has made our world ‘smaller’. The explosion of social media technology and the proliferation of mobile devices have made the exchange of ideas even easier. Are we not in a special era for the Kingdom of God to thrive? What can we do as part of God’s grand plan to save the lost?
God’s Individual Concern
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and 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 2:4-7)
An unmarried pregnant woman was not just a scandal, but risked being stoned. Mary trusted in God despite the risks to her, confident that God cares. When Joseph learnt about her pregnancy, he had planned to divorce her quietly in order not to expose her to public disgrace. But an angel of the Lord appeared to him, told him that Mary had conceived through the Holy Spirit, and he obeyed (Matthew 1:18-25). Mary didn’t have to face the obstacles on her own. God took care of the difficult job of explaining to Joseph.
It was timely that the decreed census required everyone to travel to their own town, and Joseph had a convenient excuse to bring Mary with him, out of Nazareth. That saved her from a lot of gossips as her tummy grew noticeably bigger. God provided her a way out.
Mary “gave birth to her firstborn”, i.e., she gave birth to other children after Jesus. The Bible records that Joseph “did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son” (Matthew 1:25). So they consummated after Jesus was born, and God provided her with more children.
Joseph and Mary were away from family and friends, and had no one to celebrate the birth of their first child. But God sent angels to announce the birth to some shepherds, and they went over to Bethlehem to celebrate with Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:9-20). There were no relatives to give them gifts, but God sent the Magi, who brought valuable gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). God provided again.
God cares. Not only does He work strategically on world events to benefit His people, He looks intimately into each of our needs too. Not only does He love all of humanity, He adores you as an individual. We can be confident in God’s provision.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".