Everyday world leaders make decisions thinking that they answer to no one but themselves. Legislatures pass legislation believing they have served their constituents, their party or even themselves. Generals direct their armies where they believe they should be deployed. But behind all of these decisions is the unseen hand of God directing the affairs of people to bring about his sovereign decrees. Men seldom recognize or acknowledge this rule of God but his control is there. King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon said this about God’s control over the nations:
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
“No one can hold back his hand…” That is a powerful statement showing that God answers to no one while all of the peoples of earth are subject to his rule. For example, Roman emperors ruled with unquestioned authority. At their word, the lives of people all around the ancient Mediterranean world hung in the balance. Like most leaders in history, Caesar Augustus gave no thought that his orders would serve the purposes of the living God. Caesar wanted to record the vastness of his empire. So he decreed a census be taken. He had no clue his orders would bring about the fulfillment of biblical prophecy; that his decree would serve the eternal decree of the true King.
God’s ways are not our ways. Things are not as we think. 2,000 years ago it was not evident that Caesar’s order would result in the first Christmas. As Nebuchadnezzar realized no one can hold back the hand of God. The things our government does now, no matter how baffling or troubling, will ultimately be used by God to bring about what he wants. This is something you can encourage your family with this Christmas season – our God is not limited by human government, he continues to bring forth his plan to save a people for himself!
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)