On the Fourth Day of Christmas

Where are you from?  My own answer depends on who’s asking and why.  If I’m traveling and someone asks, I tell them I’m from Kenosha, Wisconsin.  It’s where I currently live.  To a family researcher, I might answer that I’m from Flint, Michigan, because that’s where my birth certificate says I was born.  At other times I claim to be from New Lothrop, Michigan.  That’s where I was taken when I left the hospital after my birth and I lived there until I was a teenager.

Where was Jesus from?  I can give three different answers, each one fulfilling an ancient prophecy!  Putting together Matthew 2 and Luke 2 gives us this scenario:  Mary and Joseph were living in Nazareth when Caesar Augustus issued the census decree which forced them to travel to Bethlehem.  That is where Jesus was born.  Then the Magi came, tipping off Herod on the way.  Herod plotted to kill Jesus but Joseph was warned in a dream so Mary and Joseph hurried off to Egypt where they stayed until Herod died.  After Herod died, they returned to Israel, but to avoid Herod’s son, Archelaus, they settled back in Nazareth where they had been before the census trip to Bethlehem.

God had inspired ancient prophets to reveal that the Messiah (the Christ) would be from Bethlehem, that his son would be called out of Egypt, and that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene.  On the surface, those prophetic words seem confusing and even contradictory.  But God wasn’t confused; he just had a big-picture perspective. Scholars could not have predicted how the Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth prophecies would come together.  This is one more example of the truth taught in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God is active in our own lives, both doing things and teaching us things.  We can’t always see how everything fits together but we can have the confidence that God knows what he is doing.  If Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth could be reconciled, God can handle your journey, too!

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