Monday, 19 December 2016


God’s Decree in Bethlehem

“Sweet thought! He is the Christ of the little ones! “You, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel.” We cannot pass away from this without another thought, which is, how “wonderfully mysterious was that providence which brought Jesus Christ’s mother to Bethlehem at the very time when she was to deliver!” His parents were residing at Nazareth, and why should they need to travel at that time? Naturally they would have remained at home; it was not at all likely that His mother would have taken a journey to Bethlehem while in so peculiar a condition! But Caesar Augustus issues a decree that they are to be taxed; very well then, let them be taxed at Nazareth. No! It pleases him that they should all go to their city, but why should Caesar Augustus think of it just at that particular time? Simply because while man devises his way, the king’s heart is in the hand of our Lord! Why, what a thousand chances—as the world has it—met together to bring about this event! First of all, Caesar quarreled with Herod; one of the Herods was deposed; Caesar says, “I shall tax Judea, and make it a province instead of having it for a separate kingdom.” Well, it must be done, but when is it to be done? This taxing, it is said, was first commenced when Cyreneus was governor, but why is the census to be taken at that particular period—suppose—December? Why not have had it last October? And why could not the people be taxed where they were living? Was not their money just as good there as anywhere else? It was Caesar’s whim, but it was God’s decree! Oh, we love the sublime doctrine of eternal absolute predestination! Some have doubted its being consistent with the free agency of man; we know well it is so, and we never saw any difficulty in the subject. We believe metaphysicians have made difficulties; we see none ourselves. It is for us to believe that man does as he pleases, yet notwithstanding, he always does as God decrees! If Judas betrays Christ, “thereunto he was appointed”; and if Pharaoh hardens his heart, yet “for this purpose have I raised you up, to show forth My power in you.”

Man does as he wills, but God makes him do as he wills! No, not only is the will of man under the absolute predestination of Jehovah, but all things, great or little are of Him! Well has the good poet said, “Doubtless the sailing of a cloud has providence as its pilot; doubtless the root of an oak is gnarled for a special purpose; God compasses all things, mantling the globe like air.” There is nothing great or little that is not from Him; the summer dust moves in its orbit guided by the same hand which rolls the stars along; the dewdrops have their father, and trickle on the rose leaf as God bids them. Yes, the dry leaves of the forest, when hurled along by the tempest, have their allotted position where they shall fall, nor can they go beyond it! In the great, and in the little, there is God—God in everything, working all things according to the counsel of His own will. And though man seeks to go against his Maker, yet he cannot; God has bound the sea with a barrier of sand, and if the sea mounts up wave after wave, yet it shall not exceed  its allotted channel. Everything is of God, and unto Him who guides the stars and wings sparrows, who rules planets and yet moves atoms, who speaks thunders and yet whispers zephyrs, unto Him be glory, for there is God in everything!”

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

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