When Augustus took the throne as Caesar of the Roman Empire in 27 BC at the age of 36 he stood on the dawn of a new era in history. Bringing great improvements and technology to the people while he also savagely expanded the reach of the empire at the expense of non-Roman citizens. On the eve of his silver jubilee, or 25th anniversary of his reign as Caesar, Augustus ordered the entire empire to sign pledges or oaths of allegiance to him. This was decreed near the end of 3 BC to be completed by the Autumn of 2 BC. In fact, history tells us of 6,000 pharisees in Israel which refused to sign their pledges to Caesar citing the act as treason to Yahweh. Many of them were killed, all were persecuted and most of them were silenced. There were many cases where just the head of household needed to pledge allegiance as leader of the people in his home. Some were allowed to simply go into the central business district of the nearest “large town” and sign their oaths. But others were required to journey for their pledge. In fact, anyone connected to the lineage of David in Israel, that is the heirs to the throne of Israel, were required to go to the City of David in order to sign their pledges of allegiance to Caesar and renounce their claim to the throne of Israel. In fact, this would have changed the area of Israel/Syria/Jordan from a kingdom underneath the purview of Rome to an actual Roman province, thereby granting some level of citizenship to the people. Some would call this a census, as it would be an accounting of the people. But it was more than that, it was subjugation to an earthly king. Maybe one day an heir to the throne of David would stand up and take back the throne over Israel, the people thought. In a sense, they were right, but they would also be very wrong in the sense of their idea of kingship.
And we actually know from the Bible that the line of David, over the course of thousands of years, leads us to Jesus. But just before Jesus is born, both his mother and his earthly father journey to the City of David, that is Bethlehem. The reason for this is because both Mary and Joseph are from the line of David, and therefore both are required to journey to the City of David to pledge allegiance to Caesar Augustus. Queue the Christmas carols.
God, since the speaking into existence the entire universe and setting the worlds into motion, knew that at this point in time, at this location, that the reigning king over Israel would require the earthly mother and father of the soon to be born messiah to travel to the prophesied City of David where Jesus would make His earthly arrival. God has also set the planets and stars in the sky for signs (Genesis 1:14). That means that as these planets and stars travel in their elliptic journeys around both our sun and other stars, that they would make out constellations, or from our perspective there would be shapes and symbols in the sky. And that as these move across our sky, God has seen fit to allow them to help us know and understand events on Earth. Even to the point where a special year of incredible astronomical events would lead up to and indicate the arrival of the messiah, Jesus. More on that in the next blog!
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