“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 23:1-3 NIV)
Rome. One of the world empires mentioned in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2:31-45.
Caesar Augustus. Emperor of Rome from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14. Surely, Augustus played king on the chessboard of the ancient world. If TIME Magazine had been around, Caesar Augustus would have graced the cover. The world at that time appeared to revolve around him. The Roman Senate gave him the title “exalted one” when he took power.
When Caesar said, “Jump,” everyone did. Including a carpenter and his pregnant wife. And “jump” meant a sixty-five-mile, three-day trip in month nine of her pregnancy. Mary is often depicted riding a donkey to Bethlehem. For Mary’s sake, we hope Joseph found some way to make the journey easier. In truth, she may have had to walk every step.
A Roman decree could not be ignored.
Yet, as Caesar Augustus moved about Rome issuing decrees, he merely served as God’s pawn to move the major players into place.
Here are just a few Old Testament prophecies mentioned in the gospels:
- Micah 5:2 The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
- Hosea 11:1 A trip to Egypt was required. It came courtesy of Herod who also served as a pawn.
- Isaiah 11:1 The Messiah, or the Branch of Isaiah 11:1, would be linked to Nazareth (Matthew 2:21-23). The Hebrew word for branch is neser and is closely linked to Nazareth, in essence, Branch-man from branch-town. (Sorry, a little technical.)
God was and always will be in control. He determines historical events and their timing. Every person plays a role as pieces move on God’s chessboard.
And don’t be fooled.
Just because the game continues doesn’t means it’s up for grabs.
Jesus checkmated Satan long ago. Satan’s simply trying to capture as many pieces as he can. Because when Jesus comes the second time, He won’t need a Roman decree. He’ll come with the shout of the archangel and the trumpet call of God (1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:16). We’ll discover many things we thought so major really served as minor moves. Distractions. Decoys. Diversions. And many things we pushed aside for some other time—like more time with God—will turn out to be the most important chess moves of all.
Workout of the Week: God’s Chessboard
Memory Verse: “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 23:1-3 NIV)
Do It: Keep the game in mind when choosing your moves.