Advent is a time of providence

I first really encountered the word providence when I studied the book of Esther.  God placed Esther in the right position at the right time to save her people during the reign of King Ahasuerus in Persia.   We have another biblical example of God’s providence in the Christmas story.  Have you ever wondered how and why Mary and Joseph, who lived in Nazareth, went to Bethlehem.  Bethlehem is a long journey from Nazareth especially on a donkey while pregnant!

Providence is defined as the care and benevolent guidance of God.  Old Testament prophesies placed the birth of the Messiah to be in Bethlehem.  Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”   Why Bethlehem?  Isaiah 9:7 “…He will reign on David’s throne over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it faith justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”  David’s throne was established in Bethlehem, David’s home town, when Samuel anointed him king.  1Samuel 16:1 “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul since I have rejected him as king over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” We now have the why?  Bethlehem was David’s home and the Messiah was to be born of his line and in his home town.

Now for the how, Joseph was of the lineage of David as was Mary.  The Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus decreed that all persons must return to their home towns to be counted in a Roman census. (Luke 1:1-3)  Thus, Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to register.  The timing of this ordered census was no coincidence but the providence of God to bring Mary and Joseph to the right place, Bethlehem, for the birth of Jesus at God’s appointed time.  When you think of all the things that could have prevented or delayed them from being there, the hand of God is clearly evident.

I often say ‘there are no coincidences’ in God’s economy.  God does indeed direct and guide and things don’t just happened by chance.  Next time you want to say, lucky you or it was just luck, think of the Bethlehem story and say ‘thank you God for your guiding hand and divine providence’.

Looking for the providence of God today,


Fields just outside the town of Bethlehem where David would have watched his flocks.

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