“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14).
The birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem was the culmination of a lengthy line of prophecies that began thousands of years earlier when God revealed to Adam and Eve that one day the head of the serpent would be crushed by one of their descendants (Genesis 3:15). Through the years, additional prophetic revelation given to Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Micah, and many more detailed the family from which the Messiah would come, and the time and place of His birth.
It was not by accident that the wise men in the east, who would have had access at least to the writing of Ezekiel and Daniel if not the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures, were looking for signs in the heavens regarding the birth. They knew that the time foretold by Daniel had come, and when they received confirmation by a star appearing in the sky, they traveled to Israel to find and worship him.
In Jerusalem, they asked for directions to the place where the birth had occurred. Their question was not correctly phrased under normal circumstances, for even a royal child who is born is not a king, but a prince. Yet they were right, for Jesus was king before, during, and after His life here on earth. The announcement that the wise men made when they reached Jerusalem shocked the city. Herod, then aged and known for his paranoid fears of being replaced, wanted to know everything about this potential rival to the throne.
Receiving directions to Bethlehem from those who knew the prophecy of Micah 5:2 (but who had not bothered to go and see for themselves), they made their way to the place where Joseph and Mary were still living, now in a house rather than a stable. They had not come just to see Jesus, but to acknowledge who He was. Their gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh—were customary gifts for a king. Costly and precious, they were truly fit for a king.
And soon those resources would be greatly needed. Joseph and Mary had offered doves for their offering when they took Jesus to the Temple. Doves were given by those who could not afford a lamb, as specified in the law by Moses so we know that their resources were limited. When the necessity arose to flee to Egypt to escape the slaughter ordered by Herod, the gifts from the wise men doubtless allowed them to make the trip and survive until it was safe for them to return.
I met with Egyptian President Sisi in New York City a few years ago, and one of the things that we discussed was the role Egypt plays in Israel’s security. I reminded him that God used his country in the past as a place of refuge and safety for Jesus not long after His birth…and that God has a plan for his country in this modern day to be a blessing and defense to Israel—and that Egypt will benefit if it fulfills that plan.
The Christmas story is meaningful to us for many reasons, but one of the things we must never forget is the way God works to keep His promises and complete His plans. “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (Matthew 2:13-15).
No matter what your circumstances may be, God is able to deliver all that He has promised to you in His Word…and He will. The same power that moved an empire to ensure a baby was born in the right place and at the right time is at work in our world today. The same power that changed the face of the night sky to announce the birth is yours through prayer and faith. The same power that provided the resources for a trip to seek refuge can meet every need that you have.
May the power of God displayed in the Christmas story build your faith and strengthen your confidence. And may the King rule and reign in your heart and life, not just at one special time of the year, but every single day.