December 7, 2017

Thursday
Luke 2:1-4, Mark 12:13-17
Ugly Setting: Rome

The Roman Empire grew from a relatively small political unit in Italy to the entire Mediterranean basin. As Rome slowly moved to the east, she conquered North Africa, Egypt, Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, Syria, and eventually Judea. In the process, the Roman government established some regions that were ruled as provinces and others as “client kingdoms.” Judea happened to be one of these client kingdoms run by its own semi-independent king. The first such king was Herod the Great.

For the ordinary people of the Jewish homeland, Rome was indeed a dominant political factor. Although they might not have seen Romans on a day-to-day basis, the imposition of Roman power was certainly felt. Even though Herod's rule and Herod's forces were the local arm of the law, everyone knew that Rome was the power behind the throne. Rome was the source of both the wealth and also some of the problems that occurred in the Jewish state—one of which was taxation.

During his life, we know Jesus respected and yielded to Roman authority. Peter encouraged believers of the early Church to submit “to every human institution whether to a king . . . or to governors” (1 Peter 2:13-14). It was Joseph’s submission to Roman authority that led him and Mary to Bethlehem in order to fulfill the prophecy in Micah 5:1-2.

As believers, we must hold fast to the assurance that God is in control, no matter who’s in charge politically. Proverbs 21:1 states: “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever he wishes.”