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The Inside Story

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
December 15, 2022 12:00 am

The Inside Story

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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December 15, 2022 12:00 am

Mary and Joseph’s role in the drama of Christmas teaches us a great deal about faith and obedience. So join Stephen as we learn from their unforgettable example.

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His birth would be ignored entirely by Roman.

Why not? Compare the birth of this peasant boy who would claim to be the Son of God with Caesar Augustus, who was also declared the Son of God, and who would you think had the better chance of being believed? Which savior of the world would you have followed? The prophet Isaiah said of Christ, he had no majesty that we should look upon him. He was despised, and we did not esteem him.

Isaiah 53, 2 and 3. That's another way of saying we looked at him and never would have guessed in a million years that he was anything important. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. We want to help you prepare your heart to celebrate Christmas, so we're bringing you messages to help you do that. On Christmas, it seems natural for our attention to turn to Jesus in the manger. But let's not forget his earthly parents in the process. Having faith in God in the days of Caesar was difficult. Mary and Joseph showed remarkable faith in God.

From the time they were told he was coming, all through his birth and beyond. Today we'll begin a series called Emmanuel, and Stephen Davey has a lesson for you called The Inside Story. If you had been alive nearly 200 years ago, the spotlight of world concern and interest would have been on a man named Napoleon. He was the most powerful man in Europe and was in the process of conquering Western Europe. One author tweaked my historical perspective when he wrote, if Dan Rather had been living in 1809, his evening news broadcast would have concentrated on Austria, certainly not America. Nothing else was half as significant on the international scene as this man.

And he's right. If we had been alive in 1809, we would have considered Napoleon's battles in the theater throughout Austria as the most significant thing happening in the civilized world. The last place you would ever think of anything happening of any kind of significance or importance would have been the backwoods of Kentucky. Yet in 1809, a poor illiterate wandering laborer and his wife delivered into the world a baby they named Abraham Lincoln. But who would have cared about that in 1809, right? The destiny of the world at the moment was in the hands of a French dictator and an emerging world ruler named Napoleon. Or was it? The same year, the birth of a boy in Hardin County, Kentucky was insignificant in the shaping of world empires.

Or was it? If you had been alive about 2,000 years ago, the news sensation of the day would have been the empire of Rome and one who had recently come to power. He would be the new world leader after defeating Antony and Cleopatra in their bid for Rome's throne. This man solidified the Roman Empire and became its first true emperor. His given name was Gaius Octavian. But after assuming the throne of his deceased uncle, Julius Caesar, he also assumed the title of Caesar, by the way. Caesar was simply a generic name like Pharaoh or Emperor.

It was given to the one who held the throne. Yet for the first time in the 400 years of the Roman Empire, the Roman Senate voted unanimously to give Caesar Octavian the additional title Augustus. Augustus meant revered or holy one.

It was a title that the Romans up to that point reserved exclusively for their gods. You see, it was 2,000 years ago that the belief was established in the empire that the Roman Caesar was the son of God. The sensation of the day, 2,000 years ago, would be the ruler of this vast world empire known to man as Caesar Augustus. And he was perhaps its greatest leader, even though the empire would last another 600 years. Historians have said that Caesar Augustus was probably their greatest Caesar. They say when he came to lead Rome, Rome was made of brick.

When he left upon his death, it was made of marble. So revered was he by his subjects and so believed was he to be the son of God that an inscription was even discovered in our generation in the Roman city of Halicarnassus that referred to him as, quote, the savior of the world. If you had been alive 2,000 years ago, the spotlight would never shift to the back hills of Nazareth. No one would ever have thought to look at a baby boy born to peasant parents as having any significance or any influence over the future of the entire human race. His birth would be ignored entirely by Rome. And why not compare the birth of this peasant boy who would claim to be the son of God with Caesar Augustus, who was also declared the son of God, and who would you think had the better chance of being believed? Which savior of the world would you have followed? The prophet Isaiah said of Christ, he had no majesty that we should look upon him. He was despised and we did not esteem him.

Isaiah 53, 2 and 3. That's another way of saying we looked at him and never would have guessed in a million years that he was anything important. Caesar Augustus, on the other hand, looked like the son of God.

He had behind him all of the wealth and splendor of Rome. And behind Jesus Christ, abject poverty, the lowest of the lowest classes of people. He didn't look anything like a son of God. Why would he come to earth that way? Why the poverty?

Well, I want to explore that over our few sessions together as we celebrate his birth during the Christmas season. I want you to turn in your Bibles to Matthew. While you're turning, I want to quote a verse to you from Paul's writings in 2 Corinthians, chapter 8, verse 9, where he says of Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich. He became poor.

Stop a moment. There are a number of different words translated poor in the English language from the Greek language. Two predominant words translated poor in the Greek world. One word referred to someone who had just enough money to pay his bills and buy the food that he needed to eat. And then after he had paid his bills and after he had paid off the landlord and after he had bought the food that he needed to eat, he was poor.

He didn't have anything more until the next pay period. Sounds a lot like us, right? Especially during this time of year. Christmas is expensive, isn't it? Anybody who says Christmas doesn't last all year just doesn't have a credit card. But there's another word translated poor.

It's the word tokas. It referred to someone who had no money to begin with. It wasn't that this person spent their money to pay the bills and then had nothing left. This person had nothing to pay the bills with. It isn't that this person had enough money to buy some food they needed and then when he had bought the food he needed, he ran out of money. This person never had money to buy food. This person was destitute.

That's the word that Paul used here. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor. He never ran out of money simply because he didn't have any to run out of. He didn't have any to spend. He didn't have any to save.

He didn't even have any to lose. And if you track the life of Jesus Christ, you discover he borrowed everything. He borrowed the room to eat in with his disciples. He didn't own a home. He didn't have anywhere to pillow his head, the text tells.

He borrowed a boat to go across the lake. He even borrowed a tomb to lie in for just a few days. He was totally impoverished. And that's the kind of poor person Jesus Christ would become. And it meant much more than that. It was spiritual impoverishment, as it were. He humbled himself. He became like us. He became the lowest of all the universal creatures, as it were. He became something so humbling that we cannot imagine it.

So when Paul wrote in that verse, he was actually thinking of the entirety of the Incarnation as one act, not just his birth, but his life, and then his death. He speaks of it all as someone who has chosen abject poverty. For your sakes, the totality of all of the events related to the Incarnation, Christ becoming man was total impoverishment. He was choosing abject poverty. He went from riches to rags.

Why did he do it? Paul said he became impoverished so that we could become enriched. That is, he went from riches to rags so that we could go from rags to riches, spiritual enrichment.

He came from heaven to earth so that we could go from earth to heaven. And I want you to travel with me to the days, let's begin, just before the Son of God was born on planet earth, a true Son of God, just before he became Immanuel. We're given the inside scoop in Matthew chapter 1. And I want you to turn there and look with me.

We'll see how far we get over these sessions together. Verse 18 is where we'll start now. And there is a sermon there, but we'll skip it. Now, the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When his mother, Mary, had been betrothed to Joseph before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.

Let's stop there. You need to understand the shocking significance of what you just read. The Jewish marriage had several parts to it. The betrothal period, or the Kedushim, was the engagement period followed by the marriage, the actual ceremony. The betrothal period was a time when the young couple actually went before the priest and stated their vows of fidelity to one another. They would then live apart for a year as the young man prepared his home for the bride. According to the custom of this day, you could not break the Kedushim. You could not break the betrothal period without a written bill of divorce. In fact, the law of this day held that if a man died before the ceremony, his betrothed could be considered a widow. At this point in the story, this one verse is filled with shocking tragedy for this young man.

Can you imagine? Look again at verse 18. Before they came together, she was found, she was discovered to be with child. In other words, she informed evidently Joseph that she was carrying a baby and it was not his. No doubt she told him about the angel. No doubt she told him about this miraculous conception by the Spirit of God.

No doubt she explained all of that to him, but he didn't buy it. We know that because of verse 19. Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, that as he kept the law, he held to the law, not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. Now the law declared in the book of Deuteronomy that one committing fornication in this way would be stoned to death. She had violated the marriage covenant. She could be tried publicly.

She could be found guilty. Undoubtedly, from the record we have of this day, the Jews were not carrying out the full penalties of the law. But we do know that during this time of Christ, a woman like Mary would have at least been cast off by her family and ostracized, and the lack of the mention of her family seems to indicate that that was probably what had happened.

She was also ostracized from ever entering the temple again. The text does tell us that Joseph was a righteous man that as he valued the law, he lived a moral life, he upheld the law of God and respected holy living. Mary had obviously sinned, although she wouldn't tell him the name of the other man. She kept talking about God doing this through the Holy Spirit.

He didn't buy it, but he didn't want to publicly humiliate her, so he wanted to privately put her away and break off the kiddushim. Verse 20 tells us what happened. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a son, and you will name him Jesus, Yeshua, Joshua, Deliverer, Redeemer is what the name means, for it is he who will save his people from their sins. Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which translated means God with us. By the way, to spell Immanuel with an I is to transliterate it from the Hebrew, to spell it with an E is to transliterate it from the Greek.

You're going to need to know that for the test. Can you imagine Joseph's surprise by this angelic visitor? He's already gone through a lot. Now he discovers that Mary's story is true, that this whole tale of Holy Spirit conception and the visit of an angel wasn't the fabrication of a woman who was trying to get away with her sin, that it was actually true. Who would believe it? Truth is, hardly anyone would, but Joseph would. Verse 24 says that Joseph arose from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, took her as his wife, either fulfilling the Kiddushim here or simply bypassing the ritual of his day and taking her as his wife. However, he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son. They would have other children, their names are given in the Gospel records, but until she gave birth to Jesus, he kept her a virgin.

Then when he was born, the text says he called his name Jesus. By the way, don't miss this, by obeying God here, Joseph was giving away his reputation as a righteous man. What I mean is this, his only chance for clearing his name that he had nothing to do with this fornication would have been to simply prove, to tell the story that Mary had come up with this crazy fabrication, but she's pregnant and I'm not the father and he could have done it publicly and this would have vindicated his name. But to marry her, to take her as his wife would be to imply to everyone that he is in fact the child's father, that he and Mary had violated their betrothal vow of fidelity and purity before God. And this dogged his heels for the rest of his life, we know that, Mary's as well. In fact, 30 years later, Jesus Christ would be accosted by the religious leaders who would challenge him in John 8 and saying to him, we were not born out of fornication like you were.

They would never live it down. For the rest of their lives, Joseph and Mary lived under the penalty, listen, the penalty and discomfort of obedience to God. What are you willing to suffer, my friend? What amount of awkwardness will you accept?

What penalties will you embrace out of obedience to God? With that, Mary and Joseph move forward and Matthew jumps ahead nearly two years in the story. And so I want you to turn to Luke. It's Luke the doctor, the physician that fills in all the details of the labor and delivery room of Bethlehem.

It would be a doctor that would be interested in that. We'll have time for just a little bit of this. But notice in chapter 2 verse 1, he picks up the story of Emmanuel by telling us what happened next. Now it came about in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus.

Do you remember him? The other son of God, or so he thought. That a census be taken of all the inhabited earth, that is all of his kingdom, all of the inhabitants of his realm. This was the first census taken while Crenius was governor of Syria. Now Caesar ordered the census for two reasons and he did it every 14 years, by the way. Historians inform us that he did it, first of all, to determine the age or the number of military age young men so that the Roman army could draft these men whenever Caesar so ordered. Now we know that Jews were exempt from military service. The Romans did not force them to serve.

So why would they be going? Well, because of the second reason and probably more important to Caesar. And that was not just for military reasons, but financial reasons. This was a registration for the purpose of taxation. All the inhabitants of Rome, whether Jew or Gentile, were to go to the town of their lineage and they were to register their name, their occupation, their children's names and so on. These days, ladies and gentlemen, were the days when you would think that Caesar Augustus was in control of the events of the world. Caesar commanded and all of the inhabitants simply obeyed and entered this very difficult, challenging, obedient role of traveling to their distant homelands to register. He commanded it and they obeyed it. He was the one in control, ladies and gentlemen.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Augustus was nothing more or less than God's errand boy, delivering a decree like that at precisely the right moment. If it had been three months earlier or three months later or three weeks earlier or three weeks later, they would have missed that moment and perhaps the birth would have occurred in Nazareth.

God was orchestrating everything to fulfill His divine will to every precise detail. The Word of God had already prophesied in Genesis 3 that the Redeemer would be a human being and not an angel and that would come true. It had prophesied in Genesis 12 that the Savior would be a Jew and not a Gentile and that was coming true. The Word of God also prophesied that the Messiah would be a descendant of David in 2 Samuel 7, that the Savior would come from the tribe of Judah in Genesis 49, that the Messiah would be born of a virgin in Isaiah 7, that the Redeemer would be crucified in His clothing, divided among the soldiers in Psalm 22. But hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ the prophet, Micah declared that the Savior would be born in this little village called Bethlehem. As for you, Bethlehem, Micah said, too small to be among the clans of Judah.

In other words, too insignificant to even make it on the map. Oh you, Bethlehem, from you one will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, even from the days of eternity. Micah 5, 2.

It might look like Caesar is calling the shots. It might look like Joseph and Mary are helpless pawns caught up in the events and the movements of world history, but in reality it was the perfect timing of sovereign God who was moving nations and moving even the Caesar of Rome to decree when he did that decree to go back to your homeland. And so Luke records for us in verse 3, everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee from the city of Nazareth to Judea to the city of David which is called Bethlehem because he was of the house and family of David in order to register along with Mary who was engaged to him and was with child. It's interesting here, the text indicates very clearly that he had Mary with him here at the very outset of this story and there are many that wonder why she wasn't required to go.

He could have registered the family name himself. He could have saved her the rigor of traveling at least a day if not more, especially being nine months pregnant. But she was with him and I think that there are a lot of reasons why. One of them, of course, the ultimate reason is the fulfillment of Scripture that she would deliver in Bethlehem but think of the natural human reasoning.

Why would she ever want to stay? She was alone now. She was ostracized. She was the scandal of Nazareth.

She was the talk of every gossip. Why stay alone? She had relatives in a distant city. She had already been to visit them and they encouraged her but here she seemed to be ostracized from her family and all alone. She wasn't, I don't believe, about to stay behind. Not only Joseph wanted her to stay behind either, I can't imagine him going on this trip without her. She's about to deliver. One author said it's not like he'd say to her, honey, I have a business trip and while I'm away you may have the Son of God but I'll try to hurry home.

No. He wanted her there and so they headed to Bethlehem. By the way, Bethlehem literally means house of bread. John chapter 6 we're told that Jesus is the bread of life.

Can you imagine a better town for the bread of life to be born then in a town whose name means house of bread? In addition to that Bethlehem was the town of the patriarch Jacob where he had buried his wife Rachel after she died in childbirth. The fields that Mary and Joseph passed were the same fields where Ruth once gleaned trying to eke out an existence as a widow with her mother-in-law Naomi until Boaz the owner of the field spotted her and fell in love with her. It would be in these same fields where young David would tend the sheep of the family before he was identified as the future king of Israel. These aforementioned people by the way are all the relatives of Mary and Joseph. Both of them came from the royal line. In fact had there been a throne in Jerusalem, had there been a king and queen in the land of Israel it would have been Joseph and Mary. They were descendants of both lines converging in them one from David through Nathan one from David through Solomon. They were the rightful successors to a throne that had not existed for now some centuries and it would be their son who in his blood would literally have the royal right to be the prince of David. The world didn't notice.

Why would it? It was enraptured by the truly sensational news of the new Caesar Augustus, the one who had just received designation by the Roman Senate that he was the son of God. In a recent book, Philippiancy contrasted the humility that characterized Jesus as coming to earth with a typical visit of the member of some royal family making a visit to another country. Yancy wrote, in London, looking toward the auditorium's royal box where the queen sat I caught glimpses of the way rulers stride through the world with bodyguards, trumpet fanfare and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry.

Queen Elizabeth II, he wrote recently visited the United States and reporters revealed all the behind the scenes details and logistics for such a visit to take place. Four thousand pounds of luggage containing everything imaginable. Her luggage contained two outfits for every occasion. That's familiar actually that part. I'm in trouble here.

I better keep moving. It contained a mourning outfit in case someone died and she needed to attend the funeral. She brought along her own hairdresser, two valets and dozens of other attendants. In fact, carefully kept within her luggage were forty pints of plasma in case of a medical emergency.

Even a brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can cost upwards of twenty million dollars. And here's the son of God, the true son of God, leaving behind all the amenities of first class travel. The only attendant was adoptive father with calloused hands who didn't know what he was doing, a teenage mom. We'll look at the details of that birth, but for now why would Jesus Christ humble himself to that point? Why did he give away all of his royal privileges so that he could give you and he could give me the greatest privilege for as many as received this one, John tells us. To them he gave the privilege, the honor, the right to become children of God. Emmanuel means God with us and it's God with us so that we can be with God. He came and in his coming went from riches to rags so that we could go from rags to riches. Though he was rich, he became poor so that in his poverty we might become rich. Who does that?

Who exchanges riches for rags? Well, Jesus Christ. Emmanuel did that for you and now you can be the beneficiary of God's lavish grace. If you've never contacted our ministry before, call today because we're going to send you a gift. Stephen has a paperback booklet from this series called Emmanuel. Call 866-48-BIBLE and then join us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-18 05:55:22 / 2022-12-18 06:05:38 / 10

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