This time last week, along with many other parents, I was getting ready to go and collect our seven year old, Emily, from school, for the last time in the foreseeable future.

Bit by bit, over the last few weeks, we’ve come under stricter and stricter measures, in response to the Corona Virus Outbreak.

The UK is now on ‘lock-down’, with numbers of confirmed cases multiplying at an exponential rate. Just hours ago we learned that the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has himself contracted the virus and is now self-isolating – please do pray for him and his pregnant partner. Events are changing and unfolding at an alarming rate.

A month ago, phrases such as ‘lock-down’ were spoken only by actors, starring in Apocalyptic movies. Now they are part of our every day language

Everyone is talking about these ‘unprecedented’ times. A year ago, during prayer, God gave me the phrase…”All change!” Well it’s certainly feeling that way.

But could it be…could it possibly be…that in the midst of all this chaos, all of this disruption and upheaval, that God is still bringing about His Sovereign purposes on earth?

A Prophecy Fulfilled

One of the blessings of this lock-down, for me, has been the extended opportunity to study God’s word. I’ve decided to read through the gospel of Matthew.

In Chapter 2, Matthew quotes from the OT book of Micah, foretelling the birth-place of the Messiah.

And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah, for out of you shall come forth a ruler, who will shepherd my people Israel.

Micah 2:5

In other words, roughly 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Micah foresees it – he speaks of a ruler, a shepherd of Israel, who will come forth from Bethlehem.

For those of us familiar with the Nativity, we know that Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth. So how on earth did Jesus come to be born in Bethlehem?

Through a governmental decree!

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And 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 he was engaged to and who was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

Luke 2:1-6

A governmental decree suddenly brings a sudden halt to business as usual, bringing about disruption and upheaval. Sound familiar?

Joseph has to down-tools, take his pregnant fiancée, and make something like a 90 mile journey to Bethlehem. This would have been an 8 or 9 day hike!

But this unusual event, this governmental edict, was the very vehicle that God used to bring about His Sovereign purpose! Through the decree of a Roman ruler, Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem – not by happen-stance, but by Sovereign design – to fulfil an ancient prophecy! How wonderful.

Could it be that right now, in our day, when governments all around the world are issuing decrees, not to leave, but rather to stay in our homes, that something deeper might be going on?

Is there a possibility, that even now, in these uncertain days, God could be bringing forth His wonderful purposes on earth?

A message for these times, photographed as I walked to the shop today

We’re all hearing the stories…

  • People are slowing down, reflecting and re-evaluating.
  • Families are eating meals together.
  • Children are enjoying time with their parents and siblings.
  • People are ditching their phones and re-discovering the beauty of reading, writing, painting, playing board games or doing jigsaw puzzles.
  • People are appreciating simple daily freedoms, such as going for a walk.
  • Parents and children are learning new things together at home.
  • Bird song is being heard in cities, normally drowned out by the daily din of traffic.
  • People are being kind to their neighbours, fetching groceries, setting up WhatsApp support groups to support those who are isolated.
  • People are starting to appreciate others, especially the doctors and nurses and other critical workers out on the frontline.
  • People are faced with the brevity of life.
  • People are faced with the instability of finance.
  • People are opening up their bibles, searching for guidance.
  • People are inviting others to Online Church Services or sharing messages of hope and encouragement.
  • A shaking is taking place. A humbling of hearts. A new openness to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Yes it’s challenging. Yes, it’s tough. But let’s be in faith that through this unprecedented set of events, God is still on the throne. He is not shaken. Neither is He perplexed. He is absolutely faithful to all of His promises, and right now, I believe, He is doing something significant in the earth.

Let’s hope that we don’t miss His heartbeat, but yield to whatever lesson He is teaching us. Let’s pray that we come out of this season more conformed into His image.

Let’s be confident, that right now, even though things seem so chaotic, so out of our control, that just like the time of our Saviour’s birth, God is bringing about His Sovereign purposes on Earth. Lord, Thy will be done.

3 thoughts on “A Virus, a Census and a Saviour!

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