Mar 19

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At this time of year, most Americans are preparing for their taxes; papers are gathered up, the forms are filled out. The dead line is April fifteenth and many of us are hoping that we don’t have pay any more taxes. Money having already been taken out of our hard earned income with every pay check.
Taxes are not new! Looking back through the years to the time of Caesar Augustus, who ordered that a census be taken for the purpose of taxing, our study begins. This was done when Cyrenius was governor of Syria and while Herod the Great (also known as Herod I) served as king of Judea. The Hebrews had to return to their “home” city and Joseph (the supposed father of Jesus) and Mary were of “Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David)” (Luke 2:4). They lived in Nazareth of Galilee which is between seventy and ninety miles from Bethlehem. If they traveled twenty miles a day, it would have taken them just over four days, but one must remember Mary was with child; thus, traveling twenty miles a day over difficult terrain may not be the most likely. A more reasonable time would be seven days, or longer. Nevertheless, they traveled to Bethlehem to pay their taxes to the Roman government!
It was at Bethlehem that Mary gave birth to the male child, whom the angel that appeared unto Joseph had said: “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). In this name his mission was announced, “he shall save!” The Greek word “Jesus” (Iēsous) means: “Jehovah is salvation.” The apostle Matthew tells us this was done in fulfillment of what Isaiah had written: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Isa. 7:14 and Matt. 1:23). However, almost from the time of his birth; not from the time of his birth, but almost from the time of this birth; his life was in danger! The one who came to save us was in danger of losing his life!
There were “wise men from the east” that came to Jerusalem asking: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2). Please notice they did not go to Bethlehem! They were not seeking the birthplace, but they were seeking, “he that is born King of the Jews?” They did not ask, Where is he to be born, but “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” So, who asked about the birthplace? It was Herod! Here is what Matthew wrote: “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born” (Matt. 2:3-4). He was told: “In Bethlehem of Judaea;” (Matt. 2:5; Michah 5:2). It is here that Herod, “privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared” (Matt. 2:7). What was in the mind of this evil man? He desired to kill the baby! Of course, this is not what he told the “wise men,” but he said unto them: “when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also” (Matt. 2:8).
The “wise men” being guided by “the star” followed it “till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Verse 9) “and fell down, and worshipped him” (Verse 11). Then, “being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way” (Verse 12); but, what about Herod? “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men” (Verse 16). The fear of Herod’s evil did not end here, but God warned Joseph: “the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him” (Verse 13). Thus, Joseph did not take his family back to Nazareth, but into Egypt and there they would remain unto the death of Herod the Great!
However, first after eight days Joseph would take his family to Jerusalem and a most beautiful event would take place. There was a man in Jerusalem, who had been promised by the Holy Spirit: “that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). Thus, “He came into the temple and the parents of Jesus brought him into the temple,” Simeon “took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation” (Luke 2:28-30).
There you have it, from taxation to the faith of Simeon, and to our salvation! Think of it, holding the babe in his arms, and based upon the word of God, this man said: “now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation!” Faith based upon evidence!

— Frank R. Williams

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