Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.
If Matthew chapter 1 was about confirming that Jesus was of royal lineage and heir to the throne of David, then chapter 2 is about how difficult it is to rise to power. Friends become enemies and likely foes become allies. But perhaps more importantly it is wonderful illustration on how God protects his people. This is so wonderfully illustrated in the verses that unfold in chapter 2. God protected His son and he also protects his people.
The prophet Micah says, 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose going forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
Here Joseph and his wife Mary, who is nearly at the time in which she is due, find themselves in Nazareth a town about 80 miles North of Bethlehem. As we have seen in Micah 5:2. Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. For a young family with donkey traveling without the trials of being full term the journey would have taken 4 days. But for Joseph and Mary, her being heavy with child, the journey would have one week in length and perhaps a day longer than that since they would not have traveled on the Sabbath.
Joseph being a just man and subject to the law, would not have traveled more than half a mile on the Sabbath, unless arrangements would have been made in advance, but they being poor, far from home, the chances of such arrangements would have been doubtful at best.
Why not stay in the comfort of their home and deliver the baby in Nazareth? God through his prophets foretold both the time and place in which the New Born King would arrive. Daniel in his great time prophecy had predicted the time in which Jesus would be born. 70 weeks are determined upon they people. (See Daniel 9:24-27) This time prophecy started in the fall of 457 B.C when Artaxerxes decrees to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. Ezra 7:11-26 makes it clear when this would take place.
And now, in the fullness of time, another pagan ruler issues a decree. Caesar Augustus Emperor of Rome in 8 B.C. issues a decree that all should go to their home city so that a census can be taken. Because of the vastness of the Roman Empire it would be another 4 years before this decree was implemented and so in 4 B.C. this little family makes it way from Nazareth to Bethlehem so Joseph can be counted in the census so, that all the world may be taxed.
Others may teach that this world was created and then left to it’s own desires by a creator God that really doesn’t interfere in the affairs of the world. We have just seen two examples of God moving in the affairs of men.
It was Shakespeare that once wrote: “All the world’s a stage.” Indeed we are and as this little family made its way to Bethlehem, while all created beings looked on waiting to see how the struggle between good and evil would play upon earth’s stage. All that is except those that live upon the earth. Well almost all.