Sermon preached on Sunday, December 19, 2012 at Garden Valley Chapel during our worship morning service based on Matthew 1:1.
Take your Bible if you will and open it to the book of Matthew, Matthew chapter one.
With the reign of Caesar Augustus (27 B.C. - A.D. 14), the world during the birth of Christ experienced a condition of comparative calm.
His rule ushered in the pax Romana. Yet they were not days of Jewish independence and though you could cry out "freedom" in the street you were required to recognize Roman supremacy.
Rome was now that new world superpower and that small Jewish city-state of Jerusalem, for instance, found itself again subject to another foreign power. It was not the Hellenistic powers of old but the Roman Empire of the west that was now in place.
"Rome" is the Greek word for strength and strong it was.
Rome brought order and stability and it was said by the Roman historian Tacitus that this period of peace could almost single-handedly be attributed to the immense power of Caesar Augustus who developed a new government that lasted for centuries. Yet it was a "delegated absolutism."1
Local government remained local in that towns continued to manage their own affairs. The governor saw that the Roman laws prevailed, that order was kept, that the frontiers were quiet, that travel and communication were safe, that the taxes and tithes were properly and promptly paid. Of course their was peace, at least an external, man-made kind of peace.
Rome absorbed both culture and religion but it could put its own stamp on things. Yet it made no effort to Latinize or Romanize. Greek remained the effective language and when a new city was founded, Greek remained the language of culture and government.
It is in this historical/political context, in one of the remote regions of the Roman Empire, where a disturber of man-made peace was born.
For born in Israel, in Bethlehem of all places, is the Supreme and Almighty over all as was foretold by the prophet Isaiah in Is 9:6-7 -
6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
And it was so. For such a time as this was our Lord born into the world and established true peace, a much needed and long-awaited peace. As He told his disciples in John 14:7 -
27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you...
For as Paul writes in Eph 2:17 -
17 ... He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;
This disturber of man-made peace was born in the most unlikeliest of places and His gospel comes to us by a most unlikely individual, a publican turned a follower of Jesus Christ.
1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (ESV)
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