About this time Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the nation. (This census was taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration. And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, King David’s ancient home—journeying there from the Galilean village of Nazareth. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.
Augustus’s decree went out in God’s perfect timing and according to God’s perfect plan to bring his Son into the world. God controls all history. By the decree of Emperor Augustus, Jesus was born in the very town prophesied for his birth (Micah 5:2), even though his parents did not live there.
The government forced Joseph to make a long trip just to pay his taxes. His fiancée, who had to go with him, was about to have a baby. Joseph and Mary were both descendants of David. (The Old Testament is filled with prophecies that the Messiah would be born in David’s royal line [see, for example, Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 33:15; Ezekiel 37:24; Hosea 3:5]). But when they arrived in Bethlehem, they couldn’t even find a place to stay. When we do God’s will, we are not guaranteed a comfortable life. But we are promised that everything, even our discomfort, has meaning in God’s plan.
James C. Galvin