Christ’s Birth Shaped Our History
Few historical events have shaped western history. The Illiad, Homer’s epic, is one. It illustrated the perils of Paris’ decision to take Helen and Ulysses’ Trojan horse. There are the Greek and Roman societies that gave us the model for republicanism. Preeminent among them is the birth of Christ in an obscure yet valuable eastern edge of the Roman empire. No other event has so impacted the modern world. Even our calendar is separated by his birth, although it is off by a few years. As I understand it, we should be in the year 2027; not even an election year. (1)
Nevertheless, the political events of the day when Christ was born were alarming. The Ceasars were holding onto power through force and despotism. The enemies of Rome were a constant annoyance and required special attention. Herod, who ruled Judea, was charged to keep the Jewish people in line and the eastern front secure, especially against the Parthians (Alexander the Great’s Persian empire’s successors after its collapse due to his untimely death). To maintain his military strength Herod, through Quirinius’ directive, was required to take a census. This undertaking compelled a young couple to return to Judea, specifically the little town of Bethlehem. Once there, the betrothed Mary gave birth to the supernaturally conceived King of kings.
The Parthians had a class of people who could read the stars and understand the times. They were descendants of the great seers of Babylon called the Magi. These Magi, Rome’s enemies, were a constant threat as they intended to conquer land on the Mediterranean Sea’s eastern shore, land such as Judea.
The Roman Senate had declared Herod “King of the Jews” around 37 BC, and he ruled the client state of Judea from that time until shortly after Christ was born. One day several Magi came to him from the east, probably Parthia, and asked him where the King of the Jews was born. Imagine, for a moment, the king’s pride and arrogance, since he had already received that appointment. Imperiled by these sworn enemy’s seers’ request to show the way to a potential replacement, his charge to protect the empire’s eastern edge intensified. The Magi, on the other hand, were playing a political game, courting favor with gifts and kneeling (worship) before this newborn King, hoping it might secure them political points in the future. Hence, they fled Judea, avoiding Herod’s court.
When Herod realized he had been deceived and declared all the Jewish boys two and under to be killed, Joseph’s family fled to Egypt, financed by the Magi, and took refuge there, for Herod had no jurisdiction to pursue beyond the borders of his province. Ceasar himself solely commanded the breadbasket of the ancient world.
After Herod’s death, the Divine family was able to return to Judea, settle in Nazareth, and raise their Son, who would ultimately become the living sacrifice, taking away the sins of the world.
I find it intriguing the God of the ages would move on the heart of a pagan king to order a census, forcing a family to travel to Bethlehem. He would work on the heart of the Magi to come and bring gifts, enabling that family to flee destruction and live for a time in Egypt. And He would speak to the heart of the father to return to Judea and fulfill the Child’s prophetic destiny.
I believe that God still works in ways that will drive pagans to declare a thing, ushering into motion events fulfilling prophecy. These times we are in are foreshadowing Revelation’s narrative, preparing the world’s population to submit to things to come. Things such as not being able to buy or sell without the mark-of-the-beast, one-world government, cashless society, and abject obedience to the ruler of the age.
He will continue to work in the Believer’s hearts to strengthen and lead them in the paths of Righteousness, building the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, ultimately ushering in the Return of this Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, who lay in a manger in Bethlehem, 2,000 years ago.
- I want to thank Dr. Kenneth Calvert, professor of history at Hillsdale College, for his lecture “Understanding the Nativity of Christ,” which provided much fodder for this piece.
About the Author
Robert Socha, BIO Robert Socha (so-ha), was born in southern California. He served 5 years 3 months active duty in the United States Air Force; honorably. After his service he took an Associate’s Degree in Practical Theology, where, through his studies, developed a deep love of God and Country and sincere appreciation of the value of Liberty. Robert and his beloved wife of 21-plus years are raising 4 beautiful Texan children. They moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, in 2013, to put their children in Hillsdale Academy. Robert is a sales professional. He and his wife consider Michigan a hidden gem, and absolutely love this city and state (current political environment notwithstanding) they’ve adopted.