In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
His given name was Octavian, the adopted son of Julius Caesar. After Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, Octavian shared the throne with his brother Antony. However, Antony fell under the spell of an Egyptian queen named Cleopatra. After Antony and Cleopatra were married, they set out to defeat Octavian for the sole power of the empire.
At the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra. After the battle, they fled to Egypt and committed suicide. That left Octavian as the sole ruler of the Roman Empire—the Caesar. Shortly afterward he was named “The Chief Citizen of the Roman Republic” and given the name Augustus. Caesar Augustus ruled the world…or so he thought.
The sovereign God used Augustus to move His chosen couple from Nazareth to Bethlehem. As the Proverb says, “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him” (Proverbs 21:1).
Lord, You have always been and always will be in charge of every king and country. Help my confidence to always rest in Your power and sovereign work. In Your name. Amen.
For parents: This passage is a great way to help your children place the birth of Jesus in a historical setting. Do some research on the Battle of Actium and the plight of Antony and Cleopatra, and share what you learn with your children. Let us know how your conversation unfolds from there. Email us at email@example.com.
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