WHERE IS GOD IN THIS CRAZY WORLD? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
We’re in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we’re in Luke 2 for our message titled – “WHERE IS GOD IN THIS CRAZY WORLD?” Lately, it seems as if our world is getting crazier everyday – ISIS terrorists, Ebola virus, high unemployment, and low morality. People are wondering – where is God in all this? Is He just sitting up there twiddling his thumbs? Has He lost control of the world He created? This morning we will look back 2000 years ago when Jesus was born into a world that was just as crazy. We will see that God is very much in control today as He was back then. His plan is always accomplished in heaven and on earth.
Luke 2 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Overall Background: I was talking to someone last week and this person said, “This world is getting crazier every day. I’m just ready for Jesus to come and get us out.” Two things wrong with that statement: First, to this person, this is the worst that this world has ever been. This morning’s message will teach us that it’s been worse before. Jesus’ coming for the church is not dependent on how bad the world gets. He can come any moment. Second, to this person, the world was like a building on fire that could collapse any moment, and God was like a rescue worker on the outside too afraid to go in. God is much more sovereign than that. Application: Have you wondered lately – where is God in this crazy world? Why doesn’t He just destroy the wicked? Why doesn’t He just end this world? I’m here to tell you that God is working powerfully in this crazy world but you won’t find Him if you look for Him in pomp, show, lights, and noise. He is working gently and powerfully in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Now, here’s a question – Is He working in your life? Have you welcomed Him in your life? If not, today is the day you can invite Him.
This morning we will first look at the crazy world in which Jesus was born and then we will see how God has been working in this world.
I. THE WORLD HAS ALWAYS BEEN CRAZY. Luke 2 1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 1 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου, ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην. Who was Caesar Augustus? Caesar Augustus was the emperor of Rome when Jesus was born. His birth name was actually Octavius. He was the great nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar, who was the dictator of Rome (48 BC – 44 BC, four years) until his enemies assassinated him on the Ides of March (March 15). Octavius took this as his opportunity to ascend to the throne. He wasn’t much of a soldier so he linked up with Mark Anthony and Marcus Lepidus and began avenging the death of Julius Caesar. He was brutal and did not spare any who stood up to him.
Octavius was very ambitious. He even had coins minted with Julius Caesar’s image on one side with the words “the God Julius” and his image on the other side with the words “Caesar, Son of a God.” He was not satisfied with being one of three and so he first got rid of Lepidus. Then, he defeated Mark Anthony at the battle of Actium, who committed suicide along with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. They knew what would happen if they fell into the hands of Octavius. Now, Octavius was the only man standing. He was powerful and cruel, to say the least. He established the Pretorian Guard – private bodyguards of 5000 soldiers. The Senate was afraid of him and gave him power over the proconsuls and the armies. They even made him “Pontifex Maximus” or the chief priest of the state religion. Their own position was reduced to being just advisors.
But there’s more – remember when Octavius defeated Mark Anthony. There were provinces in Asia that had supported Mark Anthony. Now Octavius was in power and they were going to pay for that. Very quickly delegations came from city of Pergamum and the city of Nicaea informing him that they were going to make him a god and needed his permission to build temples in his name. Of course, Octavius said, “That’s okay. You don’t have to. But, if you insist….” Two years later, the senate even gave him the title we find in Luke 2:1 – Augustus, which means “great” as in god. He became Caesar Augustus, not only the Emperor of Rome but also a god who had been appointed by the will of the other gods. It was in his hands to bring the “pax deorum” or the peace of the gods to the mortals on the earth. He was the incarnation of all the gods. He was the savior.
The people loved him. He expanded the Roman Empire, rebuilt temples and public buildings, reorganized the Senate, and brought opportunities to the people. He was so popular that Roman men even adopted his hairstyle. For the first time there was peace in the world, as long as you didn’t oppose Octavius. One scholar noted that never before in the history of the world was a man worshipped like Octavius – Caesar Augustus.
Some of you are saying – how come we’ve never heard of him? Have you ever looked at the calendar? The sixth month is named after the god Julius Caesar and the seventh month is named after Caesar Augustus – August.
Why did he want the world to be registered? Taxes. More money was needed to fund the growing army – 28 legions, each legion had over 5000 soldiers. More money was needed to fund Rome and fill the coffers of the god Augustus. But, there’s something more – Herod the king of Judea had made Octavius mad and this was his way of proving a point to Herod that he was the boss. Amazing isn’t it? Everybody’s life is turned upside just so an egomaniac can prove a point. So verse 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 2 Αὕτη ἡ ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου. 3 Καὶ ἐπορεύοντο πάντες ἀπογράφεσθαι, ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν πόλιν.
In short, Jesus was born in a world ruled by a cruel, egomaniac who thought he was god and didn’t think one bit about uprooting people and turning their lives upside down. This was the Crazy World – power, intimidation, cruelty, propaganda, brutality, show, dazzle, and everything demonic.
II. GOD ALWAYS ACCOMPLISHES HIS SOVEREIGN WILL.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 4 Ἀνέβη δὲ καὶ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, ἐκ πόλεως Ναζαρέτ, εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν, εἰς πόλιν Δαυίδ, ἥτις καλεῖται Βηθλέεμ, διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐξ οἴκου καὶ πατριᾶς Δαυίδ, 5 ἀπογράψασθαι σὺν Μαριὰμ τῇ μεμνηστευμένῃ αὐτῷ γυναικί, οὔσῃ ἐγκύῳ.
Background: Caesar Augustus – claiming to be god, emperor of the world commanding everyone to go to their hometown – does not realize that he is just a pawn in the Master Plan of God. This was all part of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 “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 goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
God is not unaware of all that is happening in the world. He knows everything and He works all things towards His divine purpose. Job 42 1 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Daniel 2:20 “…Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings…”
Application: Are you afraid of what’s happening in this world? Are you discouraged by what you hear on the news? Just know that God is in complete control. Everything is falling into His divine purpose, whether in the world or in your life.
III. GOD ALWAYS COMES IN HUMILITY AND GRACE.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. Typically people think that Joseph and Mary just arrived in Bethlehem and couldn’t find any room in the local motel. Not true. They were there for a few days before she went into labor. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 6 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ, ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν. 7 Καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτόν, καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.
The word for inn is “kataluma,” which is guestroom. Joseph and Mary were probably staying with some friends and couldn’t find any privacy and had to deliver Jesus in the family room. Unlike Caesar Augustus who was living in the lap of luxury, the King of Kings had to spend his first night where the animals were tied. God’s ways are not of pomp and show and lights and noise but humility and meekness. The world looks for a conquering hero on a white horse who would destroy the wicked. People are still looking for a leader who will step to the plate, with charisma and charm, and wrong the rights and fix all the craziness but God’s way hasn’t changed. God’s way is the way of the manger – the way of humility.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
Background: Roman society was divided into many classes. You were born into your class and there’s nothing you could do to get out if it. Unlike Augustus who surrounded himself with powerful elites, God came to those who were the lowest. Shepherds were a smelly lot. They were dirty but they were on God’s mailing list.
Application: Do you think that you don’t deserve the grace of God? His grace is available to you.
IV. GOD’S WAY IS ALWAYS ONE PERSON TELLING ANOTHER.
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
That is still God’s Way – the angels told the shepherds, the shepherds came and saw, the shepherds went and told others, and the others marveled. Are you afraid of what’s happening in this world? Are wondering where God is in all this? He is perfectly in charge and His plan keeps moving. The real question is do you know Him as your Savior?