"Lesser Known Bible People"
Background on little known people in the Bible.
Caesar Augustus & the First Christmas
He rose from relative obscurity to become the most powerful man in the world before he died.
Born September 23, 63 BC, Octavianus, was the nephew of Julius Caesar, and raised by his grandmother and Julius Caesar's sister, Julia Caesaris. Caesar had adopted him as his son and heir. Upon his adoption he took the name of his great-uncle Gaius Julius Caesar. He later took the name Augustus, meaning ‘honorable' and so great became his power and leadership that the following Caesars all took that same title on becoming his successors.
Augustus slowly acquired a succession of job titles; to consolidate his power and hold, over the Roman Senate. At two different times in his career he took the temporary office of Consul. He served as a Consul in the years 5 and 2 BC. In this capacity he was empowered to determine the membership of the Roman Senate; and to hold a Census throughout the Roman Empire. In a document titled, ‘Res Gestae Divi Augusti' -recounting his deeds as Emperor he wrote:
‘A third time, with the consular imperium, and with my son Tiberius Caesar as my colleague,
I performed the census in the consulship.' -2-8 Res Gastae.
The Senate bestowed on Caesar Augustus the title of ‘Pater Patriae' or ‘Divine Father of the Country' in 2 BC. It was the 750th Anniversary of the founding of Rome, and Augustus' 25th Anniversary since becoming Caesar. It was decreed that all the inhabitants of the Roman Empire be registered in their city of origin, and swear allegiance to him as the ‘Pater Patriae'
"Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus,
that all the world should be enrolled." Luke2:1 ASV
St. Luke clearly writes in the Greek text that this was an enrollment, and not a tax; as the old King James Version translates the word. Many scholars assumed that Luke had made a mistake here; but documents and inscriptions have since come to light that confirmed the Lukan assertions in every detail.
Little did the great Caesar Augustus realize that his decree would set in motion the placing of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, in perfect time for the prophetic fulfillment of the birth of Jesus, the son of God. In a very real way Caesar Augustus became a divinely directed participant in the first Christmas. The Bible says that:
"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." Prov 21:1.
Perhaps the Lord is working in your circumstances in a way you feel may be inconvenient. I am quite sure that Joseph and Mary must have felt that way; as they walked the 70 miles to Bethlehem. It is important to know that God is in control of your life when good things happen; and also when things happen you are not content with. We live in a world of uncertainty and change; it is here that we can trust God; until He makes us look in the rear view mirror. Then we begin to see clearly that we were in God's plan all the time.
©2012 Jim Cole-Rous
Lewis & Reinhold, Roman Civilization, vol. II, pps. 34-35, Harper Torchbooks Edition.