The Condition of the World at the Birth of Christ

                While the birth of Christ is a great event, the setting of the birth is important as well, as it could give some context and greater meaning to Christ’s birth. Firstly, one must keep in mind that the holy spirit has departed Israel, and God has not spoken to Israel in over 400 years. This in between period is known as the silent years. The book of Malachi concludes by saying that God would send Elijah as the forerunner for the Messiah. One of the Jewish writers of the time wrote that the altars were torn down and stored until a prophet came and give them instruction. The people of Israel were spiritually starving when Christ was born.
Second, the nation of Israel has also been taken over by the Romans. Caesar Augustus has just decreed a census which requires citizens to return to their place of birth to be counted. So while Israel  was free from the slavery of the Babylonians or the Egyptians, they still had an earthly power over them instead of God alone. To come back to the census, there is a young couple that you may have heard of, Joseph and Mary, who have to travel to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Joseph. This was a considerable trip of 100 miles from Nazareth, and Mary was well along in her pregnancy. There is a secondary matter to considers in this pregnancy. Mary is carrying a child is not from Joseph. Joseph is no fool, he knows exactly how babies are made, so he is about to stone Mary for adultery until an angel of the Lord tells Joseph that the child is the son of God.
Thirdly, while the Roman Empire had allowed some autonomy to the governance of the Jewish people, there were several groups that were trying to lead them. These were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Zealots. The Pharisees placed the traditions of the Jewish people above all else. The Sadducees sought to strictly adhere to the Mosaic law. The Essenes were a commune of scribes that lived near Qumran; this group is responsible for writing and preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls that we have used to verify the translations of scripture that we have today.  The Zealots were a group of Jews who sought to overthrow the rule of the Romans, typically through violent means. Between these four groups, constant friction on top of the Roman rule led to much unrest amongst the people.

This is where I will leave off for this part. We have a people who are starving spiritually and politically for a leader. The people of God are desperate for a word from him that can unite them. Thankfully they are about to receive one, “For unto you a child is born.” In the next part I hope to cover the actual birth of Christ and the events that followed. May God bless you and have a good rest of your evening.

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