The Laughter of Heaven and the Plans of Man

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty verses of the second chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist, as well as the birth of Jesus drawing to a close. As you come to this passage you will find the angelic visitations of Gabriel to both Zecharias beside the altar in the remold, as well as the visit unto marry in the twin of Nazareth having already been accomplished. Within this passage you will find Mary’s visit to the hill country of Judah and to the house of Elizabeth having already taken place, and even the birth of John the Baptist having taken place. The second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke brings the reader face to face with the events surrounding the birth of Jesus the Christ. The forerunner and messenger had already been born, and had already entered into the world. We know from the final verses of the first chapter that the child waxed strong with both God and people, grew, and remained in the desert until the day of his appearing and manifesting within and upon the earth. By the time we come to the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke we find the physician transitioning away from angelic visitations, away from familial visitations, and even away from the birth of John the Baptist to now bringing us face to face with the birth of Jesus Christ and the political climate into which Jesus the Christ was born. Within the second chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find that during the days of Caesar Augustus there was a decree which was issued that all the world should be taxed. It would be this decree that would call for every soul to return to the place of their birth and to the place of their origin in order that they might be registered for taxing purposes. It’s actually quite interesting and astounding to think about and consider this very simple event which took place during the days of Jesus’ birth, for these events would be the catalyst to bring Mary and Joseph into the very place where the birth of Jesus was foretold and prophesied to have taken place and occurred.

What we must recognize when beginning to read this passage of scripture is that this was more than just a political and social action on behalf of Caesar Augustus over and upon the whole land in order that all souls might be taxed. It would be incredibly easy to read these facts and to overlook them as somehow being unnecessary and not relevant or important, and yet I am convinced that to do so would be to make a gross mistake concerning the sovereignty of God. If there is one thing we must take into consideration it’s that the Lord can and will do what is necessary in order to bring about His plans and purposes within and upon the earth. On the surface of this passage it might seem like this event was nothing more than the actions of the ruling leader of the Roman Empire, and yet I am convinced that such a thought process and pattern is both naïve and unfounded. It is written in the scriptures that the Lord the hearts of the kings of the earth are like rivers, and the Lord turns them however, whenever and whatever He desires, delights and chooses. With this being said it is important that we recognize and understand the sovereignty of the living God over the hearts and minds of the kings of the earth and how the Lord can act and even intervene in the hearts and lives of kings in order that He might accomplish His will and proposes. I am sure that Caesar thought that his actions on this occasion were his own thoughts and his own imagination, and yet I am completely and utterly convinced that the actions of Caesar were strategically orchestrated by the living God in order that He might bring Mary and Joseph into the exact place they were destined to be. Even though the events of this time and the decree of Caesar were designed to touch and impact the whole world, there is not a doubt in my mind that these events initiated by Caesar were orchestrated by a power that was far greater and fate mightier than his own imagination. There is not a doubt in my mind that there was a divine hand working behind the scenes at this time in order that the plane and purposes of God might be fulfilled and accomplished in the earth. What’s more? Is that what we find and what we read in this passage is a wonderful and powerful demonstration of the sovereignty of the living God over the hearts of kings, as well as over world events and decrees of kings.

I am convinced that in order for us to truly understand that which is found within this passage of Scripture in the New Testament gospel of Luke, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we turn and direct our attention to two specific passages found within the Old Testament. In specific, there are two distinct passages which are found in the Old Testament poetic literature which I am convinced help us to truly understand that which is found within the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke. I am completely and utterly convinced that in order for us to truly understand and appreciate the events which might on the surface look like irrelevant and unnecessary, we must take a step back and look at two passages which are found within the Old Testament books of Probers and Psalms. It is in each of these passages where we find incredible language concerning the Lord’s sovereignty over the kings and rulers of the earth. Perhaps one of the greatest realities which is found in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is the tremendous sovereignty of the living God over the hearts and minds of the kings, and how the Lord has completely authority and power over their actions, over their motives, over their thoughts, over their ambitions, and the like. Despite what we see when we turn on the news, or pick up a newspaper and read the words which are contained therein, there is one inalienable fact that remains the same and has remained the same throughout the years, and that is that the living God is absolutely and completely sovereign over the hearts of kings, and over the hearts of the rulers of the earth. What’s more, is that there is a great deception that is present within the earth today, and has even been present in the earth for centuries—particularly and especially concerning kings and rulers of the earth. There has been this misguided notion that the kings and rulers of the earth have their own authority which they are free to exercise whenever, wherever and however they choose, desire and delight. There are and there have been countless kings of the earth who believe the lie and the deception that they are in control of the kingdoms they rule over, and are able to freely exercise power and authority over the lives and hearts of men. The truth of the matter is that nothing can be further from the truth, for there has never been a king or ruler over the earth who has been able to operate outside the parameters of the sovereignty of the true and living God. There has never been a single king and/or ruler within and upon the earth who has been able to move and operate within their own ideas, their own imaginations, and their own plans and desires. In order to illustrate this point the clearest, it is necessary that we turn and direct our attention to the second chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms, as well as the twenty-first chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs:

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasures. Yet have I set my king upon my hold hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (Psalm 8:1-12).

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts. To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked is sin. The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want. The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment. The way of a man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right. It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house” I(Proverbs 21:1-9).

I have to admit that I absolutely and completely love that which is written and that which is found in these two passages, for what we find within these passages are two powerful demonstrations of the absolute and complete sovereignty of the living God over the kings and rulers of the earth. In the second chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms we find the psalmist asking why the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain things, and then going on to declare how the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His anointed. The purpose for their conspiring together is actually quite simple—to break the bands of the Lord, and of His anointed asunder, and to cast away their cords from them. The entire purpose of the kings of the earth, and the rulers of the world imagining a vain thing, and setting themselves to take counsel together is to bring themselves out from under the authority and sovereignty of the living God. The rulers of the earth take counsel together, and the kings of the earth set themselves in array against the Lord in order that they might exercise their own authority and their own will upon the face of the earth. What’s more, is that according to the psalmist, the kings of the earth and the rulers take counsel together to conspire against the living God in order that they might cast off all restraint, and in order that they might exercise their own authority over the souls and hearts of men upon the earth. Perhaps the greatest idea and concept surrounding that which is found in the second chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms is that the kings of the earth and the rulers of the world conspire together in order that they might first come out from under the authority of the living God, and second to exercise their own will and their own authority over the hearts and lives of men within the earth. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand this concept and reality, for it can and will help us to understand that the hearts of the kings are bent toward insubordination before and toward the living God, and in order that they might exercise their own sovereignty, their own will, their own authority, and their own power within and upon the earth. The psalmist here in this particular passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the tremendous and incredible reality that the kings of the earth and the rulers of the world conspire together in order that they might cast off all restraint so they can in fact enact their own desires, their own wills, their own plans, their own purposes, and their own actions within and upon the earth. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this tremendous and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss the tremendous sovereignty and authority of the living God over both the kings and the rulers of the earth who conspire together in order that they might remove themselves from under the authority of the Lord, and in order that they might exercise their own authority.

What I so love and appreciate about this particular passage of Scripture is that while it does in fact speak of the people imagining a vain thing, while it does speak about the kings of the earth setting themselves, and the rulers of the earth taking counsel together against the Lord, and against His anointed, it goes on to speak about the laughter of heaven and the laughter in heaven. There has been an old adage and an old quip that essentially states that if we want to make God laugh we need to merely tell Him our plans. While it might seem somewhat strange and somewhat insignificant as a minor phrase which has often been used, we find laughter in heaven, and even laughter upon the throne in this particular passage of Scripture. The psalmist goes on to write how the One who sits in the heavens shall laugh, and shall have the people, the kings and the rulers of the earth in derision, and how the Lord will speak unto them in His wrath and vex them in His sore displeasure. It is absolutely critical and vital that we pay close attention to and understand that which is found in this passages of Scripture, for while the kings of the earth, the rulers of the world, and the people all imagine a vain thing and conspire together against the Lord and against His anointed, the Lord—the One who sits in the heavens, and the One who sits upon the throne in heaven—shall laugh at their plans, shall laugh at their agendas, shall laugh at their intentions and their motives. What’s more, is that King and His anointed will have them in derision, will speak unto them in His wrath, and will vex them in His sore displeasure. What’s more, is that within this particular passage you will find a strong and powerful connection between the conspiracy of the kings and rulers of the earth, the imagination of the people, and the establishing of the eternal Son in a place of authority, dominion, might and power. Within this passage you will find the psalmist declaring of the Lord how He can and will set up His King upon His holy hill of Zion, and how He will declare the decree “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Furthermore, you will find in this passage a tremendous promise given unto the eternal Son, for it was unto the Son whom the Father gave the invitation to ask of Him, and He would give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. It would be unto the eternal Son the Living God would declare He would break them with a rod of iron, and would dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. This passage and the words which we find and read in this passage of Scripture must be carefully considered and understood, and must be read in light of that which is written and found in the first and second chapters of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. Consider if you will that which is written and that which is contained within the first two chapters of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews:

“For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquities; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstools? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:5-14).

“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didn’t set him over the works of that hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for ever man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it beloved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:4-18).

There is a strong connection between the people of the earth, the kings of the earth, and the rulers of the earth imagining a vain thing and conspiring together against the Lord and against His anointed, as well as the Lord setting His King upon His holy hill in Zion. There is a strong connection found within this passage of Scripture concerning the sovereignty and authority of the living God, the authority of the Son, and both as set in array against and in contrast to the authority, the power, the plans, and the purposes of the kings and rulers of the earth. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand what is taking place within this passage because this reality is clearly seen in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke when we find and read of Caesar Augustus issuing a decree in those days that all the world should be taxed, as well as the birth of Jesus taking place in the little town of Bethlehem. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is a wonderful and powerful picture of the decree of a king, and yet the sovereignty of the Lord over the decree of the king. It would be very easy to read the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke and think about the actions of Caesar Augustus as being those of his own imagination and those of his own understanding, and yet Scripture points to and reveals a completely different picture. Not only do we find in the Scriptures a wonderful and powerful declaration concerning the heart of the king being in the hand of the Lord, and as the rivers of water the Lord turns it wherever He will, but we also find an Old Testament prophecy which was spoken by Micah. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fifth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Micah you will find the following words which were written and spoken by this ancient Hebrew prophet concerning the Messiah and the place of His birth: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, thou thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:2-3).

There is within this passage of Scripture within the Old Testament prophetic book of Micah a wonderful and powerful prophetic word that reveals where the Messiah would be born, and where the Messiah would have His place of origin, for the prophet Micah emphatically declares and proclaims that out of the town of Bethlehem would the Messiah come forth—the One who would ruler over the nations with a rod of iron. It would be in this second chapter of the prophetic book of Micah that we would find a wonderful and powerful prophetic word concerning the place of origin of the Messiah, as well as the authority, the power and dominion He would exercise within and upon the earth. This reality is also further expressed—perhaps even first expressed—in the prophetic book of Isaiah and by the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah. In the seventh and ninth chapters of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah we find the following words which were written by the ancient Hebrew prophet concerning the Messiah. Consider if you will the words which were prophesied, written and recorded by this ancient Hebrew prophet concerning the Messiah who would be born into the earth, and would be born to rule and reign as a king within and upon the earth:

“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorest shall be forsaken of both her kings” (Isaiah 7:14-16).

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the PRinc elf Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Each of these passages found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah point to the miraculous and supernatural events surrounding the birth of the Messiah and His coming into the world “for such a time as this.” Within these passages we not only find the Messiah would be born of a virgin, but we also find the Messiah would be born into the world in order that he might rule and reign as a king. What I so love about the birth of the Messiah is that a decree which was issued by the king of Rome—one that touched the entire world—would only be permitted in order that it might fulfill and accomplish the will, the plans and the purposes of the living God. The decree which Caesar Augustus would issue at this time would impact the entire world, however, it would be used to bring Mary and Joseph in the town of Bethlehem in order that in Bethlehem Jesus the Christ might be born. While on the surface it appeared that the decree which Caesar Augustus issued was of his own intellect and his own Mia nation, I am convinced that it was nothing more than the heart of this king being found in the hand of the Lord, and the Lord directing it wherever He desired, and wherever He wanted it to go. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read in this passage of Scripture is a wonderful and powerful picture of the heart of Caesar Augustus being found in the hand of the Lord, and the Lord directing him to issue the decree that would bring Mary and Joseph into the town of Bethlehem in order that the Messiah might be born in this little town of Judah to fulfill the prophetic word that was proclaimed through and by the prophetic Micah. What we find and what we read in this passage of Scripture is a wonderful and powerful picture of the heart of a king being found in the hand of the Lord, and the Lord turning it wherever He would in order that His plans and His purposes might be fulfilled and accomplished in the earth. We would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand this when reading the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, for what appears to be a decree of Caesar to tax the whole world would actually be a supernatural movement of the hand of God within and upon the earth in order that He might bring about the will, the plans and purposes of His heart for the Messiah and for the earth. The actions of Caesar in this passage of Scripture were used for one purpose and one purpose alone—and that wasn’t that the whole world might be taxed or enrolled. The main purpose for this decree of Caesar Augustus during these days would be to bring about the birth of the Messiah in the town of Bethlehem in order that the prophetic word and Messianic promise spoken concerning Him would be fulfilled and completed within the earth.

It is absolutely critical that we recognize and understand this tremendous and important reality, for it helps shine a tremendous amount of light on the wonderful reality surrounding the birth of the messiah in the town called Bethlehem. The decree of Caesar that the whole world might be taxed was a decree that would bring about the journey of Mary and Joseph into the town of Bethlehem in order that the Messiah might be brought forth in this small town so the prophetic word spoken through the prophet Micah could and would be fulfilled. Within this second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke—not only do we find the prophetic word of Micah being fulfilled and brought about as the Messiah was born in Bethlehem, but we also find the prophetic word of Isaiah being fulfilled as the child was born of a virgin. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that in a single night two prophetic words which were spoken concerning the Messiah centuries and millennia earlier would come to pass and would be fulfilled. What’s more, is that the heart of the king of Rome at that time was clearly in the hand of the Lord, for it was at the appointed time this decree was made that actually coincided with the fullness of days of Mary’s pregnancy in order that she might deliver and bring forth her firstborn child. In the sixth verse of the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke we find the language “the days were accomplished that she should be delivered,” and these words directly coinciding with the decree which Caesar issued over all the earth at that time. The decree which Caesar issued during those days would directly intersect with the fullness of Mary’s days, and the appointed time for Jesus to be born—not only of a virgin, but also in the town of Bethlehem. If there is one thing we must understand and take from this passage of Scripture, it’s not only that the Lord is sovereign over the plans, the decrees, the imaginations, and the will of kings and rulers of the earth, but the Lord would also use a world event in order that He might fulfill His own word and will, and in order that He might bring forth His king into the earth. How absolutely remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that the Lord would use an earthly decree of a king in order to bring about the fulfillment of something much greater than the taxing of the word and the decree of the king. What we find in this passage of Scripture is a wonderful and mighty picture of the sovereignty of the living God over the decrees of kings, and the sovereignty of the living God over world events in order that He might bring about His own will, His own plans, and His own purposes within and upon the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find in this passage of Scripture is a wonderful picture of the sovereignty of the living God over world events, over kings, over the decrees of kings, and all in order that He might bring about the fulfillment of His own will which was prophesied by two ancient Hebrew prophets. The virgin conceiving was the fulfillment of the prophetic word which was prophesied by the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah, and the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and the subsequent birth of Jesus in the town of Bethlehem would bring about the fulfillment of the word and will of the Lord. OH that we would read the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke and that we would bow before and surrender to a living God who is not only sovereign over world events and current affairs, but also a God who is sovereign over the plans, the decrees and the desires of kings and rulers of the earth. Oh that we would bow before and worship a living God who will turn the hearts of kings and rulers of the earth—even the most powerful king(s) of the earth—in order that He might fulfill and bring about His own plans and purposes which are far greater and more superior than any decree of the kings and rulers of the earth. Oh that we would recognize and understand the sovereignty of the living God over world events, over rulers, over kings, and over princes, and the like, and that we would understand that if the sovereign Lord can turn the heart of an ancient King to bring about His own will, His own word, and His own purpose in the earth—namely, the birth of the Messiah—so also can He exercise sovereignty within and upon events and circumstances within your life in order that He might bring about the fulfillment of His own will and His own good pleasure during the days in which we live.

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