In Those Days

0
741

‘In those  days a decree went out  from Emperor Augustus that all the  world should be  registered. This was the  first registration and was  taken while  Quirinius was  governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went  from the town of Nazareth  in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David, called Bethlehem because he was  descended from  the house and family of David’ (Lk 2:1-4). 

We are  familiar with  the   rest of the  story. So we are skipping it  for the  time being and  instead  focusing on  the first verse as it  is   more relevant now  than ever.  ‘In those days / a decree went out / from Emperor Augustus / that  all the  world / should be registered’. I have  divided  this  sentence  into five parts  because  we need to  discuss  each of them independent of other parts. Let us  study them  one by one.

In those days

—————

This  is related to the time  when the emperor ordered a census of  his  subjects. What  was  so special about those days? The Roman empire was  ruling over major parts of  the Holy Land  and   surrounding  areas. It was the    wealthiest  empire   of the time. Administrative, judicial and  revenue  systems  were perfectly in place  in all the   provinces. Conducting  a census was  not a difficult  exercise from the  government’s  side.   People would not hesitate  to register themselves  for they feared the emperor’s  military strength. Nobody was  given an exception from this  registration, not even pregnant women. This is why  Joseph had to  take his expectant  wife  also along with  him to Bethlehem. 

Was the  timing  of this  census relevant in any other  context? Yes. It was  the  time appointed  for   Jesus, the  promised Saviour,  to  come to this  world. In this  sense, ‘in those days’ means in the  days  immediately preceding the  birth of  Jesus!

A decree went out

——————–

It was  an order from the  government. It was mandatory, not voluntary. No exceptions, not  even religious  exceptions were  permitted.  Because the  government  wanted  to have a  detailed  record  of  each and every  citizen. It is the state’s duty to  care for every citizen. Without  proper records how can the  state look after the  welfare of  its subjects? You might argue.  No, No. I  do not   want  any service from the  state. Please excuse me from registration.  But it  was not possible.  Because it was the command of the  sovereign  ruler. And  you are only  one among  his  millions of subjects!

From Emperor Augustus

————————-

True, the  decree originated from the  most powerful  emperor on  earth at that time. With all the power  –  military, political  and economic – in their hands, the Roman empire had the wherewithal to meticulously    execute the  decree of  its emperor.  Especially so when Caesar considered himself  god and  demanded that  he be  worshipped. As such, for an ordinary citizen a  decree from the  emperor  was  as good as   divine commandment.

That  all the  world

———————

Emperor Augustus wanted  all the world to be registered. Looks a  bit  strange, indeed. Because   he  was  ruling only a part of the world at that time. At its peak the  Roman empire consisted of  Western Europe (including England and Wales, Spain, Italy, France and Greece), Northern Africa  and West Asia. It was nowhere near a global empire in the strict sense.  But undoubtedly, it was the most influential  and  powerful empire of the time.  Why then, should  Luke mention a decree to   get all the  world registered? Maybe it  was a usage  commonly found in the Bible. In Esth 13:2 we  read about  King Ahasuerus introducing himself as ‘ Master of the world’. And in 2 Chr 36:23   we read  the statement of  King  Cyrus of Persia   acknowledging that ‘the Lord, the God of heaven, had given him all the  kingdoms of  earth’.  In the  New Testament, there are  instances  where a person   claims authority  over the  whole world. In the  first  case  it was  the  devil himself boasting  about his   authority over  everything  in this world in his attempt to  tempt Jesus in  the wilderness. Jesus himself  once used the phrase ‘ the ruler of this  world’ ( Jn 12:31). And in the Book of Revelation  we  come across a  ‘beast’ who was  given   authority  over the  whole world for  a  limited period for the  fulfilment of prophecies (Rev 13:7). 

Should be registered

———————-

Perhaps this is  the  key word. The   emperor  commanded that every  person under the sun should register themselves   with the government. In old times, we  used to  call it the census, which was  by and large  an exercise at the  macro level to  get basic  data about the  population. But of late, this  concept has undergone  a sea change with governments   insisting that  each and every person should  have   a unique identification number or citizen number so as to  avail  public  services, social security benefits    and other utilities.

In short, the registration of citizens was  a mandatory exercise  imposed upon all the subjects just before the  birth of  Jesus. You might wonder  why  the  issue of an  old census conducted   some two  thousand  years  back should  be  raked up again when the census  has become  a part of  our life  for the  past  two centuries.  Let me tell you; this  Bible verse has a  direct bearing on what is  happening  in our days.   The  registration of  citizens was  made  mandatory  by the   emperor, but  we should not  forget  that  it was  also  part of  the  divine  plan for salvation.  God wanted  his son to be born in Bethlehem, not  Nazareth. God  wanted  Joseph the  Righteous and the Blessed Virgin to be  at   the  right place  for this  great  event to  take place at the right time!

If  this  happened in the  first coming  of Jesus, it can happen   before  his  glorious  second coming  as well. When the rulers of this  world   compel  each and  every person to  get registered  in a unique way,  God will  lead  His people,  the  elect or  remnant, to  a place  prepared  for them, where they will be provided with  the  bare  necessities of life. If Joseph and Mary  had to be  satisfied with the  warmth of  a manger  for their newborn, can we   expect anything better in the coming days when  we have to say an emphatic ‘No’ to the  ‘ruler of this world’? 

A universal registration  of citizens  is the  perfect  backdrop for the   second  coming of   Jesus Christ. It is  not a mere wish  or imagination; the Book of Revelation tells  us that   this  registration   process should precede  the second coming. When we read about the mark of the beast  that is  going to be  forced upon   mankind, ‘remember that  it is the number of  a person’ ( Rev 13:18).  In other  words,  they  are   compelling us to  get registered with  this  unique mark  that represents our identity.

Doubting  Thomases would say; “But no such exercise is  being   conducted nowadays apart from the  routine census done  by  individual   countries”. They are  right.  Officially there are no plans to  conduct a global census.  What we  do  nowadays is  to   consolidate the  population figures of    all countries together to  arrive at  the  global population. At present it  is  around  seven and a half billion.  But we are  talking about a different  kind of census and  in this case never think that  enumerators will come to you  to collect the necessary details in  a format specially  designed for the  purpose.  Instead  the government will simply use your  unique identification number  to which everything else  would have been  linked by then.  

I told  you, the  key word is ‘should be registered’. Now look around and see what  is happening in your country and elsewhere in the  world. Vaccine  mandates,  vaccine passports,  linking  vaccination status to  citizen number, preventing the unvaccinated from entering  public places and  even churches:   all these happen   before our own eyes.  Before imposing these  restrictions,   they insisted that every person should have  a unique  citizen number, by whatever    nomenclature it was  called.  India, the biggest democracy that accounts for  a sixth of the world population, calls it  Aadhar Number. And   China with a   population of  1.5 billion calls it  Resident Identity Number. It is  an 18 digit unique identification number. Instead of 18, we can  read it  as   6+6+6 also, of course, if you are  not averse to linking current  events  to Bible prophecies.  Now imagine  a number  with  18 digits. If my understanding is  correct, it is  not  billions or trillions, but a hundred quadrillions and it is  really mind-boggling! When the  world population  is just 7.5 billion (which  is   a  10 digit number) what would have  prompted  them to   introduce  an 18 digit  citizen number?  In some countries the  citizen identification number is  called Social Security Number. Some other countries  call it  simply Citizen Number.  Some others   prefer the  term Resident Number.

After all, what is there in a name? Simply nothing. Their  purpose is same; to track the citizens! Governments would claim that  their  intentions are  such noble things as  having a  database   for  good governance and   making  cash  transfers from the government  hassle free and fast. When you are   required to  mention your citizen number while filing your income tax returns, it serves as a  kind of check against  black money.  When  you are required to  mention this  number in  your medicare  or   insurance claims, it acts  as a kind of database about the   health  status   of   citizens. When  you are  required to  mention this number at a free-food counter, its role is to  ensure that   state funds  go to the  needy and  deserving only.  When they ask your  citizen number  for issuing  passport, it is to cross check your  previous history so  as to eliminate the possibility  of  a history  sheeter getting a passport  and  using it for committing   crimes. See, how noble and lofty are the intentions!

But behind all these so-called  advantages, the  naked truth remains that  compulsory registration of   citizens is the  best tool  available to   the state to  monitor the  activities of each and every citizen. Once you  are  caught  in  the  net, the state knows how to  manipulate, coerce, pressurise or threaten you.  We have been seeing  exactly  what  George Orwell wrote or  even  more than that. It is going to  be harder in the  coming   days and  as of now, mandatory vaccination  is  the tool they prefer the most.

Now let us go back  to where  we started from  and   re-read the  verses in the  current context.

In those days:  In the  days   just preceding the   second coming  of Jesus Christ, a compulsory registration  of   citizens will be   mandated.

A decree went out:  It will be an exercise with all the  force of the   state behind it. There will not be  any exceptions, because it is  a decree from the sovereign state and we are  mere  subjects!

From Emperor Augustus: For a change this    decree is coming not  from Augustus Caesar but  from such   august institutions like the United Nations, World  Health Organisation and  two  hundred plus  ‘kings’ who rule the countries of the world. 

That all the world: Yes. It is not limited to  any particular country on  earth.  It is  universal. All the  world   should be  registered.  Now  we should  thank the Holy Spirit  for having inspired  Luke the  Evangelist  to write that the registration   exercise   was for  all the  world, even when he  knew that  it was  applicable to the Roman empire only!

Should be  registered: Repeat, should be registered. Otherwise  you will be stopped at the grocery, metro station, bank, hospital,church, toll plaza and  perhaps at  every  place outside   your  house.  During  a famine, you  will beg for  a loaf of bread and  you  are  not going to get it unless you are registered with the new  citizen id which can be  linked to   your vaccinations status. 

Are you afraid? There is no need to get  afraid now. And there is no use  of  getting afraid too. If you start fearing now, what will you  do  when the real persecution begins?  This is only  the beginning.  Difficult times are  in store for us.  Unless you  bow your  head in total submission to the  global  power, you are treated as  perhaps ‘non-citizens’, a term  that even  the most pessimist   of  all would  not dare to utter. But we are  moving fast to   a situation  where  everything  earthly  will  come  with  a price and the  price will  be  a mark on our  hand or forehead.

Let me conclude with  a familiar verse from the Book of Revelation.  “Also it causes all, both small and  great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the  right hand or the  forehead, so that  no one can buy or sell who does not have  the mark, that is, the name of the  beast  or the  number or its name” (Rev 13:16). This time  is already upon us. We have to be prepared because the days ahead are  not going to be  comfortable as it  has been in the past.

John continues : “This  calls for wisdom”. Let us pray for the  wisdom to  discern the  signs of the  times and to make  informed decisions in everything  we do.  Be  alert. Because the enemy comes stealthily and he will never  disclose his true  intention until it is done.  We have  seen it  in the  Garden  of Eden. We have  seen it  in  the  life of  Judas. We have seen it  many times in our own life.  So be alert.  Coming days will witness the  ‘hour of trial’  that is going to test the inhabitants of the  earth.  Let us  place  our trust in  Jesus Christ who  promised: “Because  you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the  hour of   trial that is coming on the whole world  to test the inhabitants of the earth’ (Rev 3:10).

Now  it is a vaccine and it is only  the  beginning. God alone  knows what they are planning next. But one thing is for sure.  When you are  discriminated against for not  falling in line  with the  ‘global registration of persons’ – by whatever name  it is called –  understand that it is the beginning of the  end.  It is as plain as  it  looks. We have  entered a  period where Rev 13: 16-18 is  being fulfilled. Our only  consolation is in our  Lord’s  promise that  ‘for the  sake of the elect those days will be cut short’ (Mt 24.22), because at any  cost,  we need to  endure  to the  end. ‘But the one who  endures to the end will be saved’ (Mt 24:13).

The gospel testifies that  the  registration of   citizens conducted  during the  reign of  Augustus Caesar  was  the  first of  its kind. The events  that   changed the   course of  human history forever  started with the  first  registration  exercise. It is  perfectly logical  to   expect  the  consummation of  history too to   start with  a mandatory  registration of  citizens.  Let us  pray to the Holy Spirit to  guide us in these  turbulent  days.

Comments

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here