Baking cookies is a big event for our family. It’s fun. It’s creative. It’s a chance to sit down and smell the aromas of the cookies and enjoy the sights and sounds and tastes of Christmas during a very busy season. Everyone takes a turn at the decorating table. And we do decorate. It’s a marathon day.

But here’s the thing about baking cookies: too long in the over and they burn. Too short and they taste raw and doughy. The timing needs to be right. And you can’t even go by the recipe because different ovens cook differently. Different batches take different times.

Now, getting rid of an overdone (it’s a nice way to say burnt) batch of cookies is not catastrophic. After all it’s just cookies, but, as imperfect humans, we know our timing is not always the best. Most of us have thrown away burnt food.

But God’s timing? Now, that is a completely different story. Here in Luke 2 we see that God’s plans are timed just right.

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:1-5

At exactly the right moment Caesar Augustus decided that a census must be taken. It had to be done. Did he awaken in the middle of night to the sudden realization that he needed a count? Did he believe he himself contrived the scheme of numbering his subjects and the only way to do it was to have the heads of households go back to their cities of origin? Did he have even the slightest clue that he himself was a cog in the turning wheel of God’s plan to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem?

We have no idea what went on in the mind of Caesar. But we know that God coordinated the timing and it was perfect for Mary and Joseph to end up in the tiny town of Bethlehem at just the right moment for the birth. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Micah 5:2.

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