According to His Purpose

By Tim Sullivan


The Bible makes the very bold statement that all things work together for good.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Things do not work out for good because of good luck or because they happen to fall into place. Things work out because they were designed to work out according to God's purpose. His plan was put into place before the world began.

Ephesians 3:9
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 1:11
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

2 Timothy 1:9
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

700 years before Christ was born, a prophet living in Judah spoke these words:

Isaiah 9:6-7  
6 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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 
7 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.

Around the same time that Isaiah spoke his prophecy, the city of Rome was founded on a distant peninsula. According to tradition, that year was 753 BC. It was only shortly before the time of Christ's birth that Rome became an empire.

Luke 2:1
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Caesar Augustus was the founder and first emperor of the Roman Empire. He ruled from 27 BC to his death in AD 14. Caesar Augustus was not his birth name; he was born Gaius Octavius, the grandnephew of Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar was the only one of the famous Caesars actually born with that name. Julius was a legendary general and politician of the Roman Republic. Such was his impact on world history that from the name Caesar comes the German title “Kaiser” and the Russian title “Czar.” The seventh month of the year – July – was named in his honor.

Beginning with Caesar Augustus, the name “Caesar” was appropriated by all the Roman emperors as part of their title. “August” means grand, exalted, magnificent.

Here is a VERY short history of the Rome from its foundation to its emergence as an empire:

  • 753 BC – the city of Rome is founded as a monarchy.
  • 509 BC to 27 BC – Rome is governed as a Republic, lead by the Roman Senate. In a republic, the exercise of sovereign power is lodged in representatives of the people, either by election or appointment. In a democracy, the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the people collectively.
  • 59 BC to 53 BC – Rome is ruled by the “First Triumvirate” – three Roman generals, Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great, and Marcus Licinius Crassus.
  • 53 BC – Crassus killed in battle. The armies of Pompey and Caesar clash in a civil war for power.
  • 48 BC: Pompey assassinated in Egypt. Julius becomes a dictator of the Republic of Rome with Marcus Antonius his second in command.
  • 44 BC: Caesar assassinated by a group of senators led by Marcus Brutus. In his will he names his grandnephew Gaius Octavius (aka Caesar Augustus) as his heir and adopted son.
  • 42 BC: Marcus Antonius avenges the murder of Julius Caesar when his armies defeat Brutus and Cassius at Philippi.
  • 37 BC: Rome appoints Herod king of Judea. Marcus Antonius is sent to Egypt where he has an affair with Cleopatra, the queen and last ruling pharaoh of Egypt. Cleopatra had previously borne a son to Julius Caesar, named Caesarion, whom they felt was the rightful heir. Another civil war begins for the rule of Rome.
  • 31 BC: Gaius Octavius defeats Marcus Antonius in battle putting an end to the civil wars.
  • 30 BC: Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra commit suicide and Egypt is annexed to Rome. Gaius Octavius renames himself Caesar Augustus and is made the first emperor of Rome.

    With the political world in such a state of turmoil, it is no wonder that King Herod was so unnerved by the rumors of the birth of a new king.

    Matthew 2:1-12:
    1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
    2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
    3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
    4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
    5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
    6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
    7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
    8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
    9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
    10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
    11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
    12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

    God instructed Joseph to take his family and find refuge in Egypt. This is how the prophecy of Hosea came to pass:

    Hosea 11:1
    When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

    The annexation of Egypt following the defeat of Anthony and Cleopatra made it possible for Joseph and Mary to have safe passage into Egypt. This is where Jesus spent his early years until the death of Herod, which historians say occurred in the spring of 4 BC.

    Once again this amazing truth is made plain: Things work out because they were designed to work out, "being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph 1:11). Knowing this gives all believers a great amount of peace even when facing the most unpleasant situations.

    Psalm 31:15
    My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.


    Here is a link to my PowerPoint presentation on this message.


    Presented November 29, 2015