He’s a good God, isn’t he, readers?
Today we’re going to consider God’s dealings with Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father figure) as recorded in Matthew 1. There are some real lessons to be learned in our understanding of how God talks to us, as we look at God’s dealings with Joseph.
Joseph, you will recall was the man married to Mary, Jesus’ mother. For the record, Christ was born of a virgin, and he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, not a man. So if I refer to Joseph as Jesus’ father, rather than split hairs, I’m confident you understand what I mean. Happy day!
By understanding some things about God’s dealings with Joseph, we can better understand God’s dealings with us.
Here are three things about God’s dealings with Joseph that translate directly to the ways God deals with his children:
- God helped Joseph understand what was happening
- God told Joseph how to proceed
- God told Joseph the future
Let’s consider how God helped Joseph understand what was happening.
1. God Helped Joseph Understand What Was Happening
Our story begins as Joseph is considering “putting away”, or calling off his engagement to Mary who is pregnant with Jesus.
As he is considering what to do, God’s angel spoke to him in a dream, and went on to explain why Mary was pregnant. He explained that Mary was pregnant because she is going to bear the Messiah, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost. Additionally, God gave Joseph further understanding into the great importance of Jesus’ ministry, all with a not-so-subtle overtone that he’s counting on Joseph to fill a specific and super important role.
Joseph, like anybody with an impregnated fiancée not of his own doing, is probably very bothered, depressed, and to an extent, embarassed. I can only imagine what was going through his head.
And just before Joseph seals the deal in his mind that he’ll put Mary away, God shows up and explains everything; has he ever done that with you? Has there ever been a time when things couldn’t be more confusing, couldn’t seem more unfair, and you were at wits end when God himself with the stroke of his hand opened your eyes to the bigger picture of a situation?
Joseph was struggling hard to understand – and then God shows up and makes everything perfectly clear. Just as God helped Joseph understand a situation, he’ll do the same for us. But wait – God’s not done talking… he’s only just begun. Next, he’s going to tell Joseph what he expects from Joseph!
2. God Told Joseph How to Proceed
So at this point, God has met with Joseph in a dream, and has given Joseph details into why things are the way they are, and now he’s going to tell Joseph how to proceed.
He tells Joseph to marry Mary. Marry – Mary…say that 10 times with a huge smile on your face, and I’ll meet you in the woods with Robin Hood.
Pretend I didn’t just say that – so Joseph is instructed to wed Mary (that’s better), and on top of that, he’s told to name the boy JESUS. In the midst of a difficult situation, have you ever received specific marching orders?
The great thing about God giving his children specific instructions is this: it proves that he wants us to be useful to him. It proves that he has worked for us to do, and that he’s using us to accomplish his purpose. And that much right there is really all that matters in this life, isn’t it? To be useful to the Lord.
Even if it means doing something that we don’t want to do – having God tell us to do anything means that he deems us worthy to serve him. Not that any of us are, but that God thinks we are. God told Joseph to stay betrothed to Mary – in other words, keep on the same course. What’s he telling you to do?
3. God Told Joseph the Future
Now before anyone takes this to mean that God is a crystal ball for everything one could possibly inquire about, understand right now that I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is this:
As God often deals with us on a “need to know” basis, there are times he will show us future events that for some reason he feels we need to know. Typically when he does this, it’s extremely personal, and not to be shared. There have been times that God has made me aware of things before they ever happened, and he may have done the same with you. Don’t ask me to explain when, how, or why he does it – he’s God; he does whatever he sees fit.
Here, he does it with Joseph. Specifically, he tells Joseph that the child to be born is going to be a boy, that’s his name is to be JESUS, that he is to save Israel from their sins, and that he is also going to be called Emmanuel. In other words, he gives Joseph a glimpse of the future of the child to be born – Christ.
Every now and then we need a warning – and sometimes God gives a glimpse of the future to provide us with that warning. Every now and then we need encouragement to keep going – and sometimes God gives us a glimpse of the future to give us that motivation when our “want-to bone” is dislocated. He’s got different reasons for revealing his will, but one thing stays the same: when he does, it’s to help us understand the need for us to stay in line with him.
Today we considered three things about God’s dealings with Joseph in Matthew 1: God help Joseph understand what was really happening, he told Joseph what to do with Mary and her future son, and he explained to Joseph the importance of Jesus’ ministry.
And here’s the greatest part of all of God’s dealings with Joseph: Joseph did exactly what he was told. There was no balking, there was no debate, and there was no hesitation on the part of Joseph. What God told Joseph to do is what Joseph did.
Part of the reason we see so little of God’s power nowadays is those that God deals with don’t react like Joseph did. We like to debate, consider, daydream, and get distracted – and when the day is over the only thing we have to show is procrastination, a lack of activity, laziness, and ultimately, disobedience.
On the other hand, during those times that we are diligent to seek the Lord, listen to what he has to say, and do exactly as he says, we make ourselves the kind of people that God wants to have intimate dealings with.
The Bible declares that Joseph was a just man – a just man with whom God communicated. Can the same be said of you? Can the same be said of me? The answers to those questions rest solely on the shoulders of those whom these questions are levied – you and me. Let’s be people who can hear God just like Joseph, and just like Joseph, let’s be people who do as the Lord bids us.
God bless and see you next time here at The Servant’s Journal.