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The Faith of Joseph

The beauty of the snowy scene reflects the beauty of the faith of Joseph
Photo Credit: Liz Griffin

December 20, 2023

Praying Friends,

Today we will take a break from our series through the Bible to focus on Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

Little is known about Joseph. We know that he was of the tribe of Judah, a son of David, and therefore in the kingly line. When Jesus was born, Joseph was a carpenter in the unpopular town of Nazareth.

Around the time of Jesus’ birth, God spoke to Joseph on at least 3 occasions, and the choices he made, based on what God told him, would fulfill prophecy, impact the whole world and change his own life, and also that of the baby’s, the baby Jesus that would come into his family.

The first time God spoke to Joseph was in Matthew 1:18-25.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

This situation posed a huge problem for Joseph. Despite the binding betrothal, they were not legally married and had not slept together. It is likely the people of Nazareth would have assumed that Joseph was the biological dad or that Mary had been unfaithful to him. So Joseph had a choice to either side with God on what he knew was true, or to heap shame on her with the rest of Nazareth.

In that society, where women were greatly undervalued, it would have been much easier for Joseph to accuse her of committing sexual sin, wipe his hands clean of it all, and distance himself from the situation.

Joseph made a choice. He obeyed God’s Word and did the right thing! Remember, all he had was a word from God, and that was enough. This is the essence of true faith.

You have a similar challenge today. What will you do with the truth that you know?

The second time God spoke to Joseph was recorded in Matthew 2:13-15.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

Joseph had another choice to make. He obeyed God’s Word and did the courageous thing!

Imagine grabbing a few possessions, leaving your home, and secretly fleeing by night down the dusty road on a 700 km walk to Egypt with your wife and little baby. Metaphorically, this was a walk of faith! He was walking into the unknown. He was embarking on a dangerous trip filled with thieves and robbers, not knowing when or if he would ever return. 

You have a similar challenge. Are you living by faith in God, or by your own self-made ideas? God is calling you to a deeper walk with Him.

Some of you may be dreading this season of the year. Life is full of troubles and difficulties. God wants to be with you in all of those experiences. This is what David said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4) Whether it is sickness, death, employment, family, or any other problem, God wants to walk with you through it all.

The third time God spoke to Joseph was in Matthew 2:19-23

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

What was Joseph’s choice? It was another faith-choice. Would he listen to God and make the tough trip back, or stay in familiar, comfortable circumstances? Joseph obeyed God’s Word and did the difficult thing. He listened to God, and in doing so, facilitated the purposes of God for Jesus coming into the world.

Joseph understood that the main character of this story was not himself but Jesus. He was willing to assist in God’s plan. He recognized the uniqueness of Jesus and His divine mission, and it seemed that Joseph was content to slip into the background and let the light shine on Jesus.

The final challenge is this: are you, like Joseph, willing to facilitate the purposes of God for His Son by trusting Him?

The glory, the honor, the worship — all belong to Him. May your lives be such that He alone gets what He deserves both now and forevermore.

Thank you for praying for our prodigals and for revival among us! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Love in Christ,

Bryan and Rachel


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