Have you ever imagined being in Joseph’s shoes? He is in a predicament. He is a righteous man. He is betrothed to a chaste young woman. His future looks bright as he maps out plans to build a family with his soon-to-be bride.
But then he hears the shocking news, Mary is pregnant. This is no small dilemma for Joseph, especially since he is not the father of the child. What would you do? What happened in his life is worthy of note this morning. It may help you and me when our dreams are shattered. From Joseph we learn some tremendous truths for troubled times.
1. Trust God When You Are Confused.
Matthew 1:18-19= “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”
So, as you can imagine, Joseph has a real problem on his hands. He has a young teenager who is pregnant. But it is not his child. What is he going to do?
According to the law, if a young lady was found to be unfaithful before her marriage took place, one of three things could happen. She could be stoned to death. The husband to be could make a public disgrace of her and a public spectacle of her or he could put her away privately.
At this point, Joseph is full of confusion. He is full of doubt. He doubted Mary. He doubted her character. He doubted her purity. He doubted her virginity. Maybe he doubted God, because even though Mary had by now told him that God was the father of the child, he didn’t believe God could do this. Then, he doubted himself because he didn’t know what to do. Should he break off the engagement? Well, that is exactly what he decided to do.
Verse 19= “And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”
Joseph now has a big decision on his hands. Was he going to trust God’s or not? Please don’t think this was easy for Joseph to still go along with what God wanted.
According to History there were three theories concerning Mary’s pregnancy. Some said the baby was Joseph’s and that actually he was a fornicator. Others said the baby belonged to Mary’s secret lover. Still others said Mary had been raped by a Roman soldier. Any of these situations would have brought great shame to them. And though we don’t read about it, we know that Joseph had to endure hostile stares and dirty criticism from people all his life.
Then we read in verses 24-25= “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
Do you know why Joseph both married Mary and kept her a virgin until after Jesus was born? It wasn’t just because he loved Mary, but he trusted God. When you are confused, trust Him.
2. Trust God When You Are In A Crisis
Matthew 2:13-15= “Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
That word “flee” is where we get our word “fugitive.” So the angel literally told Joseph, “Go now, Go quickly, Don’t look back, Don’t stop until you are in Egypt.”
Joseph is being told to take a mother and a baby 75 miles (distance from Bethlehem to Egypt) and then another 100 miles into Egypt to get to a place of safety in that country. Traveling with a baby made the trip not only slower, but also more dangerous.
Have you ever taken a small child on a long trip. We went on vacation a couple of years ago and it didn’t take five minutes until some little ones in the back seat saying, “Are we there yet? When are we going to be there? Why is it taking so long? I have to go to the bathroom.”
We need to understand that God’s way is not always the softest way. God’s way is not always the safest way. But God’s way is always the surest way to His blessing and His protection.
God’s will may sometimes lead you to a dangerous place. But the most dangerous place you will ever be is anywhere outside the will of God. The reason why Joseph had to go to Egypt, even though it was a dangerous journey and he was fleeing from danger, is for this simple reason:
Matthew 2:15= “This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Once again we see that God keeps His promise. God had made a promise that out of Egypt, His Son, The Messiah and the Savior of the World would come. God provided a way out of Israel. He provided a place to stay in Egypt and He provided for their needs while they were there. When you are in the middle of a crisis, trust Him.
3. Trust God When Things Are Complicated.
Matthew 2:19-23= “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into 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. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
The time for Jesus to come home had arrived. Herod had died and once again for the 3rd time, in a dream an angel tells Joseph to bring the child back to Israel.
According to Bible scholars, there would have been two natural cities for Joseph to have taken Jesus. One would have been Jerusalem. It was Israel’s largest, most advanced city. It was the city of David. It was the city of royalty. It was the center of spiritual life of the nation of Israel. But God did not allow Joseph to go to Jerusalem.
His 2nd choice would have been Bethlehem. And that was where Jesus was born. It was where David was from and since Jesus was a direct descendant of David and Israel’s future king, it would have been natural for God to have sent Joseph to Bethlehem, but He did not.
Instead, He forces Joseph to go to Nazareth. Nazareth is about 55 miles north of Jerusalem and it was inhabited by people who were noted for their cruel and violent ways. Why did He have to live in Nazareth? The reason once again:
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
As you go through life you are going to find that things are not always going to go according to your plans. The question is, “Will you trust God the way Joseph did?”