Saturday, May 19, 2007

Matthew 1:24-25 “God’s Revelation/Joseph’s Response” Part 3

The short version of this Bible study is that Joseph responded to God’s revelation by obeying His command. However, I believe a closer look at the scripture will provide many practical observations that we can apply to our daily lives.

First of all, upon being aroused from sleep where he had received a heavenly dream with instructions from God on what to do about the situation with Mary, Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. We must assume, then, that he believed this message came from God. Taking advice from people in difficult situations is one thing. However, what he had been ordered to do in this supernaturally delivered dream was to trust God completely for his and Mary’s safety. Since Mary was now pregnant through supernatural means, people would assume that he and Mary had consummated the marriage before the wedding ceremony. By marrying her, people would have assumed that he was admitting guilt of sin. However, because he believed the message to have been from God Himself, he obeyed. We see his faith in God is proved here by his obedience. As James records in the 22nd verse of chapter one of his epistle, we should be “Doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving [our] selves.”

Now, of course, God doesn’t speak in dreams like this anymore. He has completely revealed Himself in a Book. The Bible contains God’s complete message to man and if we want to know about God and His will, we should read and study His Word. It is true that God also speaks through His people, circumstances, and the Holy Spirit and there are things He calls us to do that are not in His Word. A call to the mission field or vocational ministry would not be in scripture. When God dealt with me about preaching, there was obviously no verse that said “Joe, go preach.” However, had I not been studying His word, I would never have been sensitive to the call He made on my life. Some people want a supernatural call on their lives before they will obey the voice of God. I submit to you that the primary way you will hear God speak is through study of His word. In that way, you will be in close fellowship with Him and be more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

We see revealed in Joseph’s character an obedient heart, we also see in this scripture that Joseph was able to restrain himself. We are told that Joseph did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son and that Joseph called his name Jesus. When people get married, they consummate the marriage after the ceremony (in private of course). However, even though he obeyed the revelation of God without hesitation, he restrained himself in this matter and Mary remained a virgin until she had given birth. We know it was not due to a fear of sin that he did this because, as Paul notes in 1st Corinthians, the “marriage bed is undefiled”. God did not choose to reveal exactly why Joseph chose this course of action. However, we can admire the fact that he was willing and able to deny himself the opportunity to consummate the marriage and assume that it was due to a conviction of his conscience. We do recognize that they did have normal marital relations after Jesus’ birth. While some teach that Mary remained a virgin perpetually, scripture tells us that Joseph did not know her till Jesus was born. Clearly, that indicates that he did know her afterwards. We also know this to be true from the gospel accounts of Jesus’ brothers and sisters (Matthew 13:55-56, John 7:3). We can be thankful for the obedient life of Joseph and Mary. They set a powerful example for us because they followed God even when the situation appeared difficult.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved

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