Daily D – Matthew 1:20-21
Matthew 1:20, 21 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (CSB)
Family history is interesting. Some people invest years of research into figuring out their ancestry. They often enjoy visiting places like libraries and cemeteries. They carefully comb through legal documents and the fading engravings etched on tombstones.
Matthew’s Gospel begins with a genealogy. It has a few surprises in it. If you know these people from the different eras of God’s work with his people, you might well raise an eyebrow at one or two, or more, of these characters.
Take, for example, Judah. How did he get in there? Do you remember his story? Just in case you have forgotten what a rotten guy he was, notice how Matthew says, “Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar.” Genesis 38 tells us the story. It interrupts the story of Joseph. Joseph was an all-star. Judah was, how to say it, “a problem.”
This story is hard to read. It includes painful details. You wonder why God didn’t kill everyone involved and start over. Then we come to verse 26. Judah is the first person recorded to have repented. The lineage that would include King David and King Jesus went through a man who was not righteous like Joseph, but one who repented of his great sin. There’s a lesson in there, isn’t there?
We could go on and consider the stories of Rahab and Ruth. And don’t forget “Uriah’s wife.” That whole situation led to two psalms of repentance that excel in their humility. (See Psalms 32 and 51.)
We arrive at verse 16 and see “Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.” Joseph is best known because of who he married and who her son was. In an age where men and women wrestle to determine who is more important, a man or a woman, please note that Joseph did not seem to mind playing second fiddle to Mary.
In an age where people argue over issues of submission, Joseph did what Paul would later direct when he wrote, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” (Ephesians 5:21).
Joseph is a model for all men just as Mary is a model for all women. Come to think of it, the reverse is also true. They both lived lives worthy of emulation. They submitted themselves to God and his plan and purpose for their lives. Together, they made the perfect parents to bring Jesus into the world and up to maturity so that he could fulfill his mission.
The most impressive thing about Joseph is what he did not say. In fact, search the Christmas narratives in Matthew and Luke and you will never find a word recorded as coming from his lips. Instead, you will observe how he hears from God and immediately does what God says. This is the secret of life, isn’t it?
Our lives are about as good as the degree to which we hear God and obey him. The most important thing we can ever learn and practice is hearing God and obeying him immediately. This requires trusting God’s heart and depending on God’s hand. Since he has never failed in this regard and will not start with you, give it a try.
The most important thing we can teach our children and everyone we influence is how to hear and obey God. You and I could never conceive of one single action superior to what God asks us to do. We could never create one single result to improve our lot more than simple faith and immediate obedience provide.
Maybe when we all get to heaven we can interview Joseph. Maybe then we will hear him talk about this secret to his success. Or maybe he will smile a knowing smile and incline a nod toward Mary. Maybe he will smile that smile and nod toward Jesus. And maybe, when we turn back to him, he will have slipped away again unnoticed.
Joseph’s life was dedicated to providing for and protecting Mary and Jesus and the children who came along later. He always did the right next thing no matter how hard. It always produced the right result.
Maybe, men, there is a connection between how much we say and how well we serve God’s purpose in our generation. Let us listen for God’s voice more and more. Let us do what he says immediately. Let us keep our peace by submitting all authority in our lives to God, deferring to the needs of our families, and passing along the lifestyle of hearing and obeying God.
I will live like Joseph.
Our Father, empower me to live like Joseph. I want to know your will and your ways. I want to obey you without reservation. I want my life to say more than my words could ever declare. I want to slip away and be forgotten. Should anyone remember me a hundred years from now, may it be the memory of one who heard you clearly and did what you said. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”