As we continue in this Advent season, reflecting on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I would like to draw our attention to Matthew 2:19-23 which says: “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.”

At this point, the wise men had come and gone, the prophecy have been fulfilled, and now baby Jesus’ life was in danger. Let’s reflect on the struggles that Joseph must have had in trying to take care of this child.

Let me point out the fact that Joseph was assigned to parent a child that wasn’t his in the first place. As the prophecy stated in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Matthew 1:23 echoes the words of Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Looking at things from Joseph’s perspective, he was given an amazing privilege to be a father of Jesus who was God in the flesh. Joseph was to raise Jesus under direct guidance from God the father.

As you can see in Matthew chapter 19, King Herod wanted to kill Jesus. I would like to draw your attention to three things. The warning, the waiting and the withdrawing.

God warned Joseph of the danger that they where facing with clear instructions to leave Bethlehem and travel to Egypt to seek refuge. While in Egypt God instructed Joseph to wait until further instructions. Joseph was left with no other choice than to wait for God’s direction while living in exile. Matthew 19:2 the Bible tells us that the angel appeared to Joseph informing them of the death of King Herod. In that dream, Joseph was instructed to leave Egypt and start his journey back home. What is interesting is the obedience to God that Joseph displayed by following the instructions specially. Joseph did exactly what God told him to do without any hesitation even though he didn’t know what the next step would be. He took a risk in following God despite the fact that Jesus wasn’t his biological child.

There has been many times when I have received a warning from God, but I failed to follow. Every day when we drive around we see warning signs. Signs that caution us of speed limits. Traffic lights that give us warning to go, slow down, or stop. The check engine light in a car will come on warning that a service check is needed. Ignoring these warnings could put you in danger or result in negative consequences. These same warnings and consequences apply to our relationship with God, when we fail to follow his instructions.

Another thing we struggle with in our society is patience—the ability to wait. Our culture has conditioned us to want things to happen immediately. It does require faith in God to develop a great deal of patience. Sometimes fear and the lack of trust can cause us to remain in the place while the instruction was to withdraw from that place. We have to be willing to go when God says go.

During this Advent season let’s focus on drawing close to God, learning to obey His warnings, having patience toward people and circumstances that are out of our control, and trusting God’s commands to move when he says move. If God could trust Joseph with Himself and believed that Joseph would carry out the mission He had for him, God in his faithfulness and justice has a great deal of trust in you and I to carry out the mission that he has already purposed for our lives. God bless.

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Erick Kalenga is pastor of His Village church in Culpeper.

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