“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” (Mt. 2:20)
Three times God speaks to Joseph through an angel in a dream. The first time was to tell him to take Mary as his wife after he had decided to divorce her quietly because she was pregnant. The second time was to flea to Egypt to escape Herod’s efforts to kill the child Jesus. The third time was to return to Israel when it was safe.
The Bible does not reveal many details, so we don’t know the time periods involved or all of the circumstances. Whatever the time, perhaps years, Joseph’s response to the sequence of events exhibited great trust and confidence in God. He accepts an explanation for Mary’s pregnancy that defies all human experience. Then he takes his wife and new baby to a foreign land in reliance on a warning in a dream.
We see the faithfulness of God to Joseph in his multiple words, signs and the evolving circumstances. The angel’s message about Mary giving birth to a son, who was to be a “Savior” and “The Messiah,” was subsequently confirmed by some unknown shepherds who report that angels told them the same thing. (Luke 2:11)
By the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognizes Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:43) Further confirmation comes through the words of Simeon and Anna during the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:2-38) Then God directs three kingly men from foreign lands to find Jesus, Mary and Joseph and give them gifts that probably sustained them in their flight to Egypt. (Matthew 2:1-12)
Finally, Joseph receives one more message that it is now safe for them to return to Israel. We see trust and faithfulness in Joseph in his willingness to act on the words he had received and in his submission to the circumstances.
What is our level of trust and confidence in God when he gives us that gentle nudge or whispers in our ear? Do we hear him when he speaks through others? Do we see his faithfulness and desire for us in the circumstances of our lives?
Lord, let me trust in you like Joseph.