The Angel Visits JosephSeries: The Visitation. James Dewhurst December 13, 2020
The Angel Visits Joseph
In our pursuit to please the masses the only one we need to please is the Messiah.
25 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe. (ESV)
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (ESV)
1 Thessalonians 2:4
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (ESV)
Aesop – “If you try to please all, you will please none.”
Someone else said – “As long as you care about what other people think, you will be their prisoner.”(The greatest prison most people live in is the fear of what others think!)
Lacrea the great Christian rapper – “If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.”
A fired up preacher from Pataskala said – “Someone else’s thoughts and opinions should never have the power to change your beliefs and convictions.”
So, today, as we take a look at the final angelic visitation leading up to Christ’s birth, we find a man named Joseph facing a fork in the road:
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (ESV)
This final angelic visitation was slightly different than the first two in a couple of ways. This time the angel who visited Jospeh is called the angel of the Lord, instead of being identified as Gabriel. Whoever the “angel of the Lord” is, it’s important to note that this angel appeared to Abraham and announced he would be the father of many nations, to Jacob when he wrestled with God, to Moses in the burning bush, and now appears to Jospeh, the potential earthly father of Jesus. Another important detail, is that this time the angel appeared to Joseph in his sleep, and Gabriel visited the others awake.
Joseph found himself in quite a dilemma. He was engaged to be married, but then discovered that his fiancé, Mary, was already pregnant and he was not the Father!
Joseph was a hard working and very well respected man in the community. If he stays with Mary, he would be assumed the unwed father and then chastised by the elders of the city, fined 100 shekels of silver, and lose his good reputation. Joseph was stuck!
In v.19, the Bible tells us that Joseph was making plans to divorce her quietly, since engagements were binding. This was a brilliant plan! If Jospeh cuts it off now, he will save himself from public shame, and will also Mary from a public Jewish divorce trial and from a certain adultery conviction, which would have been punishable by stoning!
But the angel of the Lord told him in his sleep to take Mary home, Baby and All!
Joseph had to choose between listening to God’s voice or bowing to societies pressure!
The question was – Will you marry Mary if it means you have to divorce the world?
We cannot stay married to Christ and the world at the same rime. We have to choose!
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (ESV)
There are things that God is calling us to stand for, that are going to bring public ridicule!
In a season where the world is celebrating the most famous unplanned pregnancy in history, Christians must unapologetically stand up for the sanctity of human life!
In a cultural season where the world says that all religions lead us to the same God, Christians must unapologetically declare Jesus is the only way, only truth and only life.
In a moral season where the world ignores science and declares human sexuality as a personal choice, the Bible declares in Gen 5:2, “Male and female he created them”
In a lawless season where the world attacks the boundaries of the Bible, Christians must declare that God’s Word is the unchanging perfect standard for human morality!
How can God’s people change the world, if the world keeps changing God’s people?
Boundaries – The biblical definition for the word boundaries is a property line, a field, or a piece of ground that belongs to a person. Boundaries in the natural define our territory and what we are responsible for. Each of us individually also have spiritual and personal boundaries that serve as property lines. Boundaries protect us physically, emotionally and spiritually. They define who we are and what we are not! The word “no” is a very healthy boundary. ‘No” helps to keep what nurtures us in and what can harm us out. We have been given by God, complete control over what we own, but when we allow ourselves to be controlled by others thoughts, opinions, pressures and reactions, we surrender our boundaries and lose control of our property. Instead of living biblically and abundantly, we start living reactionary because we’ve surrendered our authority!
2 for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. (ESV)
We’ve been reading this story for thousands of years because Mary held heavens hand!
God, it’s bigger than me… I am completely overwhelmed… It’s not going to be easy… I have no idea how to raise God… I haven’t even had health class yet!!!
Mary’s story is a wake up call! (Heaven is shouting for us to wake up and step up!)
Are we partnering with God’s grace to do something impossible or are we just existing?
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (ESV)
2 boundaries that Jospeh decided in this angelic story:
1. The Boundary of Self-Sacrifice!
(The proof of our desire is always in our pursuit!)
The entire trajectory of Jospeh’s life changed the moment he and Mary were visited by angels. Normal for Jospeh was gone forever! But the remarkable thing about Joseph is that he was willing to sacrifice all of the expectations of a life he thought he and Mary we’re going to have, and he immediately shifted to his surprise role of raising God’s son.
There are so many sons and daughters of God that need to be nurtured, but there are so few fathers and mothers willing to sacrifice their comforts and expectations to do it!
Jospeh decided that there was nothing he wouldn’t willingly sacrifice for His God!
Adult Jesus said in: Matthew 10:39 “and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Since Jospeh withheld nothing from God, he was given the privilege to hold God!
2. The Boundary of Continual Obedience!
(The greatest test of faith is obedience!)
Not one, not two, but three different times the angel appeared to Jospeh in dreams and gave him specific instructions about Jesus. The first was to take Mary home and raise Jesus as his son. The second was to flee Bethlehem and escape to Egypt before Herod could kill Jesus. The third dream was for Jospeh to return back to Israel after Herod had died. What if Joseph had not obeyed? What if he refused? What if he had taken charge and done it his way? The survival of the Savior depended on Jospeh’s obedience!!!
Do you realize that your response to God’s directions determines if they survive?
The Lord told Samuel in: 1 Samuel 15:22 “To obey is better than sacrifice…”
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