At the beginning of this series (which was the post before this one titled “Matthew 1:1-17”), I revealed that I was going to do an in-depth study on the book of the Bible called Matthew. I also let you know that I was using the Inductive Study Method.
In this section, I noticed that the main attention to detail seemed to be more on Joseph. Joseph was the man to whom Mary was betrothed, which is not like an engagement of today. In the King James version of this scripture, the word is “espousal”, and it was the legal part of a marriage. It could not be broken off except by a bill of divorce. All legal documents were signed and contracts completed at this time. All contracts specified a time between the espousal and actual marriage relationship.
Joseph was described as a “just man”, which is only used 10 times in the Bible. Noah was described as a “just man” in Genesis 6:9. Then in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, it is used 5 more times. In Proverbs 9:9, it says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” Then in Proverbs 20:7, it reads, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” In Proverbs 24:16, we see, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” Ecclesiastes 7:15 reads, “All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in wickedness.” And then Ecclesiastes 7:20 reads, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not,” and that was until Jesus came. Then, in addition to Joseph, it is used to describe John the Baptist (Mark 6:20), Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10:22), and Jesus (Matthew 27:19).
Joseph is a just man walking in integrity. His children are blessed after him. Knowing what he was going to face even though he did the right thing, he still chose to follow God’s instructions. At first he sought to privately write a bill of divorce for Mary because to “make a public example” means to stone her to death for harlotry since she was pregnant and it was not by her espoused. Since he was staying in the commitment, he was going to get a lot of people looking down on him for consummating before marriage. All contracts of espousal specified a time between the espousal and actual marriage relationship. Even though she was still a virgin, had not been with anyone else including Joseph, she could not prove anything. So the judgments of others could not be refuted by evidence. It was only their testimony that could be brought up.
When the angel of the Lord came to him in a dream or vision, he was called, “Joseph, son of David.” In my mind, I think of the angel, that is traditionally thought to have been Gabriel, telling Joseph to remember who he is. He is of the line of royalty, the lineage of Judah, the family that the Messiah is to come from. “Fear not” to do what God has planned. Gabriel tells Joseph of the plans of salvation for the world. He lets him know that he is going to be a part of something extraordinary and wonderful. Joseph need not fear the unknown or the people that will look down on him or slander his reputation. He can trust that God’s plan. There is no need to make a scene and call others out on things when God tells you “continue on with the grand plan of salvation.”
God brought about an amazing plan that all involved had a specific role to play. Joseph got to be an intimate part of Jesus’ life. He got to see Him grow. He got to teach Him how to walk, talk, and be a man. He was able to hold Him and hug Him being his earthly father. He got to talk to Him about scripture. I’m sure that when Jesus was young, He talked about scripture and ended up teaching Joseph things that others would not have been able to know. I believe that Joseph went to be with the Lord knowing so much more about scripture and the kingdom of God than most anyone else save the disciples. When he thought he was teaching Jesus the scriptures, I believe he was actually learning more than he was teaching. If Jesus was teaching people at the synagogue at aged 12, surely he was in conversation with Him at home so much earlier.
Because he chose to follow God’s command, he was able to be so much more than a simple carpenter. He helped fulfill what was spoken of by Isaiah, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14).
In verse 24 of the first chapter, we see that Joseph immediately made up his mind when he sat up. He didn’t take time to think about what he should do or weigh his options thinking about plan A, plan B, or plan C. No. He trusted God in that moment, and he did just as he was commanded. He took unto him his wife, which is a Hebrew idiom for cohabitation and fatherhood. He became Mary’s husband and Jesus’ father.
The lesson that I learn from this passage is to seek God’s direction and instruction and trust in His plan even if it seems like it will be difficult and challenging. Trust that God is placing you in a spot that you are filling a need for someone. I understand that there are many different approaches I can take with some things, but the specific details and pathway that God chooses for me to go is much more important than for me to “be comfortable” with what I want to do. The faith that it took for Joseph to continue in his commitment to marry Mary and to listen to the men of his family ridicule him or advise him in different ways is so very inspiring. I am grateful that he had the faith to follow God’s plan.
I hope that my faith grows more and more, and that I can, like Joseph, do as God commands straightaway rather than balking at making the decisions or performing the actions required of me. I hope that I am up for the call when it happens. I’ve already climbed an incredibly big and treacherous metaphorical mountain in my life, and the mountains preceding that one weren’t near as big. But the cancer I have debilitated me so much. However, remaining focused on God kept me pushing further and further toward Him. Know that God is with us and trust in His plan.
Gotta go fill up my cup….