Contributed by LUMO project

 The Spirit At Work

Joseph was carrying a weighty responsibility. His God-given assignment was to wed Mary and to take care of her and her child, God’s own son, Jesus. God confirmed this to Joseph through a dream that we read about in Matthew 1. He was told “do not fear” to do these things. The Holy Spirit was at work. God had a plan. Joseph’s authority came from Him and all Joseph had to do was listen and obey.

 Anonymity And Obscurity

At this point in their lives, Joseph, Mary and Jesus were living in Bethlehem, a small, unwalled village just a few miles south of Jerusalem. Herod the Great was ruling. By all accounts, he was a gifted politician and administrator; yet, he was cruel, violent and had paranoid outbursts if anything or anyone threatened his power or position. Up to this point, Joseph’s family was safe because of their anonymity and obscurity.

The Arrival Of The Wisemen

Then, the wise men came for a visit. God guided this group of astronomers in a way that they would understand – through an astronomical phenomenon, a specifically crafted sign that we commonly refer to as a star. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they expected to find answers, but what they encountered was more questions. After speaking both to the king and to the religious leaders, God provided further guidance by supernaturally causing the star to reappear and to lead them to Bethlehem where they finally found the expected Messiah.

The arrival of a great company of foreigners to a town of less than 100 would cause a stir. “Who were they?” “Why were they there?” “What did they want?” It would not have been a quiet event. In a short time, everyone would know. These impressive dignitaries came and bowed down before the young child, Jesus. They named him King, worshipped him, and gave him expensive gifts. He was lauded as the fulfillment of prophecy: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). There was no more anonymity.

The Underlying Fear

Was Joseph absorbed in the excitement of the moment with his gaze fixed firmly on God’s provision or was there an underlying fear even as the wise men worshipped? Was the danger already apparent? Was his responsibility weighing heavily on him? As the wise men departed, was Joseph already contemplating what they should do next? We can only guess what Joseph might have thought or felt, but we can be certain that God knew exactly the state of his heart.

God Had A Plan

God communicated clearly to Joseph through a dream. When the wise men first came asking, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” King Herod was troubled; he felt insecure. However, now, there was real danger. Now, Herod planned a search. Now, Herod wanted nothing more than to kill the child. The threat was imminent, God told Joseph what Herod had purposed in his heart and gave Joseph specific instructions to evade the threat, “escape to Egypt”. Again, the Holy Spirit was at work. God had a plan. Joseph’s authority came from Him and all Joseph had to do was listen and obey.

Glory In Every Step Of The Way

Our God is the Sovereign God (Col. 1:16). To describe Him thus, is to recognize His superlative qualities. He is the supreme authority over all human governance. Herod the Great was not greater than the One True God. Creation itself bows to His will. The star led the wise men directly to where God wanted them to go when He wanted them to go there. His story is THE story. The life He orchestrated for His son fulfilled prophecy and brought glory to His name every step of the way – from infancy, to death, and beyond.

Our God is the Perfect Provider (Mt. 7:11). Joseph did not know Herod’s intention to kill Jesus. God gave him that knowledge. Joseph did not know the best place to flee. God directed him to Egypt. Joseph did not have the means to travel. God gave him the gifts from the wise men. Joseph did not know how long to stay in Egypt. God gave him the assurance of His further direction. God provides through His presence, His power and His people knowledge, direction, means, assurance and so much more employing both ordinary and extraordinary methods at just the right times. 

Our God is Victorious (1 Cor. 15:57). Evil does not surprise Him. Wickedness cannot sneak up on Him. He is acquainted with all of the cruel projects and purposes of the enemies of His church, but they do not have the last word. The cross has always been the goal, the focus, and the means by which God defeats all His enemies. Jesus humbly submitted to His Father’s plan; His suffering, which began in infancy, had a purpose. Jesus glorified the Father by accomplishing the work given to Him to do (Jn 17:1-4).

Isaiah 12:2 “Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”

Father God, Your power and presence are overwhelming. Your greatness and goodness are beyond imagining. The fact that You care for us in our suffering as You cared for Your son is staggering. Give us eyes to see You at work in our lives. Thwart the schemes of the enemy. Give us ears to hear You speak words of comfort and direction. Give us hearts quick to submit and obey. May our actions and reactions bring glory to Your name. May Your Kingdom come; May Your will be done. Amen.

Stacy Frith is a contributive writer