But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. – Matt. 1:20 NIV
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There is no general consensus on the age of Joseph when Mary the mother of Jesus was betrothed to him as some say he was 90 years whilst others claim he was 95years but he was definitely not a young man just as his status as one who was never married is never in doubt. If Joseph was to be a woman, he would be considered a virgin. Whatever may be his reason for this his act of celibacy, to eventually agree that a young lady of between the age of 12 and 14 years should be betrothed to him must have taken some convincing. So when before even there was any intimacy, she shows up with the common line of “I missed my period”, one can only imagine the various thoughts that would have run through the mind of Joseph the carpenter. This was a man whom the Bible describes as being faithful to the law ( Matt. 1:19), so he understands the implication of impregnating a lady who is yet to be properly married to him. It was therefore not surprising when he decided to keep a distance from this event that threatens to make nonsense of all his entire years of celibacy and chastity and probably make him go against the law but then he needed to find a nice way of doing this to avoid embarrassment to the young lady. He must have been pondering on all these and thinking out a strategy to approach the issue when the Lord decided to help him resolve his confusion. In the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotion,
- The angel noted that Joseph was afraid and advised him to discount fear. Yes! He was probably afraid of losing all the gains of all the years of maintaining chastity in his approach to life. He was probably afraid of the comments of members of the society who will now make him an object of mockery and see him as a hypocrite all these years. He was probably afraid of the thought of keeping a woman whose pregnancy he cannot defend. There were definitely too many things to be afraid of but he was expected to disregard all those realities by the mere pronouncement he was supposed to have heard in a dream.
- The angel persuaded him to take Mary home as his wife and not as a mere betrothed lady anymore. From being betrothed to being wife, especially after discovering that this wife was likely not that virgin that he probably was looking forward to, after many years of sexual abstinence.
- He should accept responsibility for the pregnancy as it does not matter whether he had carnal knowledge of Mary or not. He was to psyche himself up as the father of the child and position himself as the father at all times even though he knows that he is not. His supposed first child was not his biological child.
- But more importantly, the Holy Spirit was responsible for the pregnancy. How was he going to tell tales like that to people. A story without precedence. It sounded more like a tale by moonlight. Presentation of such would easily be seen as an attempt to cover up the acts of fornication that himself and Mary would be accused of.
It will only take a man of the spirituality of Joseph then, and now, to wake up from that dream and not visit the medical practitioner. It can only be a bad dream or better still visit his spiritual leader for deliverance as he must have thought that his entire thought process has been taken over and now been spiritually manipulated, but that was not to be the case with Joseph as he displayed the depth of his spirituality, both before and after the visit of the angel.
Firstly, no matter what his views of the pregnancy was and no matter how much potential shame it was to bring to him, he was going to act in a manner that was not going to bring shame to Mary – Matt. 1:19. Some other men, out of anger and desperation to justify their human sanctity will not consider the effect of their actions on the image of the woman. Secondly, without argument or any form of noted debate, he accepted the message as genuine and immediately did the needful. In that process, what anyone was going to say did not matter but all that mattered was the Will of God for him, after all there were several other men that He could have used for this immaculate “fatherhood”.
The Christian today needs to understand that
- Once they have taken the step to give their lives to God, they have lost control of how it will be used. Like everything that is given, control and authority over such has already been transferred to the receiver and that applies to a life given to God. It is no longer about what you consider holy but what he wants you to do – Acts 10:9-16.
- Obedience must be total and cannot be based on your understanding or what you agree with. That you do not have a clear understanding of what God is trying to achieve or that what is being suggested runs against your moral principles has no relevance when it comes to God. All you need to be sure of is that the communication is from Him and you are hearing clearly.
- People’s comments or views should not be considered when deciding on what God wants of you. It is better to disappoint men and obey God than the reverse. Like earlier mentioned, all that is important is to be sure that the communication is from the Almighty God and it is clear. God does not think like men so his actions cannot be like that of men. He that will understand God will operate in His Spirit as that is the mind of God – 1Cor. 2:11.
- The spiritual man should never at any point think that he is achieving anything by his/her thoughts alone. Joseph may have thought it was his decision to remain chaste for that long but that could just be God preparing him for that great role of being an earthly father to the saviour of the world or how else will he now explain his accepting to marry after almost a life time of celibacy and why Mary of all women. Coincidence? That is what the unbeliever will say so as to detach the Almighty God from the affairs of men. No! It is not true. God indeed reigns supreme in the affairs of men – Dan. 4:17.
Acceptance of God’s Will by Joseph did not go unrewarded in this realm as he turned out to be the earthly father of the saviour of the world, a position that will remain unique for ever. You will also be honoured by the Almighty God if you yield completely to Him and allow Him to use you for His purpose and not what you think is right. He only knows what is right as He is the only judge of the world. May His Will always reign supreme in our lives in Jesus name. Amen.