Is my obedience immediate, even at the sake of being an inconvenient time?
Do I relate more to the wise men or to Herod?
When grief is overwhelming where do I turn? Do I see the Lord’s arms open ready to love me and ministry to me even in the painful hours?
Am I will to lose comforts for Christ?
Why do I go to those I turn to? Do I look past their outward man?
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Imagine being an Israelite back then. The scriptures all clearly say that Messiah will be a Nazarene, from Bethlehem, would be called out of Egypt, but those things together did not make much sense, until the story unfolded. I think that can be the same way in our lives. Sometimes God will give us glimpses into the future, and (at least from my experience) they do not make much sense from where we are at the time. The temptation would be to then not trust that it was from God or that it was for you. If that is you today I encourage you to hold them with an open hand up to God and watch as He unfolds His plan. I say open hand because we do not want to be holding on so tightly that we have a preconceived notion of how that thing will unfold and be blinded to anything else. I speak from experience. I have heard things from the Lord, saw how i thought they should go down and got my panties in a bunch, so to speak, when they did not go my way.
Back to the point of the section of scripture we are in. When God told Joseph these things He did not do so saying and you must to fulfill scripture. No, Matthew puts that in there for your sakes, to help us see how the hand of God was working in the fulfillment of all these prophecies concerning the Messiah.
Again notice Joseph’s obedience. It was immediate. Remember that in Joseph’s day they did not have street lights lining every street. No, they made this journey at night with just the moon and stars and potentially torches to light their way. He woke from this dream and took immediate action, moving in the night. If you are like me being awoken early from sleep is not the thing you really want, and when it happens you try and fall back to sleep as soon as possible. I personally wonder how much I have missed of what the Spirit is trying to speak to my heart by fighting to get that good night’s sleep. This is an area I am seeking to grow in this year, being more willing to stop and listen to the Lord’s prompting, especially when it seems to be an inconvenience.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
The wise men coming to worship were exceedingly joyful and Herod is now exceedingly angry. I want to be one that is filled with exceeding Joy. Herod’s angry at not finding this one child leads him to put out a decree that kills all males under the age of 2 in a region, he thought, big enough to hopefully kill this one child. Anger can cause us to do some pretty irrational and terrifying things. Anger is a sin that should be dealt with swiftly. Even if we think we are just carrying it and it’s not like we are going out killing all these babies because of it. Let me ask you, have you done some murdering with your tongue out of anger? I know I have in the past, and I pray that I do not again. When angry we need to bring our hearts before the Lord and allow Him to deal with our hearts. Maybe your anger is “justified”. Even still vengeance belongs to the Lord and we want to be careful not to injury with our tongues and be ones in need of seeking forgiveness.
17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
There are many cases where the consequence of living in a sinful world breaks my heart. Herod with his sinful angry just murdered all those precious innocent children. There are few things that tear my heart more than innocents being taken. I could not imagine to be even an unmarried childless women in those times. My heart just breaks for those moms, and for any mom who has had their child taken from them through deaths cruel hands. The grief that was felt in this community was without comfort because of the sheer magnitude of the the trauma.
19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Here again we have another region that our Savior was prophesied to be from and we see the fulfillment of it. Joseph was yet again obedient in going back. His fear that he did have was used by God to bring about another fulfillment of prophecy.
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
That message still stands to this day. The Lord is coming back again and He is going to call His church home to Himself. We still need to repent, turn, change our minds, agree with God and go His way. Do we live like the Kingdom of heaven is at hand? Or do we think we have time left to live how we want to. John was out in the wilderness delivering this message, to anyone willing to come and listen. Those of us who are saved and know Jesus and we speaking of this truth so that others can come and see Him? Speak to all who will listen, speak of our sinful nature and thus need of a Savior and tell them of Jesus urging them to turn and walk with Him.
3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’ ”
John the Baptist was the one prophesied to be the forerunner for the Messiah. He speaks of repentance and of preparing the way for the Lord. Think about it, if you know that some high ranking official is coming to your town and the path in which they will take to get there you are going to go out and make that path just as perfect as you can get it. John is saying that the Lord is coming, let’s start doing some things to agree with Him. Make the path straight for Him. There is work that only the Holy Spirit can do and point out, but there are things we know we do wrong, at least that is true of me. John is saying repent of them, start straightening out the path. He is the voice calling in the wilderness. The wilderness is barren, empty, or overgrown and unruly. We can relate to one part of that in our time before the Lord. Now that we know Him are we one, like John, being a voice in someone else’s wilderness being a voice pointing to the Lord. That is my prayer. I never want someone to hear me speak or read what I have written, or just interact with me and think wow she’s got it going on. Sure there are parts of my heart that want that, but those parts I try and always keep in check with the Lord. What my heart wants is for people to see, hear, interact with me and walk away knowing Jesus just a little bit better, loving Him just a little bit more. I want to be one that is remember for simply affecting people’s hearts toward Christ Jesus.
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
That does not sound comfortable nor appetizing to me. Sometimes what the Lord calls us to my not be the most comfortable of choices. He was bold and he was out there. Would you allow the comfort, or lack thereof, be a determining factor in what we agreed to do with and for the Lord? John’s choice of food, though limited, was nutritious and sustaining. Most importantly it was readily available to him in the wilderness. He was not traveling into town to spend money in the market on food, he used what was available to him and was satisfied with it. Those of us who are American Christians really need to take a hard look at that question, are there certain comforts of living that we expect and are unwilling to do without, even at the risk of not following God? One simple aspect of this that will get most of us is what are we doing with our money. Are we spending money on American “necessities” (ei. Going out to eat, make-up, all the sports/ movie channel extras) that God is asking us to repurpose for things pertaining to eternal life, things that will affect where other’s spend eternity? What about our time? Most of us spend 40 hrs a week at work, an hour or 2 a week at church/ church functions. What about the rest of our time? Are we glued to the TV, Phone, or anything else that is a time sucker?
I say these things and ask these things not to try and condemn anyone. These are simply the things that God has put on my heart and that He is speaking to me about personally. I am not a scholar with degrees and philosophy fueling my writings. What you see is simply an outflow of time I have spent with the Lord and of the things He has been showing and teaching me. Some are things that I look back on as scripture reminds me of past things He has taught me. Other things, like this little section here are from God is speaking to my heart now. When I bring up hard questions it is because the Lord has first brought them up in my life.
5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins
Everyone was coming out to meet him, repenting, being baptized and confessing their sins. Guys, we just covered what he looked like and eat. They were not coming out for dinner with him, or because of his fancy clothes and high standing in the community. No they were coming to him because of his message, because he pointed them to the coming Messiah, and because He spoke the truth. Let that be why people come to us.