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Saturday, December 24, 2016

December 24: Joseph and His Dreams

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. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 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. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

    and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. - Matthew 1:18-25, ESV
Joseph and His Dreams
Do not think for one moment that it is a mere coincidence that his name was Joseph and he dreamed. Scripture tells us the stories of two men named Joseph, both of whom were dreamers: Joseph the son of Jacob in the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, and Joseph the son of Jacob in the first book of the New Testament, Matthew. 
The Joseph we read about in Genesis was shown his future in two dreams. These dreams brought him the jealous wrath of his brothers who sold him into slavery in Egypt. But Joseph's journey to Egypt ended up saving the lives of God's chosen family, paving the way for a later mighty deliverance under the blood of the Passover Lamb.
St. Joseph's dream, by Philippe de Champaigne
Joseph, husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus, also had two dreams before he, too, ended up in Egypt. The first dream told him to take Mary as his wife, and the second dream (Matt. 2:13) warned him to flee to Egypt. This Joseph was also driven to Egypt by jealous wrath, only he voluntarily fled the rage of King Herod. His flight to Egypt also was used by God to preseve the life of God's chosen family. His flight also paved the way for a later mighty deliverance under the blood of the true Passover Lamb.  
These two Josephs are further distinguished as two of the most morally upright and honorable men in all of Scripture. The Bible is very clear-eyed and sometinmes brutally honest about men's faults: Noah was a drunk, Abraham was a liar, Moses a murderer, David an adulterer, Peter a denier, Paul a persecuter. These two Josephs are among a very small handful of men whose tales are told without any stain or shadow on their characters. We're specifically told of Mary's husband that he was "a just man," one who was determined to treat her with gentleness, despite what appeared to be her unfaithfulness to him.
What I have always admired most about Joseph was how quickly obedient he was to the dreams God sent him. The angel Gabriel came to Zechariah and Mary in person, but the angel who spoke to Joseph only came in dreams. I could imagine a hundred excuses I could offer for not wanting to obey a dream, especially when I was being asked to do such difficult things: marry a woman who is already pregnant with someone else's child, fly away to Egypt and leave behind family and friends, and then go back to Nazareth to live among the gossips. Joseph's instructions were never easy, but his obedience was always quick and complete. 
Heavenly Father, may we, by Your grace, have the heart of Joseph. May we be just and gentle. May we be obedient and faithful. May we be willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of Your name and Your Son. In His name we pray, Amen.        
"Joseph's Song" by Michel Card - 

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