Tuesday, 1 December 2015

As We Contemplate the True Meaning of Christmas . . .




After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said (v.13).

I wonder what went through Joseph’s mind as the shepherds returned to their flocks. In the stillness of that night I imagine Jesus sleeping—snuggled in Mary’s arms. But did Joseph remain awake, turning events over in his mind? He had seen angelic visitations, heard the voice of God, and witnessed the miracle of a virgin birth. Then came another dream.

Protect the promise. 

Screaming and wailing rang out in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16), but Joseph’s son—more accurately, God’s Son—would not be numbered among the dead. Scripture had foretold that the Messiah would prevail: “His government and its peace will never end” (Isaiah 9:7). But like every promise, the space between its utterance and fulfillment still had to be realized. To Joseph, the message was clear: “Flee, for danger is near” (Matthew 2:13).

Though he could have only imagined the magnitude of Jesus’ life, Joseph understood he had been entrusted with a promise from God (1:20-23). Far from romantic idealism and uninterrupted moments of inspiration, Joseph’s responsibility to protect the Promise in his care was fraught with danger, questions, and uncertainties.

Why then, when we’ve been given a promise from the Lord, do we think the path should be absent of any struggle? Ultimately, the fulfillment of God’s covenant to His people would come through His hand: “Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19). But we also have a part to play—just as Joseph did.

As we persevere by God’s power and provision, may we guard the precious treasure of His truth (2 Timothy 1:14) and remain steadfast. For God will fulfill His promises! (Isaiah 46:11). —Regina Franklin

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