Joseph's Dream & God's Instructions
Celebrating Christmas is to celebrate Jesus. Christmas isn’t a holiday set aside just for gifts and parties. It’s about Christ the Savior, who is The Gift.
Another Christmas is upon us and the birth of Christ is a familiar story to most. Many have heard and know there was no hospital or private birthing room for Mary. There were no vacancies for Mary and Joseph in a hotel. They were left out in the cold and the Christ-child was born in a barn, with a simple blanket to wrap Him in.
When our Christmas lights went up this year I prayed and asked God to show me something new in the Christmas story. I don’t want Christ’s birth to be so commonplace I fail to see the gift of Christ with fresh eyes.
One passage I’m guilty of skimming pertains to when God spoke to Joseph who was pledged to marry Mary. During my time in prayer I felt this was a section God wanted me to focus on. Every word in the Bible should be given the same attention and this is one part of The Story God opened my eyes to see something new.
Read Matthew 1:18-25 like you’ve never read it before.
Joseph didn’t understand what Mary was talking about when she told him she was pregnant through the Holy Spirit. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, he planned to break off the engagement quietly. Before he could start orchestrating how to deal with the scandalous circumstances, God stepped in by sending an angel to speak to Joseph while he slept.
Through a dream, God provided Joseph with knowledge and instructions pertaining to the birth of Jesus. Whether it’s new to you or not, recognize the critical information Joseph received. This one dream has many elements that can help us learn how to pay attention when God speaks in the night.
Joseph’s dream of revelation, comfort, and instruction:
1. God prepared Joseph by sending an angel to speak to him specifically and personally in a dream.
2. He was comforted by the angel, “do not be afraid.”
3. Given instructions to take Mary as his wife.
4. Informed how Mary became pregnant (conceived by the Holy Spirit).
5. Informed the child would be a boy.
6. The angel told Joseph to name the boy Jesus.
7. Informed that Jesus would save people from their sins.
Joseph woke up, took note, and did as the angel of the Lord instructed him to. Had Joseph dismissed God's message in the night, I wonder how the historical events of Christ's birth would have looked? We don't have to guess because Joseph took his God-dream seriously. He obeyed God’s instructions conveyed to him in a dream.
“When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.” Matthew 1:24-25
These important details in the Bible reinforce the need for us to hear God at all times. It would have been easy for Joseph to think this was “just a dream” and nothing more than his mind sorting through the concerns that plagued him during the day.
There have been many times I’ve had dreams that “appear” to be thoughts or events from the previous day or week. When scenes appear of this nature, they are easy for me to dismiss.
Oftentimes dreams are triggered by the activities in our lives, therefore, it’s easy to think they have no godly purpose. However, it’s from our daily experiences and what’s going on in our lives that God speaks to us in a dream that relates to us personally.
God wants to be part of the details of our day and sometimes what we think is "just a dream," is how God reaches into our lives as individuals. What Joseph was thinking, experiencing, and planning in the days leading up to the dream is what God used for Joseph to make sense of the real-life experiences taking place. God came to Joseph with a personal message and for something more important than himself.
Joseph had no idea what God had planned for him when he began to think through a way to break off the engagement with Mary. I believe Joseph’s faith and belief in God Almighty prepared his heart and spirit to hear God’s voice in the night. If I had to choose, I’d rather hear the voice of God in the night than man’s during the day.
Take time to read the beautiful story of Christ’s birth in Matthew 1 like you’ve never read it before. Don’t wait for a Christmas play or December 25 to read the story of Jesus. Make this story personal to you and expect God to speak to you with the same clarity he did to Joseph.
A side note here. If you aren’t taking time during the day to hear God, start now. We are awake longer than we sleep, therefore, I would suggest you focus first on hearing God during your waking hours. Learn to discern His voice, which will prepare you to hear God with clarity in the night.
I also recommend reading the Biblical account of Christ's birth in different versions of the Bible. It gives us a different perspective and way of seeing this beautiful story. I specifically enjoyed reading it in The Message and PHILLIPS translations. Matthew 1:18, 20, 24
Pay attention to details of what was foretold and how God used dreams for the fulfillment of the prophecy. Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2
How is the story of Jesus’s birth speaking personally to you this year?
Don’t wait until December 25 to share what Christmas is all about. Christmas is more than a one day celebration. It’s the beginning of a Christ-life.
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas as you celebrate Christ-mas.
Baby Jesus Lying in a wood crib. Getty Images: Avalon Studio, #182173554: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/baby-jesus-lying-in-wooden-crib-royalty-free-image/182173554