“So Joseph got up, took the child and His mother and entered the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea... ”
“So he (Joseph) got up, took the child and His mother, and entered the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the region of Galilee. Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that He will be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:21-23 (HCSB)
My father is retired from the oil business. One of the drawbacks of my dad’s job was that we moved around a lot. By the time I entered 6th grade, I had lived in 5 different cities.
I believe the Lord used those re-location experiences to prepare me to serve Him as an adult. Every time we moved meant a whole new set of experiences. I often draw from those experiences whenever I communicate the gospel, as I’m doing right now!
My dad once told me that if he could do it all over again, he would have just stayed in one town and raised his family in a more “sheltered” environment. My dad’s retrospective desire (to have stayed in one town) may have eliminated certain emotional and logistic conflicts, but it would not have prepared me for God’s unique call on my life.
I believe Joseph planned to take young Jesus straight from Egypt to Jerusalem. We can assume this because the Scripture says Joseph was headed straight for Judea. Jerusalem is in Judea, and the angel told Joseph & Mary that Jesus was the Messiah.
Any Jew who knew Israel’s Biblical history (especially a righteous Judean like Joseph) would know that all the great Jewish kings were enthroned in Jerusalem. Little did Joseph know, as Jesus would later say, “It is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem!” In Joseph, we find a similar decision-making dilemma akin to his errant (yet well-intended) plans to divorce Mary quietly. The Lord needed to intervene.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but it's end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12 (ESV)
Trying to do something on God’s behalf that He never called you to do is a recipe for disillusionment. No Divine calling means no Divine equipping to complete the task. Had Joseph done what seemed right to him and decided to settle in Jerusalem, Jesus would never have survived all the vicious, exploitative opportunistic self-seekers swarming around the Temple. Can you imagine someone boasting, “I taught the Messiah all He knows; buy my book!”? Did God have a plan for Jesus in Jerusalem? Yes. Did Joseph understand from the Scriptures that Jesus’ ministry would eventually wind up in Jerusalem? Yes. Did Joseph comprehend all that needed to happen between Jesus’ boyhood and His manhood? Nope.
We may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds it. God doesn’t usually unfold His plans to us, and often His wisdom is understood in hindsight. He simply commands us to trust Him, seek Him and His direction daily, and follow His leading, just as we are seeking Him today.
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©Steve Wiggins 2021