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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

Joseph and the Angel

Advent Day 10

Matthew 1:18-19 (Joseph quietly planed to divorce)

Matthew 1:20-25 ESV

Isaiah 7:14 ESV

Isaiah 7 (Synopsis)  

We know from Matthew 1:18-19 that Joseph decided to quietly divorce Mary and end the betrothal. Joseph did not want Mary to suffer the public shame of having everyone know she committed adultery. At this point Joseph only knew he was not the father of the child Mary carried. He did not know the name of the father of the child.

More than likely Joseph wanted to put Mary away quietly so she would not be shamed and stoned to death.

All of that would have been very difficult for Joseph to handle.

Then we learn in Matthew 1:20-25, “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.”

Centuries later, we often read that passage and we accept it at face value, Every year during Advent we know that an Angel appeared to Mary telling her of the coming child. We also know that an Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him the child Mary carried was conceived of the Holt Spirit.

Easy, right?

Well…I tend to think it may be easy for us to understand because we’ve heard and read the story over and over again.

Because we’ve heard and read about the virgin birth we don’t question the validity of the immaculate conception.

The only way Mary and Joseph could have had prior knowledge of the virgin birth was from hearing the words of the prophets who foretold the event. Mary did not attend school because she was a girl and no girls attended rabbinical school. Still she might have heard about it if it was discussed in her parents’ home growing up. Joseph would have gone to school but at some point he chose to learn a trade. We know that because he was a carpenter.

The point is, the virgin birth was probably not a hot topic for Mary and Joseph at the dinner table when they were growing up.

In Isaiah 7:14 the prophet wrote, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

The text is not clear about the reference to the virgin birth. More than likely, upon hearing the prophecy the hearers assumed the woman was a virgin before the conception of the boy. It doesn’t clearly state that the woman remained a virgin even after the child was born.

The point is that everyone was treading on new new territory. Not only had a virgin birth not happened, it hadn’t even been perceived as a possibility. A virgin bearing a child was not possible.

Even though Isaiah’s prophecy about the child who will come was important, there was a message for Judah and the entire region in Isaiah, Chapter 7.

The verses preceding the prophecy include references to Ahaz, King of Judah being attacked by the Kings of Syria and Israel. God sent Isaiah to tell Ahaz he need not be afraid because they will not succeed in invading Judah. Isaiah advised Ahaz to stand firm in his faith. The Lord spoke to Ahaz telling him there would be a sign that a virgin will give birth to a son and he will be called Immanuel, meaning God With Us.

The verses that follow talk about the child who will come spoke of knowing good from evil and the lands of Syria and Israel will be deserted and the King of Assyria will come and ‘shave’ the land and not much will be left…only curds and honey will remain. The lush vineyards will be briars and thorns where animals will graze.

Isaiah 7 is complex and the prophecies cover a great span of time.

The interesting thing is that nestled in the middle of a lot of information about the region is This wonderful verse about a Virgin who would bear a son. That boy would be called Immanuel.

The Hebrew word used is El.

That’s the word for God…God with us.

In the middle of all the messy politics and ongoing battles and changes in the region, God will send a holy child who will be God WITH us.

Not long after the 1st Century A.D. (Anno Domini or the Year of the Lord) Joseph unknowingly became a major player in history. When he became betrothed to a young maid named Mary who was suddenly with child even though Joseph knew her not.

Just as Joseph was preparing to quietly end the betrothal, an Angel appeared to him and told him to go ahead and marry the young woman he was betrothed to because the child she carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

The Angel basically told Joseph that his betrothed, Mary had never ‘known’ a man.

She had not betrayed Joseph.

She did not commit adultery.

She was simply chosen to carry God…Immanuel to take away the sins of the world.

She was chosen. It was no accident. God saw her heart and decided, ‘Yes, she’s the One. She’ll do just fine.’

Spiritual Practice: Immanuel

Consider God with us. It literally means God with us. Everywhere, all the time.

In God, Deborah


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