Some things are clear in the Bible—don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, and don’t use the Lord’s name in vain. God wants us to take care of the widows and orphans. Honoring our mothers and fathers is important to Him. And God’s people are His ambassadors here on earth sent to share the Gospel.
But what about those times when the lines are blurred and the path is unclear? When we aren’t sure if God wants us to take another job or stay in our current role? When we question how much screen time our kids should have? When we think about the ways we spend our money or debating which investments are worthwhile?
Joseph and Mary were walking along a path no one had walked before. Mary became pregnant as a virgin. They carried the immense privilege of raising the Son of God. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream—not once, not twice, but three times in this passage. And they left everything and fled to a different country because the king was hotly pursuing this newborn King of the Jews.
Uncharted waters. Unknown territory. Yet we see Mary and Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord commanded” and were known for their faithful obedience. When the path was clear, they followed God wholeheartedly. When the path was unclear, they kept putting one foot in front of the other and trusted God would either keep making a way or point them in another direction.
And that’s exactly what happened. When the road was clear which way to go, they followed their conviction. And when the future was ambiguous, God sent an angel to clear things up.
We may not have an angel visit us and make our next step clear as day. But the principle remains—as God’s people, we must stay faithful to His explicit commands. And when things come up that are unclear and make us unsure, our next step should always be prayer. God is not a God of confusion, but of peace—and He wants to help and lead us in the way everlasting. When we submit our paths to Him, He promises to make them straight.
- What about your future path seems unclear?
- Spend some time praying about it and submitting it to the God who cares for you: “Thank you, Lord, for your promise to guide me. You say your Holy Spirit will lead me into all truth, so I’m trusting in you to help me make this decision. I’ll wait patiently until your hand moves.”
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Visitors from the East
1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
The Escape to Egypt
13 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. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”
16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. 17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A cry was heard in Ramah—
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead.”
The Return to Nazareth
19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”
21 So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. 22 But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. 23 So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
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