The Prayers of Christmas: Joseph's Prayer Life
20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
For our Wednesday evenings leading up to Christmas, we will look at [The Prayers of Christmas]. Tonight, we will focus on [Joseph’s Prayer Life].
When it comes to Christmas, some people will do whatever possible to get just the right gift. I remember as a child that my mom, her sister, and sometimes grandma, would get up at three in the morning and wait in line for hours on Black Friday.
They would tackle our lists and do whatever was necessary to get there early, get through the store quick, and check out as fast as possible.
I was never allowed to go with mom since she was buying gifts for me. But I got to go with my aunt from my dad’s side a couple of times.
One year, my cousin wanted a camera from Circuit City. My aunt told me what it looked like and where it was. She said the door opened and before she knew it, I had run through the crowd, got the camera, and was in line.
It was a lot of fun, but everything changed in 2008 when a temporary worker was stampeded to death at a Walmart. They began to change the way they promoted their deals so that people could get what they needed—safely.
God never had to read the Black Friday sale adds, He never stampeded over anyone, and He never waited in long lines to get the best deals possible.
God did do whatever was necessary to give the perfect gift of salvation to us.
To do so, He used the prayers of His people. Last week we focused on Mary being a woman of prayer. Because of her prayer life, she found favor with God.
Tonight, I want us to look at Joseph and see that through His prayer life, God gave supernatural dreams to help answer Joseph’s prayers.
I have three points, [His First Dream], [His Second Dream], and [His Third Dream].
1. His First Dream
1. His First Dream
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
Joseph had a major decision to make. Mary celebrated the good news, but had to explain it to Joseph. Naturally, he had a lot of questions.
First, we read that he was betrothed to Mary. Betrothal was different than engagement. People often get engaged and then end the engagement.
When betrothal happened, the two families would negotiate the proposed union and the the man’s family would pay a price to the bride’s family.
Then an official announcement was made and the betrothal was binding, so much that they could only cancel it through death or divorce.
After the official announcement, the couple would live separately with their parents for a year. This was to show that the bride was indeed pure.
The only way to cancel the betrothal was if the future bride was found pregnant during the year that her and her future husband lived a part.
Joseph was in a predicament. He was a just man, meaning that he was righteous and Godly.
He did not want to humiliate Mary, but he wanted to do the right thing.
We know the whole story. We can look back on Mary and Joseph and know what happened, but that was not the case of Joseph.
Let’s put ourselves in his shoes for a moment. This was very difficult for him. He truly loved Mary, and he did not know what to do.
20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
Notice the word thought. He thought about all of this. No doubt he prayed about his decision, which led God to answer him in a dream.
Throughout Scripture, dreams are a means God uses to share a message to His people. This time, the dream came with an angel who told Joseph all that would happen through this baby.
Joseph shows us what to do when God speaks— he obeyed.
When we pray and God answers, we have to obey what He says.
His first dream came after he prayed about a major decision concerning his future.
2. His Second Dream
2. His Second Dream
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,
The first few years of Jesus life was a whirlwind for Mary and Joseph.
When He was born, the shepherds came and celebrated the birth of the Baby. Though all of our nativity scenes have shepherds on one side and wise men on the other, the wise men actually came when Jesus was two or three years old.
That was amazing for the new parents. These wise men, kings from the east, did whatever was necessary to meet the King of the Jews.
They blessed Him with gifts. Imagine the conversations in their home when these wise men left. No doubt these gifts they left, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Never before had they recieved such expensive gifts. It might have been difficult to go to sleep that night, overwhelmed by what they recieved and what just happened.
But when he fell asleep, he had another dream. This time the angel instructed him to take his family to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the Child.
Notice what he did— he got up and took Jesus and Mary that night and left for Egypt.
What led to such quick obedience?
The first time God spoke to him in a dream, he listened and God blessed him with a child.
Now, God speaks in a dream, he listens, trusting that God will protect him, his wife, and his child.
The closer we get to God the more we begin to trust Him when He speaks to us.
We do not read of him doubting, only trusting the Lord.
When God does whatever possible to speak to us and answer our prayers, we need to obey and listen to Him.
3. His Third and Fourth Dream
3. His Third and Fourth Dream
19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Imagine how hard it was to live in Egypt. For the first period of Jesus’s life they raised Him:
in a foreign place
without any close relatives nearby
learning a new culture
This had to have been difficult for his family. Perhaps there were times Joseph prayed for his family, just wanting to go home. Finally, the answer came and God instructed him in another dream, you can go home, those who want to kill your son have themselves died.
Notice, he immediately got up and obeyed God’s word.
But as they traveled home, he heard disturbing news about a new leader in Judea who was as ruthless as the last one. Once again, he had to have prayed and asked God for help.
For the fourth time in his life we read that God spoke in another dream and this time he told him to avoid Jude and go to Galilee where he would raise his family in Nazareth.
In these two dreams, we notice first that God showed Joseph His love and care for his new family.
Second we see that God was also concerned about what concerned Joseph, so He showed him what to do.
God pays attention to us and will do what is necessary to help and guide us.
Isn’t it amazing what great lengths God went through to help Mary and Joseph. He spoke to Joseph in four dreams all to come down and answer his prayers and desires.
But there is something I noticed in each of these dreams, every time God answered, it was so that it might fulfill prophecy.
When Jospeh considered divorcing Mary:
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
When Joseph went to Egypt:
15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
When Joseph returned from Egypt and ended up in Nazareth:
23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
What should this tell us?
God knows every detail of our lives. If we will pray, He will give us wisdom and direction.
Nothing catches God by surprise. When:
Mary was pregnant, God already had it planned
Herod wanted to kill Jesus, God already knew what to do
Ready to leave Egypt, God had the perfect place for them to go
In our lives, when we consistently pray and spend time with the Lord, He will unveil His plans to us. When He speaks, we need to obey and follow Him.
But He will do whatever is necessary to help, lead, direct, and guide us!