December 18, 1999
Here we have recorded the birth
of the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Matthew prepares to go into great detail of this birth, much more than would be for a normal birth. The reason? This birth, according to the prophecy of Isa. 7:14, had to be a virgin birth. Therefore, both Matthew and Luke go into great detail about this birth.
The custom under the OT law was for an extended period of time between the agreement to marry and the actual coming together. This was much more than an engagement as we know it today. Under the law, found in Deuteronomy 22:22-27, sexual relations with another man or woman during this time was considered adultery with the death penalty against it.
Joseph could have dealt with Mary as though her pregnancy was the result of an immoral act which placed her under the death penalty according to Deut. 22:22-27. But he chose not to. He took for granted that she had been forced in the field where she had no one to come to her aid. He was going to quietly put her away.
The Spirit of God calls Joseph a just man. He was a man who desired justice. Justice could have made a public example of Mary. Justice could have demanded the death penalty, as the Pharisees did with the woman they caught in adultery. But notice that Joseph understood the law of Moses. He remembered the spirit of the law. He loved Mary, and gave to her the benefit of the doubt. He then dealt with this difficult situation in the mildest way possible, without compromising the law.
He was Christ-like, never having met Christ. This is what the Lord did, He enforced the law, but always in the genuine spirit of the law. He always exhibited the proper spirit of the law as the Father meant for it to be. The spirit that loves our neighbor as ourselves. This spirit of love does not compromise God's requirements, but it handles them with meekness, humility and tenderness.
Mary's husband, Joseph, loved her. He had to take action, but he did it in the mildest manner permitted by the word of God. He was going to deal with this the same way he wanted someone else to deal with him. Might we learn to do the same. This goes right along with Paul's instruction in Gal. 6.
Joseph thought on these things.. How long, we have no idea. Maybe for several weeks. But this would require some stern action and he wasn't going to rush into it. No doubt he felt he was between a rock and a hard place. He wanted to do what was right, yet he loved Mary. He was probably searching for some leading from the Lord on this.
Note how we need to learn to think on things before we take action or make rash decisions, especially when our actions effect others.
Obviously, Joseph wanted to do the right thing, so the angel of the Lord appeared unto him.
Note that if we really want to do the right thing, the Lord will lead us in the right area.
The Lord gave Joseph a fear not. Why was he afraid? Was he afraid of violating the principles of God's word? Regardless, the Lord has a fear not for all His people, one for every situation in which they find themselves.
In the midst of Joseph's distressing thoughts of how to handle this situation, the Lord reminded him he was in the line of David -- in the midst of our distress, we must remember we are of the line of David through Christ our Lord.
Here is the first naming of the King, Jesus. The work of the king is identified, save his people from their sins. He saves from the power of sin over us and from the punishment of sin. He is still saving people from their sins. Have we told others this?
Vv. 22, 23
Isaiah 7:14 is quoted here:
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
That passage makes a good message, but I will not pursue it today other than to say that the prophecy was given in the time of great national turmoil and loss of all hope in the future.
V. 23. As we face, even today, the darkness and blackness of the world around us, we have the same sign as Ahaz had. We have the sign of the virgin born Saviour, who's birth we calibrate at this time of the year.
Who would have thought that this prophecy of EMMANUEL, God with us, would be the Lord Jesus Christ, born in a stable of the most humble of parents?
No doubt, when we see Christ, we will understand a lot more of Scripture than we do today. We will also probable find that a lot more has been fulfilled than we can imagine.
In his dilemma, Joseph is reminded of Scripture.
Vv. 24, 25.
Joseph was not disobedient to that heavenly vision. He did not delay, but as soon as he received his direction, he moved.
The indication is that he was woke out of his sleep at night and got right up and went to get his wife, Mary.
Now, let me draw your attention to v. 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
The three words here that should catch our attention are GOD WITH US.
First, God is the one who was in the beginning, before all things. He is the one who created all things in heaven, in earth and under the earth.
Second, God created man in his own image, male and female created he them.
Third, God planed out all of history before history started.
Fourth, this verst tells us that Christ is named Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Christ is God, the God who created all things:
Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him : 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Fifth, 16 times in Scripture, GOD is called SAVIOUR. Let me just refer to a few of the passages:
2 Samuel 22:3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. Psalms 106:21 They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; Isaiah 43:3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Isaiah 45:15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Hosea 13:4 Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me. Luke 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; 1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Titus 1:3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; Titus 2:10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Jude 1:25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
I cannot find the words to describe the wonderful fact of what Christians celebrate on December 25.How can one describe or explain the fact that God the creator became a man so he could save his people. And the means for their salvation was his life as a poverty stricken man who died the most horriable death imagineable in his day.What words can we use to explain the fact that the God of creation is the means of salvation of his fallen creatures?
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