Lesson 3 -- first quarter 2004
December 21, 2003
© Copyright 2003, Christian Light Publications
What if he had refused?
Imagine Joseph going to bed with angry, depressed thoughts. I can hardly believe that woman would do such a thing! She said she loved me. She promised to be mine and mine alone. She actually became my betrothed. She still is, in fact. Our marriage is...was?...not that far away anymore. I believed her; I trusted her. People are already starting to look at me out of the corner of their eyes. They whisper. Conversations quit when I arrive. Some people smirk mockingly, others grin lewdly, and others actually smile sadly and sympathetically. It's all very maddening. It's driving me crazy. I've got to get rid of her...my own Mary. I must get out of this betrothal.
Joseph finally falls into fitful sleep...has a dream...and then awakens. What if he had chosen a response different from his actual choice? Wow! The churnings of my mind certainly didn't settle down once I finally got to sleep. Talk about an outlandish and unreal dream. Mary still a virgin in her condition? What a laugh! Am I supposed to be so gullible as to accept that idea...and still go ahead and marry her? No, I must protect and maintain my reputation now and my chances later for marriage to a more noble and true woman. The clincher has to be the wild notion that the child in her is God's Son, the Messiah Himself. Absolutely not! I will not change the course of my life over an unfaithful woman and a weird dream. Besides, even if that improbable dream were somehow true and God truly did speak to me in it, I just cannot go through with His directives. He's asking for more than I can possibly give.
Did Joseph really have the option to respond that way? Sure he did! What if he had opted for that choice? OK, so getting involved in a discussion of hypotheticals isn't productive most of the time, especially when it's about something historical. But my question still stands because there is a simple yet significant point to be made.
Had Joseph refused to accept and implement God's message, it seems to me that God would have suffered a serious lapse in judgment. God knew Joseph. So He chose Joseph above all other men in Israel. Or do you think He chose Mary only and Joseph was an accidental choice by virtue of being betrothed to Mary? Of course not. A wrong choice by Joseph would have revealed a wrong choice by God. But God was as right in His confidence in Joseph as He was in His confidence in Job. And both of these men -- by God's grace and power -- were faithful just as God knew they would be.
Now for the simple yet significant point: God makes no mistakes -- ever -- even when He calls you to do something you don't wish to do or something you're sure you can't do. Will you trust Him as Joseph did, choosing obedience no matter the personal cost? Will God's confidence in you be vindicated as it was in Job and Joseph?
Don't say "No" to God! Don't hold back! Obey fully, no matter what.
Obviously you aren't Mary; neither was Job and neither was Joseph. But her words of surrender to the will of God could have been theirs just as easily as they were hers. "Be it unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38). Let them be yours as well.
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