Lesson 3 -- first quarter 2005
December 19, 2004
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications
Probing Your Own Heart
How attached are you to your plans and your reputation?
Could God ask too much of you?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
Joseph was a man of faith.
We have a little review from the previous lesson. Listen: "Then Joseph...did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife" (Matthew 1:24). That action reveals Joseph's faith in God. Though he naturally predated James, I have no problem imagining these words coming from Joseph's mouth: "I will shew thee my faith by my works" (James 2:18).
The just submit to God, His will, and His ways.
Over the years, Joseph no doubt had declared his belief in and love for God. He surely had professed unwavering commitment to the God of Israel, Jehovah Himself. Such belief, love, and commitment produced "a just man" (Matthew 1:19). But was his godliness strong enough to accept the role of father in the life of Someone not his child? Did he love Jehovah enough to accept Him as his own "obviously illegitimate" son? It appears Joseph put up no resistance once he knew the will and plan of God.
The names of the Child reveal His identity.
In His efforts to clearly establish the identity of Mary's firstborn, God chose two names: Jesus ("Jehovah is salvation") and Emmanuel ("God with us"). God Himself "became flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). There is no need for us to waver on or flinch from this reality: Jesus is God!
Questions and Responses
Did it have to be this way, with its personal sacrifice and humiliation?
Yes. For God to fully accomplish His purposes, the coming of His Son had to be precisely this way.
Joseph had to accept it or reject it. He accepted it, knowing he was also accepting public stigma, reproach, and shame of men along with the yet-hidden blessing and approval of God. He had to live with one or both of two charges -- "Fornicator!" or "Fool!" He couldn't protest his innocence in Mary's pregnancy -- who would believe such a fantastic tale? Neither could he explain why he would marry a girl pregnant with another man's child. No, as far as most people were concerned, Joseph was either an immoral young man who had to marry Mary or a fool for marrying a sleaze and a ruin.
When it comes to accepting His plans and purposes, God expects no less from us.
How do the Lord's names reveal His identity?
In Isaiah 43:10 we have this declaration by Jehovah God: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD...that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." Many years later, a Child was born in fulfilment of one of Isaiah's earlier prophecies. Of this Child it was declared, "...That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord...saying, Behold, a virgin...shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel...God with us" (Matthew 1:22). Jesus is God; He is Jehovah!
Jehovah God, Who zealously and jealously guards His name and glory, declared conclusively, "I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour" (Isaiah 43:11). At the inspiration and revelation of God, the Apostle Paul wrote that God has appointed us "to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Before that same Jesus was born, his earthly father received this divine message: "Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is God; He is Jehovah!
Not surprisingly, that fits in so well and so beautifully with something else God inspired Paul to write -- "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11). Oh, remember Jehovah, Who zealously and jealously guards His name and glory? He has something to say on this subject as well: "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow..." (Isaiah 45:23).
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