13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” n
16 When Herod
realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
The Return to Nazareth
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 2:13–23). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Father knows best. That’s what they say anyway. If you were around your Father over the last week chances are that you were given some advice. It’s what Dad’s do. That and bad jokes are built into the fabric of being a dad. We can’t help it, Father’s grandfathers. and for that thought, mothers and grandmothers too can’t help but advise their children or grandchildren. We just want to help. Help them avoid some of the pitfalls that we have fallen into, or have seen other people fall into so we guide the next generation in the way that we would do it. When kids are young it's easy. You just say, Wash your hands. or Brush your teeth! Don’t eat that! In those cases, you know you are right. When kids are young you get to teach them these clear things like hygiene and health and manners. As children get older the advice gets harder. The topics become more difficult. The level of sure-ness that you have lessens a little. The level of confidence of your children rises so you have to be a little more subtle. a little more subtle, you can do what you want but this is what I would do… but then when you get advice from grandparents it usually goes back to being a matter of fact, you should. But the fact is that younger people can learn from the more experienced. Life is easier when we learn from those who have been through it before, who have a perspective from a higher viewpoint called age that they can see from.
One of the great things about being a child of God is the fact that you get wisdom from someone older than everything in the universe. From someone who knows everything past present and future. And the great thing about your heavenly Father is that he, as Pastor Pieper talked about in the Wednesday night advent services, he is accessible. Anytime you want You can read his book which contains a bottomless supply of knowledge and understanding. If we just listen to him.
In our lesson today from Matthew we see a great father named Joseph who listens to his heavenly father. And the things that Joseph is asked to do are not small chores, “Hey Joseph, pull weeds in the front yard.” God comes to Joseph and tells him in the middle of the night to move to Egypt. There are very few things that are more of a pain in the neck to do than to move. But God tells Joseph in the middle of the night to move to Egypt. A few hundred miles with his young family, not a moving company, no big U-Haul truck, just move.
And Joseph does, he gets up and he moves to Egypt just like that. Joseph has a good track record though. We read last week how the Lord told him to take Mary home to be his wife when he found out that she was having the son of God as a child. And the next thing we hear from the Bible is, he did that. The angel in the same dream told Joseph, name the son of God Jesus, and then we read right after it, and Joseph named him Jesus. God appears to Joseph in a dream and says to him, move to Egypt and Joseph wakes up and the Bible says that he moved to Egypt.
God says and Joseph just does it. He doesn’t say, but God! …. I am renting a nice house here in Bethlehem and the wise men just gave me this box of Gold and Mary has made some friends here so this is the place that we should stay. He just does exactly what the Lord tells him to do.
Compare that the Zechariah, the father of John the baptist. He is a priest. Zechariah was a spiritual leader of God’s chosen people who was offering a sacrifice on the holiest holiday of the year. You have an old man that is a priest who has been married for years compared with a young engaged carpenter from a little town. and when Zechariah was told what God was going to do, that God was going to give a child to him and his wife Elizabeth, his response was but how can this be? Even Mary wondered when God said she was going to have a child, she said but how can this be since I am a virgin. Joseph just a simple carpenter hears what God tells him to do and he does it, no questions asked. Mary Mary. Alright. Name him Jesus. Sure God if you say so. Move to Egypt. Gotcha. Head back to Nazareth, anything you say.
The faith that Joseph has is great, It is similar to Abraham isn’t it? The father of the Jewish people, The one to whom the promise was given after the wold was repopulated after the flood. God told him, Abraham I want you to go to a place I will show you. And what does Abraham do, he goes. Abraham for al he did throughout his life is considered a great hero of faith because he faithfully obeyed the commands of his heavenly Father. But so does Joseph. Now the point of this isn’t to talk about how great of a Father Joseph is just so he gets remembered. The point of all of this is to show what makes us great. It is just listening to what our heavenly Father tells us to do.
All we have to do is listen.
Over the last few days, we had a virus go through our family. Everyone got sick. One after another. It just lasted for a day but being sick isn’t any fun. And when my 18-month-old daughter Alice wasn’t feeling well all she wanted to do was be held by me on my shoulder. Wherever I went she went. She just wanted to rest close to me until she felt better. I am not happy that she was sick, but I have to be honest that I loved holding her when she wanted to be held by me. The next day she was feeling better and she was running all over the place, it was a quick hug and then she was back to doing whatever she wanted to be doing.
In our passage from Galatians this morning we heard about How God has adopted you and me as children of God so that we are heirs of everlasting life. The apostle Paul talks about that. Isaiah talked about the same thing in the Old Testament hundreds of years earlier when he says.
8 He said, “Surely they are my people,
children who will be true to me”;
and so he became their Savior.
9 In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them and carried them
all the days of old.
Our God is a father to us. When we are distressed, he is distressed. And when his children thought the whole old Testament were in distress, when they were in pain, in trouble, like a sick little child he picked them up and he carried them back to safety... Across the red sea back to the promised land. Out of Babylon back home. He carries us.
That’s your Father, too. He is just a father with a strict set of rules. He is ready to pick you old hold you close and carry you. Why do we run away from him? Why do we not listen to the advice that he gives us all of the time? Why do we neglect to study his word for knowledge that is going to keep us safe and on the right track? It’s not very smart. For as much talk as there is about children not listening to their parents, or the world going on this downhill slide, no matter how old we get there is still more for us to learn from our God. If we ever start to think that we know enough about our God and we don’t need to hear much else, chances are that we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Look at the blessings that Joseph receives. He gets to be married to a woman who God chose to be the Mother of God, and if he would have listened to his instincts he would have missed out on that. He saves his family by taking off for Egypt in the middle of the night, which he would have had no idea was going to happen if he didn’t listen to what the Lord told him to do. His family grew up and God’s prophecies were fulfilled because Joseph obeyed the word of the Lord. He listened to his heavenly Father and everything turned out the way alright.
As we get older its easy for us to think that we are the ones who are supposed to give all of the advice. That we are the authorities that everyone else should look up to. But don’t forget that you always have a Father to rely on. To listen to, to learn from to help lead and guide you through this world to his eternal home for you in heaven. He is your Father, He knows best for you. Amen.