Day 11: Following God’s Plan

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.”

The safest place to be is always in the center of God’s will. Nothing ever takes God by surprise.

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 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.”

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. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. -Psalm 27:11

“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.”

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 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.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 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: “He will be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:13-22)

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” -Lamentations 3:21-24

It’s not too difficult to discern one of the reasons why Joseph was picked to be the earthly father of our Lord Jesus: obedience. In the second of his four dreams, Joseph was told to get up and flee to Egypt because Jesus’ life was in danger. Joseph was neither aware of the specific danger nor how to avert it, and yet God directs him in precisely what to do. God even supplied the means by way of the gifts of the Magi. Everything was covered.

The safest place to be is always in the center of God’s will. Nothing ever takes God by surprise. To Joseph’s credit, when the angel of the Lord speaks to him in dreams, we discover him moving and moving quickly. So often we rebel against obedience by ignoring, delaying, questioning, dismissing, or fleeing from God’s directives. Seriously, when are we going to learn that God always has our best interest at heart! His way is often not the easiest way, but it is always the best way. It really boils down to trust.

The journey for Joseph and his young family to Egypt would be both inconvenient and perilous, yet Joseph remained steadfast to the heavenly vision he had received. He made no objection nor did he dawdle, but immediately got up and set out during the night making quick work of obedience.

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
-Deuteronomy 32:4

Bit by bit the story continues to unfold for Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. Certainly God, who makes known the end from the beginning, could have given Joseph all of His instructions at once. Yet, as He most often chooses to do, God makes His way known gradually–revealing His mind and way in increments. He does this in order for us to be reminded of His faithfulness in leading and also to teach us to continue to listen for His still small voice–waiting upon His instructions and trusting in His ways as best for our lives.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
-Psalm 27:13-14

God always goes before us. Waiting upon His leading teaches us a myriad of things not the least of which is patience and obedience. It never comes easy to wait–it is far easier to take matters in our own hands and run ahead. But we get usually find ourselves in trouble when we pursue the devices of our own imaginations.

God sent Joseph and his young family into Egypt and then he brought them out. We can be sure there is always purpose in His plans. He is leading even when we cannot readily discern it.

“We should follow Christ in simplicity and faith, because the paths in which He leads us all end in glory and immortality. It is true they may not be smooth paths–they may be covered with sharp flinty trials, but they lead to the ‘city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God … All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant. Let’s put full trust in our Leader, since we know that, come prosperity or adversity, sickness or health, popularity or contempt, His purpose shall be worked out, and that purpose shall be pure, unmingled good to every heir of mercy … His dear love will make us far more blessed than those who sit at home and warm their hands at the world’s fire.” -Charles Spurgeon

Take It to Heart

“God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“In our walk with God we are told explicitly by Christ Himself that it would be His Spirit who would be sent to guide us and to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). This same gracious Spirit takes the truth of God, the Word of God, and makes it plain to our hearts and minds and spiritual understanding. It is He who gently, tenderly, but persistently says to us, ‘This is the way–walk in it.’ And as we comply and cooperate with His gentle promptings a sense of safety, comfort and well-being envelops us.” (Phillip Keller)