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I was reading the book of Matthew this week and came across this peculiar verse:
Matthew 2:21-23 MSG
Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother, and reentered Israel. When he heard, though, that Archelaus had succeeded his father, Herod, as king in Judea, he was afraid to go there. But then Joseph was directed in a dream to go to the hills of Galilee. On arrival, he settled in the village of Nazareth. This move was a fulfillment of the prophetic words, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Joseph, Mary and the young child Jesus were in Egypt escaping King Herod’s decree to kill all children under 2 years old around Bethlehem. After living in exile for years, an angel appeared to Joseph, telling him to go back to Israel – Herod was dead.
But Herod had been succeeded by his son Archelaus and Joseph still feared retribution. And for good reason … Upon returning to Bethlehem, there would be no children of Jesus age left. They’d all been murdered years earlier by Herod. This was more serious than Jesus having no-one to play with … Jesus would have stuck out like a sore thumb, making Him an easy target of conversation that drew the attention of those wanting to kill Jesus.
Then something remarkable happens. God doesn’t chastise Joseph for his fear, He allows for Joseph’s weakness and directs him to the hills of Galilee. But not only does He take Joseph’s weakness into account, God works it into his plan – a plan He established before the world was created – and uses this fear to fulfil a centuries old prophecy.
How amazing is that? God didn’t tell Joseph to suck it up … God worked with the fear that Joseph was experiencing and wove it into the fabric of the history of the Messiah.
Don’t misunderstand, Joseph couldn’t let himself be paralysed by fear. He still had to be obedient to God’s direction and guidance. But the fact that God provided a way through the difficulty in spite of Joseph’s fear encourages us that our fear doesn’t have to be that which defines or limits God. He’s bigger than your fears!
I want to encourage you today … when you start to feel limited by your fears and the feelings of inadequacy that we all face from time to time, remember that God can even use your fears to bring about His eternal purposes. He’s not limited by those things and is patient to work with our infirmities.
Ultimately, the plan of God doesn’t rise and fall on us – rather, He allows us the privilege of being a part of something great and eternal that can’t fail. Great days ahead church.
See you on Sunday
Alex & Sarah