In ancient Biblical times, there were 3 stages to a marriage (1). The father would consult his daughter about a suitor who was interested in marriage. If the daughter accepted the proposal, stage one of marriage would be initiated. Then the father and prospective groom would sign a legal contract (ketubah) (1). Once the contract is signed, the couple is considered legally married. Stage two would be the consummation of the marriage, on a day appointed and set by the father and the groom (1). This could happen several years after the ketubah was signed. The third stage of marriage was the celebration (1). Mary was involved in the first stage of marriage and was legally bound to a man named Joseph.
Evidently, Mary agreed to Joseph’s proposal and he signed her father’s legal contract, making them officially married. When Gabriel spoke with Mary, she was in the waiting period and the day of consummation had not yet happen. It was during that time frame when Joseph was told that Mary was pregnant.
Can you imagine Joseph’s reaction? He couldn’t wrap his mind around it. He was not the father of the baby and Mary claimed she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit? He did not want to be involved in this situation. In order to break relationship with her, he would have to break the marriage contract through an official divorce. The text in the NLT is translated that Joseph did not want to disgrace her publicly because he was a good man. The King James described Joseph as ‘righteous’ (2), meaning he observed God’s divine laws. Also, the original language reads ‘he did not want to make an example of her’ (3). In other words, he refused to publicly stone her according to the Law of Moses. Joseph was heartbroken for himself, for Mary, for their lost future, for her family, and for her baby.
God’s Destiny for Joseph
Finally, when Joseph’s mind quieted down while he was asleep, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. What did the angel call him? "Joseph, Son of David!" Yes, Joseph descended from the ancestry of David as recorded in the first chapter of Matthew. But, deeper than that, the angel let Joseph know that it was God’s destiny for him to be the earthly father of the Messiah. Joseph was chosen because he loved God and his life mirrored God’s character.
Joseph accepted God’s destiny for his life. Just read the verses about him and you’ll find that he always obeyed God, followed angelic instructions, and showed Mary the utmost respect and honor. All Joseph wanted to do was marry a nice Jewish girl, live in a great neighborhood, raise a kosher family, afford a yearly vacation, and live comfortably in his twilight years. But, God gave him so much more! God entrusted him with the crucial role of father of His Son and included him in the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.
How successful was Joseph?
When Jesus was twelve years old, His parents lost track of Him. He ended up in the Temple with the priests discussing the Word of God. Relieved to find Him, Jesus made it clear to His parents that He had to go about His Father’s business. Jesus’ transition from earthly father to Heavenly Father was an easy one because Joseph modeled an excellent example.
Also, do you remember the story of the prostitute who was thrown at Jesus’ feet by the Pharisees (John 8)? Do you remember Jesus’ reaction? Sounds a lot like Joseph’s reaction, doesn’t it?
Joseph made the right decision and his example is still here for us to follow today. He accepted God’s destiny for His life and his legacy will continue forever!
1 John 2:17 NLT, 'This world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.'
Father, Thank You for this shining example of Joseph. He was just an ordinary guy, living an ordinary life. Father, I am an ordinary person, living an ordinary life. But, I love You and endeavor to mirror Your character. I want to fulfill Your will for me and I dedicate my life to You. Your plans for me are so much bigger than I could ever imagine. I praise You forever! In Jesus Name, Amen.
I love God.
My character mirror's God's character.
God's plans for me are so much bigger than I could ever imagine.
Commit to God your day to day plans and activities.