Tuesday- Week 4
Return to Nazareth
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, 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."
The Youth of Jesus (1886-94)
by James Tissot
What does the angel tell Joseph to do?
[Return to Israel.]
Why is it is now safe to return to Israel?
[Those who seek Him are now dead. Scholars believe the ‘they’ refers to not only Herod, but his wicked son Antipater as well. As a matter of fact, five days before his own death, Herod ordered the execution of Antipater. Ironically, Antipater had been instrumental in getting his father to kill his other two brothers to secure his succession to the throne (Josephus’ Antiquities XVI. 11; XVII. 19).]
There are few mentions of Joseph’s actions and character in the Bible, despite his pivotal role in Jesus’ life and eternal plan. In Matthew 1:19 we are told that he is a ‘just man,’ and therefore seeks to divorce Mary quietly, not wanting to shame her. In Matthew 1:24 he is obedient to the angel’s command to take her to wife. In Luke 2:4-5, we see that he takes his wife with him to Bethlehem. In Matthew 2:13, we see him acting immediately, upon the words of an angel to flee with his family to the safety of Egypt. Then, in today’s passage we see him being obedient to protect the Saviour and his mother again. Many years later, he and Mary worriedly seek the twelve year old boy Jesus who had remained behind in Jerusalem (Luke 2:43-49). We are never even told when or how Joseph dies, we ascertain by his absence at the cross, that he had gone on to glory by the time of Jesus' crucifixion.
What do these few glimpses tell you about the type of man Joseph was?
[Answers vary. He was just, compassionate (didn’t want to shame Mary). Humble, obedient to God’s will and direction, protective, caring and a man of integrity.]
Why does Joseph take his family to Galilee?
[Bethlehem is in Judea (the southern province of Israel), and Archelaus, Herod’s wicked son now rules that region. Archelaus once put to death 3000 people during Passover in the temple and city. It is presumed that Joseph’s concern upon hearing that Archelaus was now in power, was confirmed by God in a dream. He is then directed to reside in the northern region of Israel, in Galilee.]
What is the significance of Jesus being from Nazareth?
[According to this passage, to fulfill prophecy. However, there is no obvious prophecy that Jesus was to be a Nazarene. Therefore, some scholars believe his reference to the prophets (plural, not singular) has to do with their collective Messianic predictions that Jesus would be considered of little worth. Anyone from Nazareth was not held in high esteem (John 1:46). Thus, the prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel and Jeremiah combined, point to One who would be despised. They also point to the fact that He would be a Nazarene* (for Netzer means ‘branch’)- which Jesus is described as by the prophets: Isaiah 4:2, 11:1; 53: Jeremiah 23:1, 5; Zechariah 3:8, 6:12 .]
*Not to be confused with a Nazirite--who took a special vow (Numbers 6:1-3).
Jesus was not a Nazirite. Jesus' first recorded miracle was to turn water into wine. He likely drank at the wedding, as was the custom for wedding attendees. Whether He chose to drink or not, He would not have performed this miracle if drinking were not permissible for His followers.
For Further Discussion
Since Jesus was not a Nazirite, did He drink wine?
[In Luke 7:33-35 Jesus contrasts John the Baptist's Nazirite habits with His own, stating: "For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”[emphasis added]. This indicates that while John abstained from drinking wine, He did not. Of course Jesus never sinned, so He could not have ever been drunk as His accusers had suggested.]
There are a lot of examples of poor fathering in the Bible: Lot (Genesis 19:30-38), Eli (1 Samuel 3:13), Samuel (1 Samuel 8:1-5) and David (2 Samuel 13), to name only a few. However, the best example of a blameless father in all of scripture seems to be a stepfather.
If you are a father or stepfather, what kind of father do you purpose to be? What kind of father are you in actuality? Would your children/step-children agree with your conclusion?
[In My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers states, "Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket-- to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served? Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?"
This is the type of life Joseph lived. He was willing to be insignificant for Christ's sake. He was willing to spend his life in the shadow of his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.]
Why do you think that so many men find it difficult to be good fathers?
[Answers may vary.]
Close in Prayer
Pray that you would be the kind of person that Oswald Chambers describes- one willing to be of no consequence in the eyes of the world, in order that you may serve Him better.
Make a Joyful Sound!
Choose a song from Advent Songs for Week 4 or choose a family favorite.