Joseph didn’t deserve to be in prison. He had been unjustly charged by Potiphar’s wife for something he hadn’t done… yet, there he was. And as Christians today, we know we too don’t have immunity against worldly injustice. But we do have a Sovereign Lord who is faithful. For it tells us in Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s way is pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” So, we may live in a world filled with unfairness and wrong…and we may have to endure being unfairly persecuted…but praise God, we do have a Savior who makes even our enemies befriend us.
The brothers of Joseph had acted very abusively towards him… none of them denying the brutality he had been put through. So now that their father, Jacob, was dead, the brothers were fearing the worst…that Joseph would repay them for what they rightfully deserved. And Joseph could of easily put them to shame for all the wrongs they had done to him…but he chose not to. To take the moral high road, to not repay evil with evil, to bless rather than curse can be a true testament of your faith. For it shows to everyone that you’re a victor and not a victim.
Joseph was a quiet man…a devout Jew whose trade was as a carpenter and handyman in town. Joseph was also deeply in love with Mary, his betrothed, and looked forward to the day they would marry and start building a life together. But the rug was pulled out from underneath him when he learned Mary was pregnant…and not by him. So for moment, put yourself in his shoes. What thoughts and emotions would go through your mind and heart? Feelings of hurt, and betrayal would be surging through your being. Your mind would be racing with questions of “How could you do this to me? I love you.” Angry emotions would want to demand explanations from Mary for her apparent unfaithfulness. But even though Joseph had every right to make a public spectacle of Mary, (Deuteronomy 24:1) he chose to send her away quietly and spare her the indignities. But then God showed up…and all of Joseph’s questions were answered. For suddenly, it wasn’t just about him and his feelings…but about the eternal plan of the world receiving its Messiah.
This Scripture specifically deals with immorality and adultery…but in the bigger picture, it deals with sin against God. Have you ever considered that every time you sin – you’re defying God to His face? For every time you allow evil to reign in your life, you’re in direct opposition to God and rebelling against Him. Joseph understood that giving into a temptation was a sin…but that sin isn’t self contained…for no matter how hidden we think it is, others will be affected by our lack of judgement. And ultimately, Joseph knew he would be sinning against God.
Caesar Augustus had given a command that the whole Roman Empire should have an official count of the population. So we see Joseph and Mary headed to Bethlehem…Joseph’s home town to be recorded. This earthly father of Jesus was a kind carpenter by trade…a conscientious Jew who adhered to the Law…but who had to totally trust God when he found out Mary was pregnant. This quiet man had to work through hurt, confusion, and wounded feelings to rely solely on the Lord’s promise of the coming Messiah.
Joseph had the right to give Mary a certificate of divorce if he found anything indecent about her. But the angel again appeared to bring revelation to Joseph’s confused and betrayed mind before he did anything rash. During this “God dream”, the angel gave Joseph details, even down to the name he must call the baby, thus quelling and vanishing all Joseph’s doubts and fears concerning his Mary.