"All of this..."

As I was reading yesterday, I was struck by the the phrase "All of this..." we find in verse 22 of Matthew 1.  I have read that verse many times in my life and have never stopped to consider their implication.  Of course we know the first chapter of Matthew 1 chronicles for us the genealogy of Christ through Joseph and also gives us details about how Joseph learned she was pregnant with the Messiah.  The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to write those words in verse 22 because He wanted the world to know everything that is about to follow in the story of Jesus in this gospel (and all the gospels) is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.  Matthew1:22-23 is a grand declaration of the sovereignty of God at work to save the world!

But yesterday when I was reading, I realized "All of this..." wasn't just referring to the details regarding Mary.  "All of this..." is inclusive of all the details which means even the details regarding Joseph.  For Mary, she had no knowledge of being pregnant until after her angelic visitation (Luke 1:29-31).  Not so with Joseph.  Matthew 1 is very clear.  Joseph already had knowledge of Mary's pregnancy prior to his angelic visitation.  In fact, based on his intentions given to us in Matthew 1:19 he assumed that Mary had disgraced herself and their engagement by betraying her vow to Joseph by becoming sexually involved with another man.  Why is this important?  Because God intentionally allowed Joseph to feel betrayed before He intervened.  God could have easily said to Gabriel, "While you are there telling Mary she will become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit make sure you tell Joseph too.  We don't want him to feel betrayed...he should know."  Did Gabriel forget?  Not likely!  Matthew 1 says "All of this..." meaning the timing of Joseph's notification was by God's design.

Why would God do this?  I believe God was preparing Joseph to be the kind of father to Jesus and husband to Mary that would be demanded of a man who had been given such a grand destiny.  Can you imagine the kind of character required of a man to take on such a responsibility?  Our character is not formed in the ease of life.  Our character is formed when tested, when tried.  The stress of life accelerates the growth of virtues in us.  God wanted Joseph to face the appearance of betrayal, the sting of public humiliation, and the weight of shame.  God was preparing Joseph for his purpose in life, to be the earthly father of Jesus and the husband of our Savior's blessed mother.  God had Joseph in a season of virtue growing pains.

Are you in an "All of this..." season as you start this new year?  Are you facing hardship that feels overwhelming?  Do you feel as though you are suffering in innocence, meaning your hardship is not the consequence of your own foolishness?  My encouragement to you is find patience.  Psalm 27:13-14 might be your verses for this season!  Trust in God's goodness and His timing to reveal that goodness to you!  He is making you ready!  You have a divine destiny!  You are chosen!  You are special!  I guarantee that your pain now is far less than what it could be if He allowed your purpose to approach you only to find you unprepared.  God knows what you need to be victorious in this life.  He shapes us so that we can serve Him... "All of this..."

Pastor Fred