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Summary: What characteristics did Joseph have that allowed God to entrust him with the upbringing of the Incarnate Son of God and what is the significance of his four dreams?

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KB-GD 06-01-08

Joseph – a righteous man who obeyed God

Story: It was the night before Christmas – and the local primary school were putting on the Nativity Play.

Everyone was excited and happy - except one little boy who had wanted to play the part of Joseph - but had, instead, been given the role of playing the Inn Keeper

Wanting to get his own back, he decided to re-write the nativity story – without telling anyone

So when Joseph and Mary knocked at the door of the Inn, he threw the door open wide and said ” Come on in – we have plenty of room”

Joseph however looked behind the open door and then, looking the Inn Keeper in the eye said:

” No wife of mine is going to stay in a dump like that. We’d rather take the stable”

And the story returned to its traditional pattern

Joseph, Mary’s husband is one of the forgotten heroes of the Nativity story

He is described in Mt 1 as a “righteous man” (Mt 1:19)

1. Background

We don’t know a lot about him from Scripture.

Of his background all we know was that Joseph came form the town of Bethlehem – and was from the lineage of David –significant because in Jewish law this would make Jesus too legally from the lineage of David.

Joseph was a carpenter. We know this because Jesus was referred to as the carpenter’s son (Mt 13:55) .

And he probably taught Jesus his trade - as fathers in those days used to teach their sons their trade – and of course we know Jesus was a carpenter too

Story: When Maddy and I were in Israel, our guide told us that archeologists had uncovered the ruins of Saphoris (modern Tzippori in Israel), a thriving city near Nazareth.

It is believed that Joseph spent much time there working as a carpenter probably with his son, Jesus.

2. Dreams

The one thing we know about Joseph that was special was that he had four dreams in which God spoke to him.

1.When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him that it was OK to marry Mary –as she had not been sleeping around (Mt 1.20-21)

2.When God warned him to take Mary and the child Jesus and flee to Egypt (Mt 2:13) and

3.When an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream telling him to return to Israel, following the death of Herod(Mt 2:19-20)

4.When on his way back from Egypt, Joseph was concerned about going to Israel (because Archelaus had taken over power on the death of Herod), God spoke to Joseph in a dream guiding Joseph to move with the family to Galilee. (Mt 2:22-23)

Besides Joseph and Daniel in the Old Testament, I know of no one else having so many dreams recorded in Scripture.

So what can new deduce from the recorded life of Joseph

1. God uses ordinary people like you and me

Joseph wasn’t one of the “Good and Great” of this world.

He was a humble man.

He was not some great intellectual thinker or theologian

Yet God decided to use this humble man to shape the life of the incarnate Son of God.

What an honour and what a responsibility

2. God honours those to listen and obey

Joseph must have had a deep faith – and been a keen disciple of God. Perhaps that is why he is described as a “righteous man” one who was keen to keep God’s law.


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