Expectation, Confusion and Decisions
Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. She had told him what God's angel had revealed to her, and that the Holy Spirit had enabled a baby to be alive in her womb, even though she was a virgin! It was too big an idea for Joseph to believe and he clearly did not. The only assumption he could make was that Mary was either lying or deluded, because another man must have been involved; and Mary must have been carrying an illegitimate child.
Joseph's conscience was to uphold God’s law: although he was only betrothed and not married, the law ( Deuteronomy 22:23-27) said that if the girl was in a town both she and the man should be stoned to death (she ought to have screamed for help if she was being raped). But if she was in the country the girl should not be killed (nobody might hear her shouting). Joseph wanted to assume this was a countryside incident. He did not want to shame Mary or his own family's honour – so decided to divorce her quietly. It was the best he could think of by himself. But Matthew wanted his readers to know right at the beginning of the story that Mary was right, and this baby was God’s plan, His Messiah.
There are times when God's plan seems unbelievable. It is not like anything we have previously experienced, and we cannot understand what is happening. We even hatch plans to solve the problem ourselves. The thing we expect and want does not happen; and something we could not imagine takes its place. Confusion is everywhere in our mind. Our conscience is troubled because we want to do the very best for God, and the other people involved. There was no way that Joseph could understand what to do for the best, until God revealed the truth to Him. It is the same with us: so wait for the Lord to reveal His mind when you need to make decisions in a confusing situation. Proverbs 20:22 says: “Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong! Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.”
© Dr Paul Adams