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Last Minute Change of Plan

Matthew 2:22-23
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, that he would be called a Nazarene.

God had told Joseph to move Jesus and Mary out of exile, in Egypt, and back into Israel. Herod, the murderous king, was dead. However, it seems that on the journey, Joseph heard that Archelaus (Herod's fourth son) was the new ruler in Judea and therefore had jurisdiction over the area around Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Joseph was afraid that Jesus might again be in danger if they returned there. Once again God intervened in a dream and instructed him to go to his (and Mary's) parents' town of Nazareth (Luke 1:26-27; 2:4).

They had been away from home a long time, and often on the move. During Mary's pregnancy, she spent three months with her cousin Elizabeth in the hills near Jerusalem, before going back home to Nazareth (Luke 1:56), and then back to Bethlehem with Joseph (Luke 2:4-5). After the wise men visited Jesus, the family were sent off to Egypt. But then, just as they were looking forward to the prospect of a settled life near Joseph's relatives in Judea, peril loomed again. His fear was appropriate and God confirmed that they should take the coast road up to Nazareth in the northern province of Galilee. It was apparently yet another last minute change of plan by God.

But God knew what He was doing all the time; He also knew that Joseph and Mary could only handle so much change at any one time. So He released His plan in pieces which were small enough for them to take action, and not be totally overwhelmed. What seems to us like a last minute change of plan is actually God's most direct route to get us in the right place at the right time. When there is real danger (instead of the shadows which precipitate most of our fears), then God will confirm that He has a safe plan. But none of this takes Him by surprise. So let's get used to God's ways. When our circumstances change, it is simply His way of keeping us on His route; so that we can be useful to His kingdom and blessed by His presence.

God of eternity. I am glad that You know everything and that every change in my circumstances is merely Your way of keeping me on Your track. Forgive me when I fear needlessly or become agitated when You change my plans. Help me to see that You are working out everything for good, and keeping me on the best possible route to become an effective disciple of Jesus Christ. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams