Trust and Obey?


"The essential thing in heaven and on earth is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction. There thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Suppose you’re a young man engaged to your high school sweetheart. The two of you wear your purity rings proudly, and have never even been tempted to become too intimate with each other. You have vowed to save yourselves until marriage. This is certainly not easy, but you both want to do the right thing. You are both Christians and highly regarded in your local church and youth group. Suddenly one day she comes to you and informs you that she is pregnant. She swears she’s not been with another man.

What do you do?

Interestingly, the Bible offers us some advice.

In Matthew 1.18-25 we read of a young man named Joseph who finds himself in just such a predicament.

So, what does he do?

Matthew tells us that he tried to divorce her quietly. Once a couple was “betrothed”, they were all but officially married. A divorce (or a “putting away”) was the only logical course of action.. Infidelity had obviously occurred, and Joseph was not only responsible, but required by Roman law to “divorce” her in the case of adultery. On the other hand, it could have been assumed that Joseph had impregnated her, implying that the couple had engaged in premarital sex, and this would have been particularly shameful. Abstinence prior to marriage was expected (some scholars believe that betrothed couples were never allowed to be alone together prior to the wedding day). Thus, Joseph faced both betrayal and shame, and would have been quite justified in divorcing her.

According to the text, though, after Joseph considered this, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel goes on to explain that she has been impregnated by the Holy Spirit and that the child she is carrying is the long awaited Messiah of Israel.

That’s some dream.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never had an angel appear to me in a dream. I wish I could say that I have; but I haven’t. And based upon the lack of personal testimony, Facebook status updates, tweets and blog posts to such occurrences, I’m guessing that angels aren’t appearing to too many other folks in dreams either.

I wonder if God still speaks to people in their dreams. I don’t remember my dreams that often, but when I do, they are so weird that I can’t imagine God being involved in them at all, much less trying to speak to me through them.

In any event, this is how God spoke to Joseph according to Matthew.

Matthew takes two verses to remind us that this whole thing is a fulfillment of ancient prophecy, and then these words,

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (v. 24)

No questions asked. No wondering. No attempts to dismiss the dream like Ebenezer Scrooge by blaming it on an undigested piece of beef.

Just obedience.

Apparently, Joseph had no doubt that the message he had received in his dream was directly from God. There does not seem to be any sense that he spent any time mulling this over, praying about it, or talking to trusted friends in an attempt to get their advice on what to do: he just did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do.

Questions to ponder:

1. How does God speak to you when it comes to important decisions?

2. What makes you certain that what you are hearing is truly from God?

3. Are you willing to obey that voice no matter what the cost?

I’m interested to hear from you.

Comments

  1. Purity rings are a great way to remind yourself and others that you wish to stay pure; however, it is not always easy.

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  2. I hear from God; I hear his voice, sometimes in dreams and sometimes in open visions. I write the dreams down for they usually are symbolic: "write the vision for it shall not arry" one of my favorite versus in Habakkah. My open visions are things to come literally(just like Ayeisha Woods song), and his voice is different depending on the circumstance. Sometimes soft as a prompting and other times loud and clear more like a warning. It is the peace that surrounds me when/if I question "God is that you" then I know it is him. For only the evil one has confusion when the trap is being set, so I know when it is God by the peaceful feeling I get. I have learned to hear his voice and see his warnings for my family and me. Thank you for your openess on the blog. Blessings, Anne

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  3. PS...I have had to make many choices lately and I trust God and his prompting and things work out for the good even when I misunderstood, because God knows my heart and if I acted with the belief it was from Him, He works it out, but yet I also learned from it. Now if I do it when i know it is wrong, then i face the consequence for doing it.

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  4. Yes, God still speaks to people in dreams. Fifteen years ago, my husband and I were trying to decide if we should have a third child. We had two children--a girl and boy--but had stopped at that point due to the need for me to care for my mother who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. After her death, we questioned if we should now consider going back to our original thought of having a larger family or stop with the two children we had. A Christian friend joined me in praying for God's guidance in knowing God's will for our family. Shortly after this, a co-worker that I see infrequently came to tell me about a dream he had the previous night about me where I was very pregnant (this co-worker held his hands out wide to express the enormity of my preganant state in the dream.) My co-worker was mortified by having to come tell me this dream, but for some reason, he felt compelled to come and tell me. I told him of my prayer request and that I believed God was answering my request for guidance by giving this dream to my co-worker. How amazing is our God? He gave this dream to an "independent" third party so I would not doubt the dream--second guessing that I had dreamed it only because it was on my mind. God then would not let this young man rest until he came and told me about the dream, even though my co-worker felt quite foolish when he first came to see me. God is so resourceful in the ways He finds to speak to us and through us. I am thankful that God still speaks to us in dreams--my third child will be 15 in September and he has been a joy to have in our family.

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  5. Anne and Emily,

    Thank you for your responses. I love to hear stories about God speaking and acting in people's lives.

    Emily, Sandra and I experienced soemthing very similar to you when we were trying to get pregnant with our first child (who also happens to be 15!)

    I am convinced that God still speaks to his children today just as he did in biblical times. Listen to the words from the Book of Job:
    Why do you complain to him
    that he answers none of man's words?

    For God does speak—now one way, now another—
    though man may not perceive it.

    In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on men
    as they slumber in their beds,

    he may speak in their ears
    and terrify them with warnings,

    to turn man from wrongdoing
    and keep him from pride,

    to preserve his soul from the pit,
    his life from perishing by the sword (Job 33.13-18)

    Two key questions face us after we accept the fact that God speaks however:

    "Are we willing to listen?" and
    "Are we willing to obey?"

    ReplyDelete

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