Matthew 2:13-23 - Listening to the Lord
The sinister intent of King Herod is played out in our reading today as he orders the killing of all male children under the age of 2 years. However, hovering above the efforts of this puppet king to protect his throne, is the mighty arm of the Creator God who will not have his will and purpose deflected or compromised. The Lord God (1) speaks words of protection to Joseph through an angel, (2) ensures action is taken to position this young family out of harms way, and (3) protects the family until it's time for them to safely return to their land of birth. As a consequence Joseph as father, secures the safety of his young wife and adopted son, by escaping the murderous activity of a dictator king into Egypt and living as refugees before returning to Israel and settling into Nazareth.
Joseph is obedient: In verse 14 we note that Joseph woke his family and immediately left for Egypt and such obedience is consistent with that which he demonstrated in 1:24. Joseph is attentive: He was tuned to listening and responding to the prompting of the Lord. There would have been many offering suggestions to this young family and the temptation to return home would have been great. Yet Joseph waited until the Angel of the Lord communicated with them again; and he also remained attentive to the Angel again telling them there was danger in Judea, so they settled in Nazareth. Joseph is thoughtful and reflective: He reflects the reality of being created in the image of God and demonstrates his capacity to think and reflect as he aligns his personal reflection to the will and purpose of God. In Matthew 1:19-25, we see that Joseph was a deeply faithful follower of the Lord and he also demonstrated grace and compassion (vs 19). This thoughtful reflective reasoning is always moderated and shaped by his attentive attitude toward the Lords messenger (1:20 and again in 2:22). In our reading today, his own reflection is confirmed by the warning he receives in a dream. He has obviously heard recent news about Herod's death and the deathbed appointment of another of his sons to rule over Judea. It's reasonable to conclude that Joseph sought the Lords wisdom and direction for he had not let him down on the previous occasions. This time a warning is given; just short of direct words to avoid the place but the warning in a dream is enough for Joseph to conclude that going to Galilee is the best option.
As you ponder these verses and consider the impact of the whole scenario involving the Magi, Joseph and the Angel messenger from God, what have you learned about God, and about yourself. In particular, how might you be more intent on a life of obedience, attentiveness and deliberate reflectiveness as you seek to know the will of God for your life and relationships.