Warnings, Visitations & Dreams

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in the second and third chapters of this New Testament book. “Now when Jesus was born in Beth-lehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Beth-lehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Beth-lehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then. Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Beth-lehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring m e word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasure, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way” (Matthew 2:1-12).

 

            “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Beth-lehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard,  lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matthew 2:13-18).

 

            “But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord  appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: For they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young children and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:19-23).

 

            “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-12).

 

            “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the continued narrative of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ—and not only the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ but also the sign and star of the Messiah which would appear in the eastern sky. Upon reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find incredible language concerning the star of the Messiah appearing in the eastern sky and how wise men from the east not only saw the star but also followed the star from where they were unto the land of Judaea and Galilee. The words and language that is found and contained in this passage of Scripture is incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to consider it—particularly and especially when you consider how the eternal and living God spoke to those who would find themselves a part of the narrative and life of the young infant Messiah who was born unto Mary in the town of Bethlehem. It is absolutely incredible to read and consider the words and language found in this passage of Scripture and to come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the means and method God used both to speak to those who would have a part in the narrative of His Son as well as protect and preserve the life of His Son. With this being said it is absolutely impossible to read the words found in this section of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the divine intervention on behalf of His beloved and only begotten Son who had just been born in the earth unto a virgin by the name of Mary.

 

            In all reality I would dare say that if you want to understand the means and method the living God used to both speak and to accomplish His divine will and purpose you need to begin in the first chapter of this gospel narrative. It is in the first chapter of this gospel narrative we find and encounter the incredible and tremendous truth surrounding Joseph discovering Mary—the women he was espoused to be married to—was with child prior to their coming together as husband and wife. If you take the time to read the words found in the latter portion of the first chapter of this gospel narrative you will find the apostle Matthew writing concerning the birth of the Lord Jesus and the incredible part Joseph played in the birth, the protection and the preservation of the Messiah within the earth. The latter part of the first and opening chapter of this gospel begins with the apostle Matthew writing and speaking of the birth of Jesus Christ and describing how his mother Mary would be espoused to Joseph to become his wife. Prior to their coming together, however, she was found to be with child. At this time Joseph would assume infidelity and adultery on her part and sought to put her away privately so as not to bring shame to herself and her family. This is actually quite unique when you take the time to consider it for imagine how you would feel in that situation if the woman you were pledged to be married to was found to be pregnant and with child prior to your coming together as a husband and wife. Entire talk shows and movies are built around this very concept and yet here within Scripture we find it right before our very eyes.

 

            As you continue reading the words and language which is found within this passage of Scripture you will encounter the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding Joseph seeking to put away Mary privately so as not to bring shame and dishonor to herself and her family. What we find in Scripture, however, is something entirely and altogether different from what one would expect. An initial and cursory reading of this passage of Scripture would indeed think that Joseph would be able to put away Mary privately and that he would have ended his engagement to her. Pause for a moment and consider what that would and could have looked like if Mary who at this time was perhaps only a teenager and perhaps not even a young adult could have not only been pregnant but also all alone. Imagine being Mary had Joseph actually been permitted to go through with putting her away as she would be pregnant and alone during those days. Once more entire reality television talk shows, television episodes and movies are centered around this particular concept of women and girls who would be pregnant and end up all alone because the father of the child departed from the picture not wanting to have anything to do with the mother or the child. Pause and consider this from the perspective of Joseph for not only was the woman he was espoused to be married to pregnant with child but that child was most definitely not his. Stop and consider what would and could have gone through the heart and mind of Joseph knowing that the life and the child growing within the woman of the woman he was espoused to be married to was not his child.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will encounter the awesome and incredible intervention of the eternal and living God. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant and with child he thought within himself to put her away privately. Knowing this child was and would not be his Joseph thought to put Mary away privately so as to avoid any type of public disgrace, humiliation and shame. Taking this a step further imagine what Mary could have faced had Joseph chosen to put her away privately and not proceed with the engagement. Eventually and ultimately it would have been discovered that not only was Mary with child but Joseph might not have been the father of the child. Stop and consider what would and could have possibly been said concerning Mary when not only was she pregnant but the man she was espoused to be married to no longer wanted anything to do with her or to take her as his wife. Imagine Mary being pregnant and with child in the land of Judaea and Galilee and the looks and stares she could have received as a direct result of her being pregnant. What’s more is that if she was not only pregnant but was no longer espoused to be the wife of Joseph it might have been assumed that she was unfaithful to him and acted as an adulteress. It would be in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find and discover the just penalty according to the law for adultery and infidelity. In fact I would like to invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning a woman who was caught in the act of adultery:

 

            “Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, NO man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:1-11).

 

            We dare not and must not miss the incredible significance and importance of what is found in this passage of Scripture for within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find a woman who had not only committed adultery but was also caught in the very act of committing adultery. The scribes and the Pharisees not only brought this woman from the place where she had committed adultery with another man but they also brought her unto the Temple which stood in Jerusalem. Oh I can’t help but wonder how far and how long the journey was from where this woman had been caught in adultery to the Temple which stood in the midst of Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. This woman was caught in the act of adultery and not only brought unto the Temple—and quite possibly in the midst of all those who had come unto the Temple to worship the living God with their sacrifices—but also brought into the presence of the Lord Jesus. It would be there in the house of the living God in the presence of that One who claimed that He was the eternal and only begotten Son of God this woman who was caught in the act of adultery was brought into the presence of the Lord Jesus. Once in the Temple court and once in the presence of the Lord Jesus those who brought this woman accusing her of adultery demanded that according to the Law of Moses she be stoned. Not only this but these who stood to accuse this woman would present her before and unto Jesus asking Him what He said concerning this woman and her committing adultery and being caught in the act.

 

            I firmly believe it is necessary to consider the words and language found in the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John—particularly and especially when considering the final verses of the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. If you take the time to read the final verses of the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find that when Joseph discovered Mary who was espoused to be his wife was pregnant and found with child he thought to put her away privately. Oh I still cannot escape the possibility of what would and what could have happened to Mary had she not only been pregnant and with child but was also put away and essentially given a bill of divorcement from the man she was espoused to be married. DIVORCED AND PREGNANT! SINGLE AND PREGNANT! Oh I can’t help but think about what would and could have happened to Mary had she truly been put away by Joseph rather than agreeing to go through with taking her unto himself as his wife. There is not a doubt in my mind that Mary would and could have been considered and adulteress by those in the region in which she lived. Not only this but it is very possible that Mary could have been the talk of the town as those who were present within it would accuse her of all manner of evil and wickedness. Stop and consider what potentially could have happened unto Mary had Joseph put her away and chosen to no longer take her unto himself as his wife.

 

            What we find in the final verses of the opening chapter of this gospel narrative, however, is that despite Joseph thinking to put Mary away privately the living and eternal God would not allow that to happen. In fact I would dare say that what we find in the final verses of the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is a powerful picture of the divine intervention of the living God on behalf of His only begotten Son. The living and eternal God would indeed be aware of Joseph’s desire and thought to put Mary away privately and He was unwilling to allow that to happen. Not only was He unwilling to allow that to happen but He was also unwilling to allow Joseph to think and believe that Mary had been unfaithful to him and committed adultery. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for there is something truly wonderful and beautiful about the words and language we find in this passage of Scripture. There is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for what we find within it is the divine intervention of the eternal and living God on behalf of His Son—and not only on behalf of His Son but also on behalf of Mary who would be the mother of His Son. How absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the beautiful truth surrounding the eternal and living God protecting and preserving both mother and child. The eternal and living God would protect the mother from being put away by Joseph and from potentially be slandered and falsely accused of infidelity, indiscretion and adultery while also protecting and preserving the life of His Son who was growing within the womb of Mary.

 

            Upon continuing to read the words and language found in this passage of Scripture you will find the means and method the living God would protect and preserve both mother and child. If you continue reading the final verses of the first chapter you will that prior to Joseph and Mary coming together as husband and wife she was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost. When Joseph discovered that she was pregnant and with child he did not by any stretch of the imagination even think or conceive that the life growing within her could have and was in fact conceived in her by the Holy Ghost. This is where the eternal Father of the child comes into the picture for He would step in and intervene on behalf of the child growing within the womb of Mary as well as on behalf of Mary herself. The apostle Matthew describes how Joseph her husband—being a just man and not willing to make her a public example—thought and was minded within himself to put her away privily. What’s important to recognize and understand is that the eternal and living God was not willing to allow Joseph to put away Mary and no longer take her as his wife. As a direct result of this he would send one of His holy angels unto Joseph in a dream to speak to Joseph concerning the life which was growing inside the womb of Mary. It would be during the night while Joseph was sleeping an angel of the living God appeared unto him and addressed him as “Joseph, thou son of David.” What’s more is this angel of the living God would go on to instruct him to not to fear to take unto himself Mary as his wife for that which is conceived within her is of the Holy Ghost. Moreover this angel of the living God would go on to declare how she would bring forth a son and how he was to call His name JESUS for He would save his people from their sins.

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the divine intervention of the living God. This would indeed be the first of many dreams that would be released in the earth during the days of the conception and bringing forth of the Messiah within the earth. The first of the dreams which were mentioned within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew would be one that would come unto Joseph while he thought about Mary and putting her away privately so as not to make of her a public example. It would be while Joseph thought upon these things an angel of the living God would come unto him with a very specific message from the living God. Not only would the angel of the living God declare unto Joseph concerning the life which was growing within the womb of Mary was conceived of the Holy Ghost but the angel would also go on to declare unto him that the child’s name was to be called JESUS for He would save His people from their sins. That which the angel revealed unto Joseph was not only how the child was conceived within the womb of Mary but also the name of the child as well as the divine mission and purpose of the child within the earth. The angel of the LORD would indeed and emphatically declare unto Joseph in this dream that the name of the child was to be JESUS thus speaking the name of the Messiah for the first time in recorded history. Up until that point in time there was indeed the Messianic expectation, however, this would be the first time the name of the Messiah would indeed be spoken. It would be unto Joseph in a dream as an angel of the living God spoke unto him the name of the Messiah—and not only the name of the Messiah but also the name of the very Son of God would be spoken for the first time in the midst of the earth.

 

            As you come to the final verses of the opening chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative you will find the apostle Matthew going on to describe how all of this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet. The ancient Hebrew prophet he would write and speak of would be the prophet Isaiah and the words he would refer to would be those words which were found in the seventh chapter of this Old Testament prophetic book. The apostle Matthew would go on to write how all this was done that what was spoken of by the prophet of the LORD might be fulfilled. The word which this ancient Hebrew prophet spoke was concerning a virgin who would be with child and would bring forth a son who would be called Emmanuel, which would be interpreted as “God with us.” Oh this is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words of this passage of Scripture for within the final verses of the opening chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—not only do we see the use of dreams as the means of the living God speaking unto men but we also see the fulfillment of the prophetic word(s) which had been spoken by the ancient Hebrew prophets. Within this passage of Scripture—not only do we see God speaking in the present through dreams but we also see the apostle Matthew looking back to what the living God had already spoken in the past through the prophets. In fact this is something which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews would write in the opening chapter of their epistle for they would write how God in divers manners and in sundry places spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets but had spoken in these last days by and through His eternal and only begotten Son.

 

            In the final verses of the opening chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative we find it written how the living and eternal God would send one of his angels to appear and speak unto Joseph in a dream by the night. The angel of the LORD would not only declare unto Joseph that the child which was conceived within Mary was conceived by the Holy Ghost but would also go on to reveal both the name of the child as well as the divine mission and purpose of the child. The child’s name was to be JESUS and the child would grow up to deliver and save the people from their sins. What’s more is that all of this would take place that it might be fulfilled what the prophet had spoken during their generation. It would be the ancient Hebrew prophet who would prophesy and proclaim that a virgin would be with child and would bring forth a son who would be called Emmanuel which being interpreted was “God with us.” Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for what we find in this passage of Scripture is the obedience of Joseph to the word which the living God had spoken unto him by His angel for the apostle Matthew would describe how Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him. Joseph—instead of putting Mary away privately so as not to expose her to public shame—would take Mary unto himself as his wife according to the word which the angel of the Lord had spoken unto him. What’s more is the apostle Matthew would also go on to describe how he knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son. Not only this but Joseph would also obey the word which the angel of the living God had spoken unto him and would call the name of the child JESUS.

            It is absolutely necessary for us to pay attention to the words which are found in the final section of the first chapter of this gospel narrative for it helps to serve as the background for that which is found in the second chapter of this New Testament gospel. If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of the second chapter you will find the apostle Matthew writing how when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there. Came. Wise men from the east unto Jerusalem. These wise men would journey from the east and would come unto Jerusalem seeking the Messiah and inquiring where He had been born. The apostle Matthew writes and records concerning the wise men who had come from the east and how they came unto Jerusalem and unto Herod asking, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship Him.” Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the appearance of the wise men would indeed set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to one of the greatest massacres in the history of the Jewish people. We know in the Old Testament during the days of the slavery, bondage and oppression of the children of Israel in the land of Egypt how Pharaoh would order all the male children under the age of two be murdered and cast into the Nile River. As a direct result of the continued increasing of the children of Israel in the midst of the land of Egypt Pharaoh would seek to control the population—and quite possibly the threat of the children of Israel—by having all the infant male children put to death.

 

            During the days of Pharaoh king of Egypt and the children of Israel who were at that time living as slaves in the midst of the land of Egypt we find the first of two great massacres which would take place in the history of the chosen people. It would be in the land of Egypt where Pharaoh would attempt to undertake population control by having all the infant male children being put to death and cast into the Nile River. This is important for us to recognize and understand for when we come to the second chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find Herod undertaking something entirely and altogether similar to that which Pharaoh did. When the wise men from the east showed up they not only showed up asking where He was who was born King of the Jews but would also declare how they had seen his star in the east and are come to worship him. Imagine what it would and could have been like in the city of Jerusalem when these wise men showed up in the midst of the city with their camels and gifts which they had brought unto this One who had been born unto and among them. This is something we must needs realize for the words and language these wise men used would be of a grave threat to Herod for not only did they speak of One who was born King of the Jews but they also declared how they came unto Jerusalem and unto the land that they might worship. Stop and consider the incredible significance of the words and language that was used by the wise men for not only did they speak of One who had been born King of the Jews thus denoting royalty and One who would grow up to be king but they would also declare how they had come to worship the child.

 

            The apostle Matthew goes on to describe how when Herod the king had heard the sayings of the wise men he was troubled and all Jerusalem together with him. Herod would immediately gather together all the chief priests and scribes of the people together and demanded of them where Christ should be born. It would be revealed unto Herod how the child was to be born in Bethlehem of Judaea for it was written by the prophet, saying, “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” Oh pay close attention to the words which were spoken unto Herod by the chief priests and scribes for not only had Herod heard from the wise men how one who was to be King of the Jews was born among them, and not only had Herod heard of their desire to worship this child but now Herod heard directly from the words of the prophet that this child which was to be born unto and among them was to become a Governor and would rule the people of Israel. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the tremendous threat the Messiah would bring unto Herod—and perhaps not only to Herod but even unto Jerusalem itself. When the wise men from the east showed up inquiring as to where they might find this One who was born King of the Jews and desired to worship Him Herod together with Jerusalem was troubled. Herod would be all the more troubled when he would discover that this child was to be raised up to be Governor and rule the people of Israel in the midst of the land.

 

            When Herod had heard from the chief priests and scribes concerning where this One who was born King of the Jews would be born he privily sent and called for the wise men and inquired of them diligently what manner of time the star had appeared. What’s more is that Scripture describes how he sent them to Bethlehem and demanded of them that they go and search diligently for the young child. If and/or when they had found him they were to bring word again to him that he too may come and worship the child. Herod would send these wise men who came and appeared from the east unto Bethlehem and they would depart from his presence and would make their way unto the town of Bethlehem. When the wise men from the east heard the king they departed and the star which they saw in the east went before them until it came and stood over where the young child was. Upon seeing the star the wise men would rejoice with exceeding great joy. As they were come into the house where the child was they saw the young child with Mary his mother and fell down and worshipped him. When they opened their treasures they would present unto Him gifts—gold, frankincense and myrrh. There in the house where the star had led them these wise men from the east would not only present their gifts before and unto Him but they would also worship Him in the company and presence of Mary and Joseph. Oh imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to watch and observe as these wife men from the east would appear unto them and not only bore gifts to give unto the child but also fell down and worshipped the child. There in the place where the child and Mary and Joseph were the wise men would present their gifts unto Him and would fall down and worship Him there in the midst of them.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find how after the wise men presented their gifts unto the child and worshipped Him they would be warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod. How absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it for within this passage of Scripture—not only do we find the reality of worship but we also find that of the warning of God. THE WORSHIP OF THE WISE MEN AND THE WARNING OF GOD! There is something truly awesome and powerful about what we find in this passage of Scripture for within it we find the wise men coming unto Jerusalem inquiring as to where this child who was to be born King of the Jews was to be born that they might worship Him. When the wise men showed up they deliberately and intentionally showed up that they might worship Him and present their gifts unto and before Him. Oh imagine what Herod and Jerusalem would and could have thought if they not only knew these wise men showed up to worship this One who was born King of the Jews but they also came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. If Herod and all Jerusalem was troubled upon hearing the wise men inquiring of One who was to be born King of the Jews and how they had come to worship Him—imagine what they would have thought had they also known they came bearing gifts they were going to present unto Him as a sign of worship and honor.

 

            If there is one thing I find absolutely incredible about the words which are presented in the opening portion of the second chapter it’s that once more we find the living God speaking in the present and a look back to that which God had spoken. What we find in the opening verses of the second chapter is not only a picture of what the living and eternal God had spoken by and through the prophet Micah but we also find the living God speaking by and through dreams which were given unto the wise men who appeared unto the east. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for this would be the second time in this gospel narrative we find the use of a dream which was released in the earth unto the wise men—and not only a dream which was released in the earth but also the prophetic word which was spoken in times past. It is something truly and incredibly unique when reading the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and how within this passage of Scripture we find the apostle Matthew presenting unto his readers both the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet had spoken unto the fathers in previous generations as well as the living and eternal God speaking in the present through dreams. The first of these dreams would be that which was given unto Joseph instructing him not to fear taking Mary unto himself as his wife for that which was conceived within her was of the Holy Ghost. It would be unto Joseph this first dream would be released as the living and eternal God would speak directly unto him through one of his angels concerning the child which was to be born unto her.

 

            At the conclusion of the first section of the second chapter of this gospel narrative we find the wise men being warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod. As a direct result of their being warned in a dream that they should not return unto Herod they would depart into their own country another way. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to how the Lord spoke in times past through His servants the prophets and how the Lord spoke in the present times. I find it absolutely astonishing and remarkable when reading the words found in the opening chapters of this gospel narrative how the apostle Matthew not only draws upon the prophetic words which had been spoken to demonstrate and illustrate how the living God kept and fulfilled His promises but was also bringing about that which He had spoken through His servants the prophets. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth—particularly and especially when you consider the awesome and beautiful reality surrounding the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah had spoken. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah you will inevitably be brought to the place where you will find this prophet of the most High God speaking about the thoughts and ways of the Lord. What’s more is that not only did the prophet speak about the thoughts and ways of the Lord but he also spoke about how the thoughts and ways of the living God are higher than ours. What’s more is that within this same passage you will find the prophet going on to speak of the word of the living God which He speaks and releases from His mouth.

 

            Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When speaking unto the southern kingdom of Judah during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah we find the prophet Isaiah delivering a powerful message unto the inhabitants of the land concerning the divine will and plan of the living God within the earth. The prophet Isaiah sought to draw and call their attention to the wonderful and beautiful truth centered upon the thoughts and ways of the LORD which He emphatically declared and explained were higher than ours. With this being said we must needs realize and understand that God honors his word above his name and that what He has spoken He will indeed bring to pass. When thinking about and considering the voice of the living God—and not only the voice of the living God but also that which He has spoken—it is absolutely necessary and imperative we understand that He can and will bring to pass that which He has spoken in times past. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews did emphatically declare that God has in divers manners and in sundry times spoken unto the fathers by and through His servants the prophets and how He has spoken and is speaking in these Last Days through His eternal Son. With that being said we must needs recognize that there are words and prophecies which were spoken by the ancient Hebrew prophets which still haven’t come to pass and been fulfilled. The days in which we are reading concerning the birth of the Lord Jesus are incredibly insightful and intriguing when you take the time to think about them for they reveal how the living and eternal God would indeed fufill and accomplish that which He had spoken by and through His servants the prophets. One of the greatest truths we must needs understand and acknowledge is that the living and eternal God can and will bring about the fulfillment of that which He had spoken.

 

            If there is one thing the words which are found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew reveal it’s how the living and eternal God has brought to pass the direct fulfillment of what He had spoken unto and through His servants the prophets. It is not coincidental and is indeed by design the apostle Matthew is sure to reference the words which were spoken by and through the ancient Hebrew prophets for He sought to demonstrate how the events which were taking place during those days were not only in direct alignment with but were also the direct fulfillment of that which the living God had spoken by and through His servants the prophets. We must needs recognize and understand this for when seeking to comprehend and truly grasp the days of the Lord Jesus we must needs acknowledge that they were times of prophecies being fulfilled. Those days were indeed days when the living and eternal God would indeed speak through dreams leading up until the time of John the Baptist who would be the first prophetic voice which would emerge and speak in the earth since Malachi who prophesied more than a century after the return of the exiles from the land of the Chaldeans. In the days leading up to the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist we find the living and eternal God not only speaking through angelic messengers—the most notable being Gabriel—but we also find Him speaking through dreams. The living and eternal God would speak unto Joseph by and through his angel in the midst of a dream and would later speak unto wise men directly warning them not to return unto Herod.

 

            With all of this in mind I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah spoke concerning the thoughts and ways of the living God—and not only the thoughts and ways of the living God but also His divine word which He speaks and releases into the earth. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the fifty-fifth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah:

 

            “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; Come ye, buy, and eat; Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisifeth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee” (Isaiah 55:1-5).

 

            “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: And let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:6-13).

 

            SO SHALL MY WORD BE THAT GOETH FORTH OUT OF MY MOUTH! IT SHALL NOT RETURN UNTO ME VOID, BUT IT SHALL ACCOMPLISH THAT WHICH I PLEASE, AND IT SHALL PROSPER IN THE THING WHERETO I SENT IT! Pause for a moment and consider the full weight and significance of the words which the prophet Isaiah spoke and declared unto the inhabitants of the southern kingdom of Judah for according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the word of the LORD the prophet not only declared that the word of God not return unto Him void but he would also go on to declare that the word of the living God would accomplish that which He pleased and would prosper in the thing whereto He had sent it. This is incredibly important for us to recognize and understand for it brings us face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the word which the living and eternal God speaks from His mouth. The living and eternal God would release a word and the word which He spoke would not only accomplish that which He sent it forth to do but it would not return unto Him. This would both be true of the audible word which the living God spoke and delivered from His mouth as well as the Word which was made flesh and dwelt among us. The single greatest word that was spoken from the Father was the Word which was made flesh and dwelt among us as we beheld the glory of the eternal Father in Him.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in the second chapter of this prophetic book you will find another angel of the Lord appearing unto Joseph in yet another dream. The purpose of this angelic visitation was to warn Joseph concerning Herod and to instruct him to take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt and remain there until he would bring him word. Furthermore the angel would go on to declare how Herod would seek the young child to destroy him—a reality which seems to be in direct alignment with the prophetic vision which the apostle John saw and recorded in the twelfth chapter of the prophetic Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The great red dragon drew a third of the stars in the heavens and cast them down to the earth with his tail and sought to devour the child that was to be born of the woman who was clothed with the sun and had the moon at her feet and the twelve stars as a crown upon her head. What we find in this passage of Scripture is the angel of the LORD declaring unto Joseph how Herod would seek to find the child that was born unto Mary in Bethlehem and would seek to destroy him. What makes this truly astonishing and remarkable when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that the angel of the LORD would appear unto Joseph in a dream during the night and would not only warn him concerning the murderous intention of Herod but also instruct him to take the child and His mother into the land of Egypt where they were to abide.

 

            Please don’t miss that which is found in this passage of Scripture for not only do we find this angelic visitation as means to warn Joseph concerning the murderous threat and desire of Herod but also to fulfill that which was spoken by the prophet. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is found here for on the one hand this passage describes the angelic visitation unto Joseph seeking to warn him of Herod’s desire to seek after the child to destroy him. On the other hand that which we find here was the means to fulill and carry out that which had been spoken of by the prophet Hosea—words which had been spoken generations earlier. It would be the apostle Matthew who would go on to describe how Joseph once more obeyed the word and voice of the angel and would take the young child and his mother by night and would depart into Egypt. Joseph, the child and his mother would remain in the land of Egypt until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet. The prophetic word that would be spoken by the prophet would be included in this gospel narrative by the apostle Matthew for he would quote “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” This is important for us to recognize and pay attention to for within the final section of the second chapter we see two different and distinct prophetic words which were spoken at two different times by two different prophets. What’s more is that each of these prophetic words would describe something entirely different in direct connection to the life of the Messiah. The prophet Hosea would describe the Messiah being in the land of Egypt for a time before being brought forth from the midst of the land while the prophet Jeremiah would describe a period of tremendous mourning, weeping and wailing in the midst of the land as a result of a great massacre.

 

            If you read the words which are found in the second chapter of this gospel narrative you will find the apostle Matthew writing how Herod—when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men—was exceeding wroth and sent forth and slew all the children which were in Bethlehem and in all the coasts thereof from two years old and under. This is something we must needs recognize for when we consider the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah had spoken we find him speaking of a voice being heard in Rama—a lamentation, a weeping and a great mourning—as Rachel would weep for her children and could not be comforted. What makes this incredibly interesting when you think about and consider this is when you think about what the prophet Jeremiah actually saw when he prophesied these words generations before the time of the Messiah. The question we must ask is whether or not Jeremiah knew and understood that he would be prophesying and speaking concerning the time of the Messiah. Did Jeremiah know that what he was seeing and speaking would be a great massacre and genocide that would take place during the time of the Messiah? Did Jeremiah know that there would be a ruler and leader upon the earth in the midst of the land who would seek to devour and destroy the Messiah who would be born unto and among them? Did Jeremiah see Herod being filled with great wrath and rage and setting forth to slaughter all those children two years old and under after realizing he had been mocked of the wise men? Scripture is entirely and altogether clear whether or not Jeremiah knew and understood what he was prophesying and perhaps even what he was seeing. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize that his words were in direct alignment and fulfillment with events that would take place during the time of the Messiah as Herod would slaughter and massacre all the children which were in Bethlehem and the coasts thereof which were under the age of two.

 

            What we must needs recognize and realize when reading the words which are found in the opening chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is that this would now be the fourth prophetic word that would be referenced by the apostle. The first prophetic word referenced by the apostle would be the prophetic word spoken by Isaiah concerning the virgin conceiving and bringing forth a child who would be called Emmanuel. The apostle Matthew would also quote and reference the prophet Micah when speaking of the Messiah being born in the town of Bethlehem and how Bethlehem of Judah—though it would be small in stature—would bring forth a ruler who would be a Governor and would rule the people of Israel. Not only this but the apostle Matthew would also include the prophetic word spoken of by the prophet Hosea concerning the Messiah being found in the land of Egypt and being called forth from the midst of the land of Egypt as the Son of the living and most High God. Moreover the apostle Matthew would include the prophetic word spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah concerning a voice that was heard in Rama—a lamentation, a mourning and weeping as Rachel wept for her children and would not be comforted because they are not. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it draws and calls our attention to the apostle Matthew seeking to invite his readers into the place where they understood the prophetic words which had been spoken—and not only the prophetic words which had been spoken but also how those prophetic words were indeed fulfilled during the time of the Messiah. The apostle Matthew sought to demonstrate the fulfillment of the prophetic word and voices of the Hebrew prophets concerning the Messiah and how during the days of the Messiah those words would indeed be fulfilled among them in their midst.

 

            In the final section of the second chapter we find another prophetic word being fulfilled by the Messiah and those times for the apostle Matthew records how when Herod was dead an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream unto Joseph in Egypt instructing him to arise and take the young child and his mother and go into the land of Israel for those which sought his life were dead. The apostle Matthew records how Joseph arose and took the young child and his mother and came into the land of Israel. When, however, he learned that the brother of Herod reigned in Judaea in the room of his father Herod he was afraid to go up unto that place. Once more Joseph would be warned of God in a dream and would turn aside into the parts of Galilee as he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth. Oh it is absolutely incredible to read the words which are found here for this would yet be one more prophetic word that would be spoken concerning the Messiah—namely, “He shall be called a Nazarene”—and how the events of those days would bring about the fulfillment of the prophetic word. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within the opening two chapters of this gospel narrative—not only do we find angelic visitations, not only do we find warnings from God but we also find dreams being released in the earth. WARNINGS, VISITATIONS AND DREAMS! The days of the Messiah—from the time He was born and during those early years—would be days which were characterized by prophetic words being fulfilled, angelic visitations, dreams and warnings from God. What’s more is that all of this would work in harmony and unity with that which was spoken of by the ancient Hebrew prophets concerning the Messiah and the coming and days of the Messiah. This is something we have a great need to recognize and understand for if you want to understand the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you must understand it in terms of the prophetic words which were spoken by the ancient Hebrew prophets in times past concerning the Messiah.

 

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the third chapter for in addition to angelic visitations, dreams and warnings from God we find the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Perhaps one of the greatest words which were spoken concerning the days of the Messiah was the one spoken by the prophet Isaiah concerning the forerunner and messenger of the Messiah. It is in the third chapter of this New Testament gospel we find the apostle John describing how in those days John the Baptist would come preaching in the wilderness of Judaea and calling those who would come unto him to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. The prophetic ministry of John the Baptist would indeed be such that would bring about the fulfillment of that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah—“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Even John the Baptist would refer to himself as the voice of one crying in the wilderness thus directly linking and connecting himself to the prophetic word which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah. Oh there is something truly astonishing and captivating about the ministry of John the Baptist for what we find is a great preparation of the people and the land for the coming of the Messiah. The sole purpose, role and function of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah that men and women might come to repentance and be made ready as a bride for the bridegroom when He arrives and appears. If you want to truly understand the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist you must needs understand him as the friend of the bridegroom who would not only prepare the bride for the bridegroom but would also to some degree present the bride unto the bridegroom.

 

It is absolutely necessary we understand the words which are found in the third chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for what we find here is a tremendous picture of the living and eternal God speaking in an entirely different manner from angelic visitations, dreams and warnings from heaven. What we find during these days is not angels being sent from heaven to proclaim the message of God nor even dreams being released unto the spirits of men. What we find at this particular juncture is the first prophetic voice being raised up in the midst of the earth since the time of Malachi who prophesied of his coming. We must needs recognize and understand that which is found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the messenger and forerunner who would prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. Oh I have long believed that John the Baptist as a prophetic forerunner and messenger of the Messiah is a powerful picture and shadow of a ministry that will be present in the earth during the Last Days leading up to the return and coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must needs recognize and understand that during these days there is a great need for a prophetic revelation to be manifested as men and women are prepared for the coming of the Messiah. We have a great need and responsibility within our hearts and souls to be those who are willing to be a prophetic voice and messenger for the bridegroom that we might not only prepare and adorn ourselves as the bride of Christ but might also make ready others to be part of the collective bride of Christ in the earth.

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