You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?
Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.
Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, what do you know about Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus? Oh, Joseph. Yeah. You know, we know a lot about Mary and the birth of Jesus, but Joseph, I don't know. Well, Matthew records a lot. He gives us almost all the detail we have about Joseph's role in the early life of Jesus.
Yeah. So we're going to read that today. Joseph and the birth and raising of Jesus on More Than Ink. Well, good morning. This is Jim.
And this is Dorothy. And you found More Than Ink, where we assert that what is written on the pages of the Bible is actually more than the ink that's there. There's something quite deeper, more soulish. Something going on. About what's there. And in fact, you can empirically can kind of, in my experience, you can test that because I've read the passages we're going to look at today. We're in Matthew 2. And I've read them, I don't know how many times, I don't know how many times you've read them.
Over your lifetime? Yeah. Okay. We both know them so well. And yet every time you go back and read this same ink on this page, something new comes out. Something strikes fresh. And it's not because you were kind of sluggish when you first read it. It's just that there's more depth here than originally meets the eye.
So that's why we call this More Than Ink. And we're glad you're with us. We just started Matthew last time we were together. And of course the beginning of Matthew is all about the birth of Jesus.
And last week we got him birthed, right? Yeah. And Matthew moves fast here.
He does move fast. Because then there's a whole big gap and suddenly the next scene opens with the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Yeah.
Boom, boom, boom. So Matthew just skips over completely all of the childhood stuff. And there's very little reference to childhood anyway in the scriptures. But it's not the kind of biography we like to read today. You know, it doesn't fill in all the gaps. And that's a little frustrating.
But the gaps does fill our grades. So here we are in chapter two. Jesus has been born. And if you want to follow with us, we're reading out of the ESV Bible. Do you want to start us off?
Sure, I'll start. And this is just a little while after the birth now. Yeah. So beginning of chapter two. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, Where is he who's been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. When Herod heard the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it's written by the prophet. And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah. For from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them on to Bethlehem saying, Go and search diligently for the child.
And when you found him, bring me word that I too may come and worship him. Do you want to stop? Yeah, let's stop there. That's probably farther than we should have gone. Yeah.
Yeah, kind of far. There's a lot of historical detail here. Well, there is a ton of historical detail here. And, you know, we always talk about the Magi. That's what we call them.
Right. The wise men. They're not kings. They're wise men. But they're guys who are astute at studying the heavens largely. Among other things, but also interpreters of dreams.
Interpreter dreams. Right. And so they were they were always engaged in very important stuff like the emergence of kings, which is why they have an interest. Where were these guys from?
Because that's important here. Yeah, right. Probably Babylon. It's emphasized that they came from the east.
So if they're coming out of Babylon, Persia more recently at the time that this is written, that's 800 miles away. Yeah. So they've been on the road a little while. If they came by the most expeditious route in the most expeditious way, it still would have taken them over a month.
Yeah, maybe a month, two months. Yeah. And it's it's speculated that these guys are ancient ancestors of the captivity, the Jewish captivity to Babylon.
And they're leftovers there. So that's why they would be attuned to something about a Jewish king coming. Okay, but if they're not Jews, they're acquainted with the Jewish scripture. The Jewish scripture, yeah, exactly. And so, you know, the best thinking I've heard on it is that they're actually interpreting the alignment of the stars with the planets.
Right. And so but they had a clue that the king of the Jews had been born, which is actually quite different because in ancient times, kings came from princes. Princes grew up in family and then when the father died, they'd be. So it's really unusual to have a king born as a baby.
It really is quite unusual. But they said, they said, this is what the stars told us. He's been born here. This star rose and we saw it and we came to Jerusalem. By the way, note, the star didn't take them to Jerusalem. They came to Jerusalem because they knew it was the king of the Jews. Right.
So that's kind of an interesting thing. So they kind of bumble themselves into town and they go right to the king himself. Herod, who, you know, talking about Jews. Which is a logical place to go. It's a logical place to go, especially, I think, if you read between the lines, it looks like they're expecting that once they got to Israel, especially to Jerusalem, especially to the king, that there would be general enthusiasm that they, you know, they're insiders, they're Jews.
They should know this happened. Right. And you know, we would think that he who will be king was born, right? So when a royal family has a baby, it produces an air and there's a lot of excitement because the next generation is insured, right? And I think they were expecting that and that's not exactly what they found. They found a king who was, a king who was very threatened by the presence of an adversary king. Well Matthew lays that out right at the beginning, right? He says, this was in the time of Herod, the great king, but here's these guys from the East coming saying, well, where's the king who's been born king of the Jews?
Because you're not it. That's right. Because Herod actually was not a full blooded Jew. So there you see the conflict, you know, and you know, some people, some people place this whole story right here is kind of a myth, but historically I went and looked it up some time ago. It turns out when Nero was king, you know, around 63, 4, 5 AD, there were some Magi that came and came to Nero the same way many years later. So it's, it wasn't an uncommon thing.
That's what these guys did. But let's talk about Herod for a second. He was really quite the dirt bag. Well, yeah, but Herod the Great was a man of tremendous influence. So he was on the throne from 37 BC to about 4 BC. And that's really well documented. Very well documented.
The calendar is actually off by four years. We'll talk about that another time. But we know we get in this story, the death of Herod later on. But he's a very powerful man, very easily intimidated too by this adversary king. And in fact, it was Augustus that said it's safer to be Herod's pig than Herod's son because Herod had taken out three of his sons, including his wife, including at one point, he arrested and killed 300 men from the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders. I mean, he was ruthless when he needed to be. He was ruthless and bloodthirsty. He was a very powerful man, but also a really great builder. And by this point in the story, he'd been working on the temple site for two decades. So it's renowned what he built. And there is stuff still standing in Jerusalem today that this man is responsible for the design and building of.
So we're talking about a fixed point in history. Yep, without question, no myth at all. This is a real guy.
This is a real guy. So anyway, they come, they ask him where the king has been born. He assembles all of his religious dudes, and they come together and they say, well, it's very clear it should be Bethlehem. And that's from Micah 5, 2.
And there's no question about this. It's got to be Bethlehem. So he ends up passing that information along and says it's supposed to be in Bethlehem. And they listened to the king, and they went off. Okay, let's stop for a minute because the references to the prophets are all through this passage.
Yes, a lot. And it was said at the beginning that Matthew is writing the story of the Messiah King. And so he's constantly referencing the scripture. So we've already had references into Micah.
And there's another one that's kind of between the lines here. When we see that the wise men saw a star, they saw something in the heavens. There is an ancient prophecy way back in Numbers spoken by Balaam, who was a prophet called in to prophesy against Israel on behalf of the Moabites when they were coming into the land of promise.
Real history. So let me just read this to you because this is way back in Numbers 24, 17. And Balaam was not actually a prophet of the Lord, but God got his attention and said, you're going to speak my word anyway.
And so this is numbers 24, 17. Balaam says, I see him, but not now. I behold him, but not near. A star shall come forth from Jacob and a scepter shall rise from Israel and shall crush through the forehead of Moab. So he had been called in to prophesy against Israel. He's saying, oh, I can't do that because there's going to be a king who's going to reign.
He looked like a star coming out of this. And a scepter, which means a ruling king. A king, right. Shall rise out of Israel. So that is an ancient prophecy clear back into Numbers.
So it's really appropriate that these guys should be attracted into town by a star. Right. Yeah, that's really interesting. And that actually, if you are learning to study your Bible, that reference should be in the cross references that's in the column of your Matthew text here.
That's actually why I brought it up. That tiny print in the column next to this, it should be out of reference. So don't skip over those if you are just beginning to learn to study the Bible. Chase down those cross references.
Those aren't random. Yeah, yeah. Well, let's push on. Verse nine is where he stopped.
Okay. Verse nine. Verse nine. After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they'd seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.
Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. By another way. Yeah.
Stop there. You do notice that when Herod told them, you go find the baby and come back and report to me, it doesn't say here they agreed to do that. It just said they listened and went. Well because they realized this child is not here. Yeah. And I think they picked up from their discussion with Herod that maybe he wasn't totally sincere when he said, I want to worship the baby.
Perhaps. You're reading apart from the text here. I'm reading apart from the text. But just to make it clear then in verse 12, it says they had a dream and the dream said, you better go home another way. Go home another way.
Don't go back to him. Yeah. So the star when it rose, they came and it came to rest over the place where the child was. There's a certain amount of mystery about the... Well there is. About exactly what this is, but there is no question about the fact that this star in God's ability to lead them, took them with great specificity, with great detail to exactly this spot. That's interesting to me because God's guidance and purpose is accomplished weave all through this, this narrative.
And we're going to get into that when we move on towards just for the minute. God is very much in control of everything. God is in control. But look where they were when the star guides them to stop. They come to a house. A house. So this is sometime after the birth of Jesus. They're no longer camping in a stable. Right.
They're settled in a house in Bethlehem. And based on what's going to happen in a little bit here, the timeline could be that this is a year to two years after the birth. Right. So it's kind of hard to tell where they are, but they've changed positions, but God knows where they are and God sent them exactly to the right spot, even if they move from where they were in the beginning of the narrative. So yeah, that's okay.
I'm resetting my clock here. And then they're being warned in a dream, right? Yeah. So we kind of tend to discount dreams today, but God uses dreams, has used dreams all through the history and the scriptures for guidance and to reveal information. Now he doesn't necessarily reveal doctrine, but he does give guidance.
And we're going to see in a minute how much he guided Joseph through dreams. Yeah. That'll be really prominent. I thought I might bring up just a little trivia because I'm the king of Tyria and stuff like this, but when it says that the star rested over the place, it literally says it stood over the head of the child.
That's what it literally says, which is okay. I mean, that's the spot, but that's been speculated to be the source of this whole artistic thing about halos, a light over the head. Oh, that's interesting. And it came from this very thing. And there's another piece of Tyria right here. We really don't know how many wise men there were.
No, we don't. But we do know there were three gifts. See, and it's the three gifts that people said, well, that's one gift per guy. So there's a lot of crazy traditions that have built up around the ambiguity about who these guys are. In fact, there's a cathedral in Germany that says they have the three skulls of the three wise men.
So I don't think I'd give too much credence to that, but just a lot of speculation. So I'm just telling you because we're talking about Bible study, stick to the stuff that you see here. Stick to the text.
And don't get distracted by all that other stuff. Because there's a lot of overburden of tradition and mythology that have built up around this. Stick to what God's word actually says.
Because you notice here, we don't have the names of the three wise men, which you see in all the traditions and stuff. So just stick to what's here. And that's plenty because you'll understand what's going on. So in the end, they go back another way because they're warned in a dream and, well, Herod is thwarted and he's not used to being thwarted. And he's whopping mad.
So yeah, let me pick it up at 13 then. So now when they had departed, behold, this is when the Magi departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. This is number two for Joseph in his dream sequence. This is the second one. And said, so rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him.
Yeah, he's whopping mad. And so he rose, Joseph rose, took the child and his mother by night and departed Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. And this was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet out of Egypt, I called my son. Okay, we can camp there for a second.
Yeah, go ahead. Because this is, as you said, dream number two. Well, dream number one occurred in the first chapter when the angel appeared to Joseph and said, now don't be afraid to take Mary because that which is conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was getting ready to divorce her. Right, because then it says he rose and took her as his wife, right? And it was described in chapter one that Joseph was a just man. Well, that same root is Joseph was a righteous man. And we know from the whole of scriptures that the righteous live by faith, right?
God counts believing him as righteousness to those who believe him. So that's all packed up in the fact that every time Joseph has a dream and gets instruction, he wakes up and does it. Yeah, that's really distinctive about Joseph because he acts. He acts based on what God tells him. And that's what faith is. Because he believes it. Because he believed. So God tells him to go to Egypt and goes, 10-4, we're going to Egypt. He's really a great man of faith and action because faith ought to always be demonstrated and evidenced in action.
And Joseph is a man of action. I might point out here as well, it's not really well known, but Egypt at the time had a very large population of Jews still. And some historians, I think it's Philo the historian who wrote about the time just after Jesus says there was over a million Jews there. So there was actually a large community there that he could join. He wasn't just being completely abandoned to the Egyptians.
He probably assimilated the family into a Jewish community there because it was quite large. Okay, and this is a place where it might be helpful for you to look at a map in the back of your Bible. So you can see, because the historicity of this passage is important. You can see how far it was from Persia to Jerusalem. You can see how far it was from the regions of Bethlehem down to Egypt, about 90 miles probably, at a well, well traveled route. So you didn't have to go out in the wilderness and ask somebody which way is Egypt.
You just got on the road and it went there, right? So it's helpful to be able to see that because these places are still named this. Still named the same thing. Yeah, exactly.
So they haven't even changed their name. That's what's really remarkable right here. So what do you make of out of Egypt I Called My Son? Ah, that's quoting Hosea 11 and it's kind of quixotic in many ways.
People look at that sort of sideways and go, what, isn't that about something else? Well, it is about something else because it hearkens clear back to Exodus. Yes, all the way back to Exodus. When God had said through Moses to Pharaoh, now let my son go and God brought them out.
Yeah, let me just read you what it is. Hosea 11, 1. Hosea is one of the minor prophets.
Hosea 11, 1. When Israel was a child, I loved him. This is God speaking in the first person. When Israel was a child, I loved him.
And out of Egypt, I called my son. So clearly it's talking about the Exodus. But it's also talking about God's son, the Messiah. So this also demonstrates in biblical interpretation that many times a passage can mean two things and neither one is right or wrong.
They're both right. They have a dual application. You find dual applications a lot in scripture. And this is really a profoundly good example of that very thing. And that's really actually a good rule when we're reading the prophets to understand that they were speaking a current message to the people in whose time they lived. Yes. But it very often has a later fulfillment either in the time of Jesus or beyond that. Or beyond, yeah.
Yeah. Yeah, so don't get caught up in the discussions, the arguments about, no, it means this, no, it means this, no, it means this time period. Well, it means both. Yeah, it could very well mean both. And that's not an accident. God does that quite a lot.
Does that quite a lot. Oh, we've got to press on. Let's press on. Shall I read? Sixteen.
Sixteen, okay. Then Herod, ooh, Herod when he saw that he'd been tricked by the wise men became furious. And he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in that region who were two years old and under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. And this was fulfilled, then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah. A voice was heard in Rama weeping in loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children.
She refused to be comforted because they are no more. Okay, that actually, that quotation from Jeremiah is an excellent example. Another great example. Of the two fulfillment thing. Because when Jeremiah wrote it, he was talking about the women of Jerusalem weeping for their children carried off into exile to Babylon.
Yes. But here Matthew picks it up and says, oh no, it was really talking about this, the slaughter of these babies. It's talking both. Yeah, there was that weeping and loud lamentation in both circumstances. And here he says it's actually fulfillment of this as well. And now some people will say that there's no record of Herod ever doing this. But in reality, Bethlehem was a teeny little place and there were probably a couple of dozen babies under the age of two. And so it really wouldn't even have risen to the level of importance to be historically recorded. Well, just a blip in all the horrible things that Herod did.
Yeah. And the person I read said maybe a dozen, maybe a few more. So I mean, that's bad, but it's not like we think hundreds and hundreds and there's blood in the streets. And who's Carson? Our listeners may not have any idea about that. He's a Bible, he's a Bible commentarian. So he, you know, yeah, maybe a dozen, maybe two dozen, but not many.
So it's, it doesn't make, it's not out of the ordinary that this would not be recorded because from our standpoint, it's not a, it's not a gigantic bloodbath. But it's a pretty wide window. Two years. Yeah. All the two years.
So what keeps this? John the Baptist. John the Baptist. Because he was a baby at the same time in roughly the same area, perhaps.
So it's true. Yeah. He, he might have been hidden away because he was more in the Jerusalem area. I was going to say, yeah, he wasn't actually in Bethlehem, I don't think. Six or seven miles away, but we don't know how large a radius Herod killed babies.
So anyway, who knows, but John the Baptist, if he was close, would have been there. Okay. Let's, let's finish the story in chapter two here. Okay.
19. Go ahead. And an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, oh, so God's not limited by geography, saying, rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel for those who sought the child's life are dead. And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Arcleus was reigning in Judea over the place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, this is dream number four, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. Yay.
Okay. So in fact, this is our last, this is our last view of Joseph in the entire gospel. And it's some, some, for some reason, he just fades into Godness. Okay, now wait a minute, there is another reference in, I think where it is when they're talking about Jesus staying behind at the temple and his parents, plural. Not in Matthew. It's not in Matthew.
Oh well, but yeah. I think it's in Luke. Joseph by name is not mentioned anymore.
Joseph by name is not mentioned, but he's still living at that time when Jesus is 12. Yeah, so we don't really, yeah, so we don't know when he's off the scene, maybe perhaps he died, that's a speculation. But this is really the last mention of him here. By name.
Yeah, by name, yeah. And again, he does what we really love. He gets a revelation from God, he salutes and says yes sir, and he acts, and he moves. He gets specific guidance, right, that the angel says, and the angel of the Lord is the one who's talking to him in all these dreams. That's the, very often the personification of the Lord himself when we run across that term. Now you can look that up in your concordance and track those down. This is learning to do Bible study here.
Well, and it's interesting. So he gets the dream to come back to Israel, and then he comes back to Israel, and presumably he comes back to the region of Jerusalem, or somewhere like there, I mean, or maybe even Bethlehem. We don't really know exactly where he came back to, and the dream wasn't specific, by the way. Right, well back to where they left in a hurry. But yeah, it just came back there, and then he does come back there. Herod the Great is indeed dead, his sons have now split up the kingdom, and Archelaus is in charge of that lower region, and he's deeply disturbed by the fact, because he has a reputation as well.
In fact. Archelaus has bled through Jesus' father. Archelaus was such an incompetent and horrible ruler that he's one of the few regional rulers that actually got recalled to Rome.
He was taken off, and he was deposed by Rome itself because of the complaints of the people. So at the point that Joseph here is all twisted about the fact that we've got even a worse guy in charge, then God satisfies his anxiety, brings a dream to him, says, yep, you need to go back to Nazareth. Now Nazareth is not a new place to them, that's where they came from.
Probably, yeah. Well it says that specifically Mary was when she had the original visitation. So they're basically going back home to Nazareth. But I think to Joseph, that's kind of an odd move for the king. Why would the king do it in Nazareth? And you've got to realize Nazareth had a pretty poor reputation in terms of the towns in Israel.
Because remember it was Nathanael that said, well can anything good come out of Nazareth? So here you have the baby king being taken to really an outback area that has a relatively poor population. An out of the way place. An out of the way place, obscurity in that sense, and actually poor reputation. So you can't say he came from the best town, like I was born in Jerusalem and raised in Jerusalem. He's at what I call Hicksville, Hicksville of Nazareth. But that's really appropriate. That obscurity is important for Jesus' life and what he's going to do when he grows up.
So good place to be. I would encourage you, because there's so many place names and people names, look these up in your Bible dictionary. Because you'll learn some things. And that's an important part of being able to digest Bible study, is when we're given these kind of details, look them up. What can you learn about Nazareth in terms of where else is it mentioned in the Bible? Because here at the very end of this passage, it says the prophets said that he would be called a Nazarene. Well there is no specific prophecy that says that, but there is a place at the beginning of Isaiah 11 where it says a shoot will come out of Jesse, a branch out of the stump. And that word for shoot or branch sounds like Nazareth.
Yeah, it's Netzer. So that's possibly what the connection is there. But in any case, he's going to come out of a dead stump of a place. By the way, that Isaiah 11 passage, it says a stem of Jesse, Jesse is the father of David, and so the Messiah has to come from David's line. And we talked about that when we talked about the genealogy. Exactly, so that makes a whole lot of sense to be here.
So we are out of time. Well that's chapter two. But you know, think back about the dreams, about the specific guidance and the warning that God gave Joseph through the dreams. And Joseph being a righteous man, he believed God and he got up and did what he was told. That's probably one of the things that struck me so freshly in this reading today.
Yes, yes. God's guidance in this supernatural, mysterious way. Yeah, we talk a lot about Mary and the birth, but little about Joseph and he's just, he's a man of action. Well we're out of time. We're glad that you've joined us and next week we're going to jump into chapter three and we're going to look at John the Baptist as we get to the brink of Jesus going into public ministry and it's pretty exciting. And so join us next time here on More Than Ink. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, morethanink.org. And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. This has been a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City.
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