He walked with Jesus before Jesus was born.
And then the time came when this man slid one finger and then another into one tiny hand and then another, lifting his one-year-old son to stand on wobbly little feet. The man watched that child take his first step—the first step of baby Jesus.
Joseph would have walked each day with his two-year-old and then three-year-old son. The man God chose to father our Lord would have shown his four-year-old, and then six-year-old, and then eight-year-old Child a path of holiness.
Many think there’s little to know about Joseph, but of all the people who ever lived, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit trusted Joseph more than anyone. How can I be so sure?
Evil came for baby Jesus. Satan planned an attack on the holy Infant, believing Joseph would waiver. But in that sudden, harrowing moment, Joseph follows God, asking no questions. Here’s what happened.
It must have been a happy time. The Magi are in Bethlehem with wealth for Joseph’s baby. Life is good!
But evil is lurking.
Satan waits for the Magi to leave and then enters the heart of a powerful and depraved man. That’s when God immediately sends an angel into the dark room where Joseph is sleeping. And the angel slips into the new father’s dreams.
“Get up,” the angel says, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt … Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13
Joseph awakens, but now what? Prayer?That’s important. Right?
But the angel said, “Get up … escape …”
Scripture tells us what happens next: “[Joseph] got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left ...” Matthew 2:14
Joseph completely trusts God. He grabs his family and runs.
But what if our Lord’s father had waited a bit, just to get packed. Would angels have seen danger and taken the family from the city? Is that possible?
Not only is it possible, that’s what happened in a famous Bible story. Think for a moment and you’ll remember.
Okay, I’ll give you a hint: Fire and brimstone.
If that brings to mind Sodom and Gomorrah, you’re right!
Abraham has journeyed to the Promised Land with his nephew Lot. Ultimately, they are wealthy, with many herds and flocks, and need to separate. Lot chooses the fertile area around the Jordan River. But the Jordan Valley is also home to the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 13:1-13
Lot dwells in his tent for awhile, but eventually moves to Sodom, living there with his wife and two daughters. One day, travelers arrive at the city and Lot invites them to stay with him. But the townspeople learn of the visitors. The men of the city gather at Lot’s doorstep, demanding to have relations with the visitors.
Lot goes outside, telling them not to do this evil thing. Instead, he offers them his daughters.
What a dad.
But the men of Sodom are determined and threaten Lot. Immediately, the travelers pull him inside the house and Lot discovers that they’re angels. Lot learns he must leave quickly and when he hesitates, the angels grasp Lot’s hand, his wife’s hand, and his two daughters’ hands, leading them from the city to safety. God then rains down fire and brimstone, destroying the valley. Genesis 19:1-16
Lot wasn’t Joseph. Lot was a bad father who never should have chosen Sodom. And Lot’s children suffer for it. In fact, if you keep following this story, you’ll see how depraved his daughters become. It’s awful. Genesis 19:30-38
My father used to say to me, “See the father? That’s the son in 20 years.”
He believed that children are a reflection of their parents. My father was a man of great character and my brother was his reflection.
That doesn’t mean your children cannot overcome your poor life choices, but that’s just it, they’ll have to overcome them.
Examine your life. Every day your children look to you. Choose what you want to pass on to them.
If you can only have one gift for Father’s Day ask for this: That your family read the Bible together. Choose a great story. Pray together. Sing a hymn of praise. Ask for that gift every night.
Remember that you are the example, just as Joseph was for Jesus and Lot was for his daughters.
Every day is Father’s Day.
Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved. The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at Letters@RAMathews.com or on Twitter @RA_Mathews.