Joseph had somehow fallen asleep in the midst of his anger. And tossing. And turning. And replaying the conversation he had with Mary. The one where she told him she was pregnant. But it wasn’t his. Nor was it any other man’s. And during that small pocket of sleep that he found, he encountered an angel. And the message that was shared with him not only confirmed the things that Mary had desperately tried explaining. It also confirmed something else.
Joseph suddenly understood that all this. The angelic encounters and miraculous conceptions and speechless days and promises of the Messiah coming. All of it was done to fulfill the words that God spoke to a king 500 years earlier. Every detail. Every converstaion. Every choice leading to the birth that would bring God-With-Us to us. They all happened to bring the words recorded in the book of Isaiah to pass. To cause them to happen. They were rolling out the red carpet for the fulfillment of this one promise.
the LORD Himself will give you a sign
God had just finished speaking with the King of Judah, telling Ahaz of His plans to save Jerusalem. The king had been fiercely shaken up after a recent enemy attack. He was convinced that the kingdom of God’s people would lose the war ahead of them. And be overtaken. And picked apart. But God promised otherwise. And He told Ahaz to ask for a sign. It’s the words that any one would love to hear. You want to see the writing in the clouds? How about a ticker-tape of your answer in the kitchen? Or maybe words spoken through a beloved pet? Something? Anything? What do you want to see? I’ll do it for you! But Ahaz refused to ask for a sign. A decision that was ultimately rooted in the fact that he simply didn’t believe God.
“Ok,” God said. “If you won’t ask for a sign, I’ll just give you one. When I say that I will not destroy Jerusalem, I mean ever. And this is the sign whereby you will know.”
It’s interesting that Zacharias asked for the whereby sign and was rendered speechless because of his unbelief. And Ahaz refused to ask for the whereby sign because he refused to believe, but God gave him a sign anyway. He had to share His secret. To give His people hope for the next 500 years. Even if the king refused to believe it. And the sign He gave was the same thing Gabriel shared with Mary. And also with Joseph. The story we now know so well. And have heard so many times, we can practically say it with our eyes closed:
the virgin will conceive and bear a son
And when she does, she will call His marking characteristic, His reputation, and His glory: Summit-of-a-Tree-Immanuel-Wonderful-Counselor-Mighty-God-Everlasting-Father-Prince-of-Peace-Great-Son-of-the-Highest. And for the every day? He would simply be called Jesus.
And as quickly as the angel appeared, he was gone. And Joseph woke up. His mind calmed. The anger subsided. Fully resolved as to what he was to do. With Mary and, ultimately, with Jesus. He would welcome her (and Him) into his life. And his heart. And love as his own. And he would carry out the plan that the angel had given him. Exactly as he was told. Stepping into a role and a calling that had been uniquely assigned to him and created for him.
Joseph fulfilled his word to Mary, taking her as his wife and still maintaining her virginity until she birthed that holy Babe. And when he fulfilled his word, God began the fulfillment of His promise that was 500 years in the making.