People Jesus Met Part 1: Mary and Joseph – Waiting on God’s Timing
This study is focused on the teachings of the Lord that abound in the life of Christ. This first study looks at the concept of believers in Christ holding to the timing that the Lord has for our lives. This timing is tied to His will. Thus, the point we hold to when seeking the Lord is to know Him fully so that we can listen for His call in relation to His will and His timing for that will in our lives. These are the notes that I took and the scriptures that I looked up while listening to this sermon. The pastor is Lon Solomon.
To begin, this study will look at a piece of scripture from Luke. In this passage we see an interesting set of facts. First, out of all the things that the Lord could have highlighted in the early years of Christ’s life, He chooses this event to pass down to believers through the ages. Second, in this passage we see that followers of Christ can properly discern and understand the Lord’s will but get the timing for the application of that will wrong. In a sense, we see the idea of getting the right job, but getting it at the wrong time. Consider the following passages from Luke (Luke 2).
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “ Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “ A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
This passage points out that at the age of 12, Christ knew the will of the Father and therefore had the right job. However, this passage also points out that he returned with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth and continued living. The next time we see Christ in the scriptures He is not 12, but 30. The point being that 18 years had passed since the time that He was in the temple and Mary and Joseph went back looking for Him. In Christ we see that He had discerned the will of the Father at 12, but the timing was not right until He was 30. There are other examples of this in the scriptures that highlight this principle. Consider the following that Stephen lays out in Acts when he is speaking for the council. The following comes from Acts 7.
The high priest said, “Are these things so?”
And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘ LEAVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND COME INTO THE LAND THAT I WILL SHOW YOU.’ Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM. But God spoke to this effect, that his DESCENDANTS WOULD BE ALIENS IN A FOREIGN LAND, AND THAT THEY WOULD BE ENSLAVED AND MISTREATED FOR FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. ‘AND WHATEVER NATION TO WHICH THEY WILL BE IN BONDAGE I MYSELF WILL JUDGE,’ said God, ‘AND AFTER THAT THEY WILL COME OUT AND SERVE ME IN THIS PLACE.’ And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
“The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.
“Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until THERE AROSE ANOTHER KING OVER EGYPT WHO KNEW NOTHING ABOUT JOSEPH. It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’ But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘ WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND JUDGE OVER US? YOU DO NOT MEAN TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN YESTERDAY, DO YOU?’ At this remark, MOSES FLED AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he became the father of two sons.
“After forty years had passed, AN ANGEL APPEARED TO HIM IN THE WILDERNESS OF MOUNT Sinai, IN THE FLAME OF A BURNING THORN BUSH. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘ I AM THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. BUT THE LORD SAID TO HIM, ‘ TAKE OFF THE SANDALS FROM YOUR FEET, FOR THE PLACE ON WHICH YOU ARE STANDING IS HOLY GROUND. I HAVE CERTAINLY SEEN THE OPPRESSION OF MY PEOPLE IN EGYPT AND HAVE HEARD THEIR GROANS, AND I HAVE COME DOWN TO RESCUE THEM; COME NOW, AND I WILL SEND YOU TO EGYPT.’
“This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘ GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, SAYING TO AARON, ‘MAKE FOR US GODS WHO WILL GO BEFORE US; FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT—WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.’ At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘ IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL? YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF THE GOD ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP. I ALSO WILL REMOVE YOU BEYOND BABYLON.’
“Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:
‘HEAVEN IS MY THRONE,
AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET;
WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?’ says the Lord,
‘OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE?
‘WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?’
“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
As Stephen speaks to the council in this passage we see additional examples of waiting on the Lord’s timing and not our own. To break some of these down from this passage consider this:
1. Abraham was instructed and led by the Lord to move from his place of residence to the land that He would show him. Further, Abraham was also given great promises that would be fulfilled LONG after Abraham’s passing. The Lord’s timing was not in Abraham’s time. Were they fulfilled? Absolutely! However, the point to hammer home is they were fulfilled according to the Lord’s will and His timing. That is the perfection that was and is borne out of every aspect of the Lord’s work and it requires patience and humility to seek the Lord’s will and then wait on His perfect timing to carry out that will.
2. Joseph was in a similar situation. He was very aware of the Lord’s will but the Lord’s timing was not immediate. Consider that Joseph was in prison for 13 years before he was raised by the Lord to be the 2nd in command for all of Egypt.
3. Moses was aware of the Lord’s will in relation to delivering the Jews from bondage in Egypt. HOWEVER, Moses was 40 years early and the result was rejection by the Jews. 40 years later, the Lord’s timing was perfect and Moses returned to lead them out in the perfect will AND timing of the Lord.
These examples, as laid out by Stephen, show again the importance of the unity between the Lord’s will and His timing. Further, there are other examples in the scriptures that illustrate this principle as well. Let’s take a look at two of them.
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.
Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol, that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.”
When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘ If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.”
And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “ Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What would you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time. And I said to the king, “If it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go.” And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.(From Nehemiah 1 and Nehemiah 2)
Nehemiah had become convinced that God’s will for his life was to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. However, notice that instead of rushing out in fleshly impetuousness, Nehemiah laid it before the Lord in prayer BEFORE doing anything about what he understood to be the Lord’s will. After waiting for the Lord’s perfect timing (6 months), King Artaxerxes turned to Nehemiah and asked Nehemiah what his troubles were. Once Nehemiah told Artaxerxes the troubles of his heart, the king provided Nehemiah with everything he would need to complete the task the Lord had given to Nehemiah. Again, the Lord’s alignment of Will and Timing resulted in an outcome that was more fulfilling than anything that Nehemiah could have produced in his own efforts.
Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.
And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. (Ruth 1:1-18)
Now the thing to take into consideration at this point in the story is that a widowed woman, at this time, was a death sentence in many ways. This was more so the case when that woman had no other family remaining to live with. In this case, both Naomi and Ruth are widows. Now Ruth could have gone off and done her own thing. She could have sought a new husband or some other manner of taking care of her own needs in her own strengths and will. However, had she done that, she would have been robbed of the blessing of Boaz and the part she would have in the lineal descendants to David and ultimately Christ.
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Now these are the generations of Perez: to Perez was born Hezron, and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram, Amminadab, and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon, and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed, and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David. (Ruth 4:13-22)
As followers of Christ, every single one of us struggles with the same conflict that Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Nehemiah, and many others struggled with. The conflict between OUR timing and the LORD’s timing. Many of us have planned to be married or parents or have a great job or be financially secure by this point in our lives. However, in the Lord’s timing these things or others have not happened. Therefore, as followers of Christ what do we do in light of this?
The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)
The world view of true men and women of God understand the preceding passages. They understand that the Lord has a better plan and better timing for getting us to where we need to be than we could ever produce. In this, these followers of the Lord submit to the Lord’s will and timing even though it may not be comfortable or make any sense to them at the time. In short true men and women of the Lord are confident in:
- The Lord’s will for their lives is perfect
- The Lord’s timing for their lives is also perfect
The natural question that any of us might ask is “How do I know what the Lord’s will is, and how do I know when the Lord’s timing is?” There is a three part answer to this question.
“How do I know when the Lord is telling me when to act and when to wait?”
1. God often uses circumstances around us to make it clear that we are to wait.
Remember how Joseph had the dreams of the Lord’s will, but the Lord placed him in jail for 13 years saying “Not now.” David knew he would be king but God stuck him in caves out in the wilderness for 7 years, using circumstances to say “Not yet.” Moses was in the wilderness for 40 years using circumstances to say “Not yet.” This is applicable to that new job we did not get or why we cannot have children or any other thing. When the Lord uses circumstances to indicate that now is not the time, it is imperative that we LISTEN and not take matters into our own hands.
2. God often uses people in authority over us to make it clear that NOW is not the time.
This is precisely how God pointed this out to the Lord Jesus at the age of 12. He used His parents to say come home and continue on. Now is not the time.
3. Most often, the signal as to whether the Lord’s timing is now, will come on our knees as a direct communication from the Lord Himself to our heart.
This is what the Lord promises to do.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8)
Following these principles, the natural question might be “How does God communicate this to me? How do I know?” The answer is that it is different for each individual follower of Christ. That is why it is important to have quiet time with the Lord every day. Being in prayer and in His word everyday…cultivating that close relationship with Him is what develops our sensitivity to His voice. This is how we come to know His voice that says “wait” and the one that says “go.”
We have learned that with God that timing is everything. When we are praying for guidance in some situation, the question we need to ask is not only “have I discerned God’s will” but also “have I discerned God’s timing.” It can be said that if you are in doubt then it is prudent to wait. This is true because we can all recount times where we did not wait and the outcome was disasterous. Further, the lack of an immediate resolution or guidance from the Lord should not be interpreted as the Lord ignoring us. The Lord often puts one party in neutral while He puts everything else into place so that he can marry the two in a perfect alignment that yields a blessing beyond our comprehension. This is what He did with Moses, with Ruth, with David, with Joseph and many others. Therefore, if the Lord is asking you to wait it is smart to listen and to walk by faith because we want…we NEED the Lord’s best. Consider that when He finally says “go” everything will be so clicked in that it will amaze you how perfect that situation is. This is why David said:
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)