Can God trust you? Can God trust you to keep hold of faith even when you don’t know what is going on?
Our lives are not simple. They are not run like a GPS in the car telling us the quickest and easiest route to take. There seems to be many routes and sometimes the way God leads us down can be puzzling.
“After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.” (Matthew 2 v 19-22)
It doesn’t matter where you are, God can speak to you – even in Egypt.
Herod is dead. It feels like the whole world is relieved. In his 36 year reign there was hardly a day went by that someone wasn’t sentenced to death. The Roman-Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote of what happened at the time and you can easily access this. When Herod died, there was a fight between his sons on who would be king. In an earlier will, Herod had given the title to Antipas, but then changed the will to Archelaus. It was to be settled in Rome before Caesar who in the end compromised by making Antipas Herod over Galilee and answerable only to Rome, whereas Archelaus was not given the title Herod but ‘Ethnarch’ meaning ‘National leader’ over Samaria and Judea. But whilst all that shenanigans was taking place in Rome, there was uprisings in Jerusalem. Three would-be heroes who all claimed the title ‘king of the jews’ formed guerrilla armies and ransacked towns that were pro-Roman. Though they looked for divine intervention none came and they were all killed. Archelaus made his mark by appointing his own High Priest, Joezer, for the Temple. Jerusalem pilgrims from across the world became involved and protested against this decision and 3,000 were killed on one day.
Why is that all important? It is because of the verses we read.
They are returning home. They were both delighted. This is a breakthrough that God has given them. A window of opportunity to go back and start a life there. Can you imagine the conversation they had on the way back? Where shall we live? ‘Let’s live near Jerusalem where the Temple is’, ‘what about Bethlehem?’ ‘I wonder who will replace Herod? Thank God that He got rid of that evil wicked king!’ It was always going to be Judea, they had spent 2-3 years there already and they knew it well. One place they were not prepared to go was their hometown Nazareth. Facing the stigma of their story was not where they believed they should start their lives out of exile.
But as they near Israel they begin to hear of what has been happening. They hear of what we read from Josephus and more. Joseph is told about this new leader called Archelaus who sounded worse than his father.
Do you understand what it is to walk into a puzzle? You see God move and then it looks like He didn’t or it just gets worse? You get healed and then it looks like the healing is lost? You get provision and then it looks like it wasn’t God who provided?
Why didn’t God reveal the whole situation back in Egypt? In exile he holds back the successor to Herod and the stories of what was taking place. Sometimes it appears that we are not ready to receive all the information.
Do you know what that is like?
“But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod he was afraid to go there”
It is a situation of being tempted to believe that God hasn’t done anything in the first place, it was just your mind in overdrive, you read into what wasn’t there.
BUT is the greatest enemy to your obedience. It is usually followed by FEAR. That pincer moment usually causes us to go nowhere. We have stopped moving forward and we don’t know what to do.
We know these verses really well, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
If this story is describing you then it would seem that the best thing you can do is to wait. The next move is God’s. Wait for Him. Keep trustworthy. God will move again.