How the life of a newborn baby was protected
Posted in , Dec 20, 2021
When I think of Christmas, I think of angels. The angel that appeared to Mary, the angels that came to the shepherds, the angel that told Joseph not to call off his marriage plans when he learned that she was with child.
But wait a minute. Take that last one. Look again. The angel that spoked to Joseph, explaining just Who had fathered this child Mary was carrying and what that boy should be named, that angel appeared to Joseph in a dream.
Dreams. By my count, there are five dreams that kept the Christmas story going and preserved the life of that newborn baby.
Start with Joseph. He was disconcerted that his betrothed was with child when he knew he hadn’t touched her and instead of making a big to-do about it, surely giving the gossips of Nazareth something to gab about, he was going to quietly break things off.
Then the angel came to him in the dream. And he did exactly what the angel told him to do. We don’t know a lot about Joseph, but it says a lot about his spiritual side that he could receive such a dream and honor it completely. Would I do the same? Would you?
The next dream that comes to Joseph is a warning of Herod’s jealous wrath after the baby is born. This child’s life is in danger. The Judean king has learned that there is a king—born in the most humble circumstances—who could usurp his power.
In one of the most horrifying incidents in the Bible, Herod is willing to murder all the infant boys in Bethlehem—the Slaughter of the Innocents—to rid himself of this heavenly pretender.
But thanks to the warning that comes in Joseph’s dream, the couple goes to Egypt—just like the Joseph of the Technicolor Dreamcoat once did—until the coast is clear.
There Joseph has a third dream letting him know that Herod is dead. It’s safe to return. You probably don’t remember his fourth dream (I didn’t). It’s a bit subtler. Warning him to avoid Herod’s son who is now in power, going straight back to Nazareth.
Now for that fifth dream. This one comes to the wise men and once again concerns Herod. They had seen him on their way to Bethlehem, following the star and the predictions of a newborn king.
The ever crafty Herod told them to come back his way and tell him what they had seen—making no indication of his jealous rage. We don’t know exactly which wise men had the dream. But the message is clear. Go back to the East a different way than how you’ve come.
What I find significant in all these instances is how God uses dreams to ensure that the divine plans are fulfilled. These men had dreams and honored them. Can we not do the same?