We are already on our 4th Christmas message. I have just got back from being 3 days away on retreat, seeking God concerning what has been a very tough year, and projecting toward the New Year 2021. I do have a message for the New Year, but I believe we have a preparation to undergo in what we are uncovering in these messages. God is revealing to us very pertinent aspects of the Christmas story, which bring out insights which will cause us to know God better. I believe that God is bringing to us a great preparation which we shall if we perceive it, shall overcome the seasons to come which may be difficult for us.
Joseph’s 1st Dream; affirmation and direction to perceive God’s work in Mary. Dream to direct.
18 uNow the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
In Matthew’s Gospel it is related that Joseph learned of the pregnancy of Mary and what would have normally have been a scandalous situation, he determined to deal with it with a great deal of sensitivity and discretion. Joseph dreamed of an angel telling him that what was growing in Mary is of God and he must receive her as his own, guarding not only Mary’s integrity and protecting God’s own work, in bringing the Redeemer. What the angel told him was that what was conceived was the Holy Spirit’s doing.
So much in the Church is in great controversy in many ways, with the pandemic, the lockdowns we see many affected by their routines altered, upheavals in great ways in families, businesses, Churches, and much is speculated, theorised. Yet just as God would use the most unqualified and most unusual it needs the “Joseph’s” who will allow the angels to speak into their dreams and confirm the purposes of God for this time. It has been that in pursuit of respectability that the Church has disbelieved the mysteries of the way God works. The Virgin womb is contrasted by Elizabeth’s barren and old womb. Two babies conceived in impossibility by natural means, yet the Holy Spirit conceived one Nazirite and one Messiah. One preparing the way for the other. Here Jesus the younger would be prepared for by the elder.
The dreams highlighted here in this message are akin to what we read in Joel 2, where the Holy Spirit defines dreams as the state we will come into as the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh. There is no distinction on who the Holy Spirit is poured out on, the word is ALL. And the fulness of that Word in Joel 2:28-31 has not been fulfilled in full measure yet.
We have had part fulfilments, Acts 2 and Acts 4, Acts 10 and numerous other examples from history. One story came to my attention was the story of Padre Pio, Catholic priest who describes the Holy Spirit coming to him in a fireball into his heart. His priesthood was notable for the miracles that he was ascribed as being a channel for. Other examples include the evangelist Reinhard Bonnke led to George Jeffrey’s home in London, for him to lay hands on a young Reinhard, who became a firebrand for the Gospel in Africa. It is exactly a year ago that he departed this life having impacted a whole continent for Christ.
When you read Luke 1 and 2, you certainly see the Holy Spirit at work in a powerful way. There is not just the 2 conceived babies, but even those who knew what God was about to do, spoke of it to each other and the Holy Spirit came upon them. I saw this aspect when I lived and ministered in Portugal. The Lord led me to see that when we cooperate with the central plans of God we come into the place where the Holy Spirit comes and causes us to draw back the veil of what God was about to do. One not so prepared could never have the kind of faith to embrace it. God was about to do away with the Temple, do away with the Jewish exclusivity in God’s covenant, and bring in the Gentiles. Joseph dreamed of the angel and obeyed, took Mary and honoured God’s work.
The angel makes reference to Isaiah 7, the promise and prophetic word Isaiah gave to Ahaz, the greatest sign of Scripture. Seems akin to another word in Isaiah 66, “Can a nation be born in a day?” Impossibilities becoming possible. This is the season we are coming into.
In the great financial crash of 2008, it was said what was impossible in economic terms happened in a period of 6 days. These happenings are commonplace when God begins a work. He looks for those who can dream His dreams and obey them.
Dream of the Magi; go back by another route, avoid Herod. Dream to disconnect.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
It seems that God used at this time this mode of communication. The Magi had inquired in Jerusalem, and Herod knowing that something extraordinary thing was taking place.
Herod had become irritated and disquieted because the big sign was there for all to see, never before such a star appeared in the sky. It must have been the extensive study of scholars in that time.
Why did God warn the Magi not to 1st return to Herod, and 2nd go by a different route? Interesting how the dream warns two fold. It is simple to interpret knowing what Herod did afterward, when we see what is the Slaughter of the Innocents story from history. The order from Herod when he felt shut out of the knowledge of where this baby King was, was to order babies of 2 years and under to be killed. The cries of the mothers even traveled back through time to Jeremiah. He prophesies about the mother in Ramah who refuses to be comforted. How powerful God predicts through the prophet such a happening! We can therefore pinpoint the birth of Jesus to 6BC, and it is interesting to note that Herod dies soon after. There must be a hidden mystery for those so discerning to discover in that God defended the death of those children with death on this evil king.
Herod was known as the Great. He is a king imposed on Judea by Rome. He tears down the Temple of Zerrubabel and takes 46 years to build the new Temple, and the Bible is silent about this. No dedication is recorded, no divine approval or visitation is given. So the thread that runs through Herod’s life is self, and his own greatness. This is not surprising when men from the east come with news of revelation that a great king had been born. The signs in the heavens had shown to all something unusual was taking place, and for this king full of his own ego would be greatly unsettling even though he looked through his house and saw that in his own line no king was born at that time. So his intent is not good, and the seed of that intent is in the Slaughter of Innocents.
We see this happening in every work of God, “Herods” abound. They are at best insecure and full of themselves. Paul calls them “enemies of the cross.” They have not applied the School of the Desert (death to self) into their lives. Their authority, their notoriety is only effective when men admire and obey. Then once God seems to be doing a work that does not include them, and they see signs of it, the first thing is do what Saul did, get agitated and “throwing their spears” at all who pass by. How many people who pray and who are used by God have been torn down by these Herods. Today after the effect of this lockdown this year, so much has come to light concerning Narcissism, and how dangerous it is in relationships. I am sure that all the signs concerning King Herod can indicate this trait. The fact that God did not want Herod seeking out the baby Jesus, because of the danger this represents, God wants none of these people, narcissists, near any new fragile work of His. He will warn those attracted by God to be participants to avoid and be led down paths far away from those who would kill the work of God. And so the MAGI return, first avoiding Herod, protecting the new work of God, and a different route, so they in preserving the work of God would themselves be preserved.
It is imperative that in the days ahead we be sensitive who we seek out as we complete our journey following the signs (the star) to God’s new thing. Not all present, even those who have knowledge of Scripture will be those invited by God to participate. The dream therefore disconnects that possibility. I would rather be prepared and obey, than be excluded from God’s new thing.
Joseph’s second dream to leave Israel for Egypt, a dream to protect
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt
Suddenly Joseph sees the angel once again in a dream. This time He alerts Joseph of immediate danger. Exposes Herod’s heart and intent. They go in darkness of night to Egypt. Jesus grows up to about 2 years to 4 years old before they return to Nazareth. God hides Jesus in the most inhospitable nation, a nation which Israel came out of, yet Jesus returns there and finds safety. God arranges safety in the most surprising places.
This dream has come to protect the Messiah from harm. I believe this is prophetic for us for 2021. I believe that God will take us to “Egypt” to hide us whilst the confusion in our “home country” reigns temporarily. It will pass. And even the prophet of old saw this flight…In fact Joseph will dream again when Herod dies, saying that those “who sought His Life have died” and so Joseph and Mary return but to Galilee. Hosea saw this coming back “Out of Egypt I called my Son.” And also the prophet said “And He shall be called a Nazarene.” So much for the understanding that nothing good came out of Nazareth, voiced by Nathaniel in Mark 1. This was a ignorance of the words of the prophets which exactly prophesied every step of Jesus’ life.
We need protection right now, and it is promised when God does a new thing. The Bible is full of these examples. Hebrews 11 says that faith is a common factor in the examples. And right now what we have been subject to in 2020 has been fear. In the new thing we shall find faith. God will do a new thing, and if we have been prepared to be participant in it, we shall know the Holy Spirit directing, protecting, disconnecting along the way.
The Christmas story therefore is about the new thing, and as we prepare for this season we must be open to how the Holy Spirit will speak to us. In dreams if need be, to bring us the direction we need to protect the work, honour the work, and avoid those who could try to kill off that work.
May we this Christmas find that our dreams bring us into the things God is preparing to do in the earth!