Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Matthew 2:13-23 Guidance by Wisdom & Revelation

KEY TEXT: Matthew 2:19-23 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

KEY THOT: Divine guidance is an interaction between revelation and wisdom. In the case of Joseph, he relied on both divine revelation that comes in the form of dreams ("an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph... and being warned in a dream...") and also common-sense wisdom ("when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.") If we are submitted to God's purpose and will, we have the assurance that He will lead us through wisdom derived from commonsense and scripture and revelation like dreams and visions. Joseph used common-sense wisdom with regard to where to bring his family after he was told that Herod had died. But knowing Archelaus' reputation for tyranny, murder and instability, he decided it would be foolish to go to Judea where he reigned. Instead, Joseph decided to move far away from Judea to the northern district of Galilee. In fact, he chose to raise his family in relative obscurity in a small and quiet village called Nazareth.

Paul prays for the Ephesian church "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him" (Ephesians 1:17). Wisdom is both a gift and a fruit--and it's primarily derived from study of Scriptures. Wisdom is based on our knowledge God and his general will for us. This knowledge is not specific to any situation but gives us a general direction in making decisions that are consistent with God's way and will.

Often, this is general knowledge is insufficient to make specific decisions. Here is where revelation comes in. For specific decisions involving people and places, we need divine revelation. For example, in seeking divine guidance for a job or marriage partner, we need wisdom to know God's general will concerning what is the appropriate job or life partner but we may not know which specific job or partner to take. While some believers have adopted the "trial and error" approach, we could save ourselves a lot of trials and errors if we wait for God's revelation and not rush ahead from one option to the next. And both wisdom and revelation come from the Spirit who alone grants us spiritual wisdom as we study Scripture and supernatural revelation as we wait upon him.

However, divine wisdom is unlike worldly wisdom for it is heavenly, not earthly: "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17-18). Divine wisdom is not ego-driven, carnal or ruthless but pure, peace-seeking, gentle, reasonable, merciful, impartial and sincere. And peace, not division, is the outcome of divine wisdom: "And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:18). One way to know that we have wisdom from above is to look at the fruits of our decision: does it sow peace or division?

May the Lord grant us wisdom and revelation of the Spirit as we enter into the new year of 2017.

Father, guide us with wisdom and revelation of Your Spirit in this coming new year. Amen.

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