Advent 2. Joseph wondered why?

On the second Sunday of Advent, the Peace candle is lit. Some traditions call it the Faith candle. Like the first candle, it is also purple and is often referred to as the ‘Bethlehem Candle’.

Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7


Joseph, husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus Christ appears only briefly in Scripture. Yet during his brief appearance he teaches us some important lessons about being a true follower of Christ.

Try to imagine what it must have been like to discover that the woman you to are intending to marry has become pregnant. And she claims that she had become pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

Though Joseph did find this story difficult to accept, the power of his love for Mary overcame the confusion in his mind. So out of love he decided to quietly call off the wedding. (Matthew 1:19 CEV)

God came to Mary’s rescue and sent an angel to confirm that Mary’s story was true. Only then did Joseph begin to experience peace of mind.

Truly our hearts will never be healthy and at peace unless we learn to accept, receive and abide in God’s unfailing love through total obedience. Share on X


In several places we read that Mary wondered at the things that were happening. (Luke 1:29; 2:19) Joseph must also have wondered and had a number of ‘Why?’ questions.

Why didn’t the Holy Spirit impregnate Mary after our marriage?

Legally Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death for being unfaithful to her betrothal vow. Instead he obeyed the angel’s instruction to Go ahead and marry her.


Eventually, when the dust had settled, a government decree required them to make a long tedious journey at the height of Mary’s pregnancy.

Why Lord, Why did Caesar Augustus’ decree have to coincide with the end of Mary’s pregnancy? 

Joseph and Mary made that five-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem only to discover that all available accommodation had been taken up because of the census. They ended up in a stable amongst the domestic animals.

It was probably a cold, damp, dark, dirty and unhealthy cave, which served as a stable for the innkeeper, as well as for his guest’s donkeys. A hollowed out feeding trough or manger, was the only available cradle for the newborn child.

 Why Bethlehem? And a stable of all places ?


Once the census was over Joseph was able to get more comfortable lodgings in Bethlehem. But their peace of mind was disturbed yet again.

Just short of their infant son’s second birthday they were visited by the Magi from the east with amazing gifts for the one born to be king – gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Their visitors had no sooner departed when Joseph was warned by an angel of Herod’s assassination plot to kill their child and they were forced to flee to Egypt until after Herod’s death.

Why was Herod’s scheme not thwarted before he could implement it?


Though Joseph’s involvement in the nativity story was a brief one, he is a model to us of obedience.

  • When and angel gave him a message from God in a dream to marry Mary he was ready to obey.
  • When Jesus’ life was threatened by Herod’s assassination plot, he had another dream involving an angel and he immediately packed up his wife and son and headed for Egypt.
  • Yet a third time after Herod’s death he was instructed in a dream to return with his family to Galilee in Israel.

How often do we pay any attention to our dreams?

Joseph experienced peace each time he obeyed God’s warning.

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him. (John 14:23 NET)

Joseph’s love for Mary and obedience to the will of God played a major role in the Christmas story.

In closing I invite you to sing along with the carol ‘Oh little town of Bethlehem.”




God said it. You’d better believe it.

Habakkuk 2:4 GNB

“Those who are evil will not survive, but those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.’ “

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


  • Build a boat in the desert?
  • Kill the son I gave you in answer to prayer?

How much sense is there in either of these statements?

Yet God said it. And these men believed.

The writer to the Hebrews introduces us to several people whose lives were open to God.

Heroes who were faithful to God

Here in Habakkuk we read:

“those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.’

Or as .the Contemporary English Version puts it:

Only those who live by faith are acceptable to…” God

If we turn to Hebrews chapter 11, we can read a whole list of heroes of faith. These people had no real reason for believing what God had promised them. Their trust was based on the fact that God had said it, so they believed it. 

In Hebrews 11: 6 we read, “…without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him.”

When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses. Ken Blanchard Share on X

Let’s take a look at two of those heroes.

 Noah was faithful to God

“Because Noah had faith, he was warned about something that had not yet happened. He obeyed and built a boat that saved him and his family.” (Hebrews 11:7)

  • Just think about this instruction for a moment. Think about all this involved.

“So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.” (Genesis 6: 13-14 NIV) 

Living Faith 

Bear in mind that this boat (ark) was no small project.  It needed to be large enough to accommodate Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives, plus a representation of every breed of animal. Robert Pollock, a retired minister has estimated that “it would take nearly one and a half football fields to equal the Ark’s length.“(approx 138 metres) . It was also to be three stories high (about 14 metres), and approximately 23 metres wide.

We don’t know whether Noah and his family had ever experienced rain before. Numerous rivers and regular dew provided sufficient water for their needs. However, when Noah was warned, “I’m about to flood the earth with water and destroy every living thing that breathes” (Genesis 6:17 ISV) this must have been a mind-blowing concept for his whole family to take in.

It’s also worth considering that many of the people whom God was planning to wipe off the face of the earth would have been relatives of Noah and his wife. 

Let’s give this more thought

  • If you were in this situation, and you’d heard that God was about to destroy most of mankind, would you keep quiet? Or would you try to convince those whom you love to get themselves right with God? If possible, would you try to figure out how to get them on board your already crowded ark?
  • Today, we face a global pandemic that threatens to wipe out mankind.  I don’t for a minute suggest God has sent this deadly pestilence on our world, although we don’t actually know that for sure. But God has, in His mercy, allowed scientists to develop a vaccine to counteract it. We’ve also been issued with many safety protocols to try and halt the spread of the lethal virus.
  • Every one of us living today faces an even surer threat to our safety. We will all one day die, not necessarily from Covid. 
  • What are you doing to try and get others into a position of safety? 

We read of how Noah and his sons started to build a sea-going vessel in the middle of a desert. Can you imagine the ridicule they must have received from their neighbours? 

  • What sort of tools do you think they used? Electricity was only brought into use in the 1800s. Have some fun thinking of the kind of instruments the Noah family may have used. 

According to Biblical research, it is estimated that it took 40 – 50 years at least to build that ark. (Robert Gibbs – 47 years Research and Application of Theocratic principles)

Another source claims, “The construction of the actual ark took Noah and his family about 76 years to build according to scripture.” (Dennis Cybulski – Bible student of 47 years)

All told this was a lengthy and extremely difficult project.

  • Think of some of the difficulties involved, apart from the lack of power tools. See how many other problems you can think of.

Abraham was also faithful to God

Another hero worth looking at is Abraham. His active faith is demonstrated by the way he was prepared to leave his home and extended family and travel to a foreign land . . . all because God said so. (Hebrews 11:8)

His faith is also seen in the way he believed God when he was told He was going to send him a son. Despite both he and Sarah, his wife, being elderly, God said they would have a son. So he believed it. (Hebrews 11:11,12)

The supreme test of Abraham’s faith came when he was told to sacrifice his son to God. (Hebrews 11:17)

  • List some of the reactions Abraham must have experienced when he heard this instruction.
  • How would you react if God told you to give up something which you know He gave you as an answer to prayer?

Abraham was obedient because he believed God. And somehow, God would work it out.

God had promised him that through this son he, Abraham, would become the father of many nations.

God had said it. So Abraham believed. (Genesis 22:8)

There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when convenient. When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses. Ken Blanchard – The One Minute Manager

Living a life that is faithful to God

Living a life of faith is open to all who have put their trust in Jesus. It involves us living with the faith that God is true to His Word.

  • A question worth asking whenever we step out in a new direction is, Who wants us to do this? Is it our own selfish desire? Or our partner? Are we following our peers? Or has God told us to do it. If it is God who has said do it, we can be certain of its success. Even if we don’t understand how. 

God does not suggest we turn our backs on the world. To the contrary, He encourages us to obey governments, to consider our neighbours, to respect one another. But He does tell us to have a right outlook on the things of the world.

“those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.” Habakkuk 2:4

As we step out in faith we are able to live out the words of scripture in our day to day lives.

If God has said it—we can believe it.

“Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.” (2 Timothy 3:16 CEV)

If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.



The Dividing Line of Faith

Habakkuk 2:4 CEV

“I, the LORD, refuse to accept anyone who is proud. Only those who live by faith are acceptable to me.”

Photo by Cameron Yartz from Pexels

Many years ago, I watched an episode in the TV series, “Touched by an angel.”

For those of you who have not watched this series, a team of angels comprising Tess, Monica, Andrew and sometimes Raphael, feature in the stories. In the film which I’m referring to, as I remember the story, this team of four were ministering to a group of girls at a camp. Each of the girls at camp was there because she was an AIDS victim.

Within the group, there were four close friends who couldn’t take the uncertainty of not knowing how much longer they had to live. So they entered into a pact to die together rather than await their deaths as a result of the disease.

On the night of their planned suicide, Raphael sang a lullaby. It turned out to be one familiar to one of the girls. Her mother used to sing it to her when she was a child. That girl decided at that point that she did not want to commit suicide.

Monica and Andrew then turned to the other three. They tried to get them to choose life rather than death.

The dividing faith line

Eventually, Monica drew a line between the angels and the girl that had drawn close to them, and the other three remaining girls. She pointed out that to remain on their side of the line meant death, but that if they stepped over the line to the angel’s side, they would live.

To remain on their side of the line would entail taking things into their own hands, out of line with God’s appointed time for their death. They would deprive themselves of the future that God had mapped out for them.

One by one the three girls stepped over the line and chose God’s will for their future.

The need to live by faith

In Habakkuk 2:4, the Lord makes it clear to Habakkuk. Only those who live by faith are acceptable to Him.

It is a hard lesson to understand, but if we do not put our faith in God, if we choose to stand on the other side of His dividing line, we are choosing death. Eternal death.

All the inhabitants of planet earth are divided into two groups. We are either standing on the side that follows the ways of the world, and reject God’s gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Or we are on the side of God’s blessing, having put our faith in Jesus with the promise of eternal life.

Like those girls in the story, we ae given the opportunity to choose eternal life while we are still alive. Once we die, it is too late.

“…know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”                             (Galatians 2:16)

We can base the meaning of life on what the politicians, poets, philosophers, and scientists promise us. Or we can base life on what God tells us in His Word, the need to live by faith. These are the only two choices open to us.

God tells us, “..the righteous will live by his faith.” Not “may live”; “can live” or even “should live” but “will live.”
Our relationship with God is based on faith. This does not mean we ignore what the scientists and governments are telling us. But ultimately, our faith is in He who controls life and death.

We enjoy saving faith by putting our trust in Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.

What is Faith?

  • How would you define ‘faith’?

Faith is simply taking God at His Word and relying on it. But it involves believing what God says, and acting upon it, simply because He said it.

  • What really governs the direction that your life is taking right now?
  • Are you perhaps relying on the learning, skills and abilities that you have gained through the years? God would not have you ignoring all these things. After all, He made it possible for you to gain them. He gave you the intellect and abilities to make wise decisions. Anything less than that will not bring honour to God. But do you continue to ask Him before making decisions? Do you step out in faith, to do what you believe is His will for your life.

What really matters is not what the world has to offer, but living out our lives according to the principles that God has outlined for us in His Word.

What he thinks is what he really is. Proverbs 23:7b Good News Bible Share on X

Stepping out in faith

  • Do you need to step over the dividing line from the world’s side to God’s side?

The process is as simple as ABC:

ACCEPT that you are a sinner – “All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” (Romans 3:23 CEV)

BELIEVE that God sent His Son into this world to rescue you from the punishment of sin – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NIV)  Jesus made this astounding claim – “I am the way, the truth, and the life! Without me, no one can go to the Father.” (John 14:6 CEV)

CONFESS  that your life has not been committed to Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord. Ask for His forgiveness: “…if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” (1 John 1:9 CEV)

DEDICATE the rest of your life to God as your Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord and to the Holy Spirit as your teacher, guide and the one who gives you power over our enemy the devil. Jesus said, “Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be found guilty. He has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24 NIrV)

If you’d like to chat about crossing the dividing line, I’d love to write to you and pray with you. Email me on this address, and I’ll get back to you.

Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. (2 Peter 3:18 CEV)


If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.


How does Habakkuk react to devastating news?

Let’s start off today by thinking about how we react in the face of any devastating news or calamity.

What is your first reaction? Now let’s see Habakkuk react to God’s devastating news.

Habakkuk 1:12 CEV

“Holy LORD God, mighty rock, you are eternal, and we are safe from death. You are using those Babylonians to judge and punish others.”

These words remind me of the solid rock Jesus taught about in this parable: 

They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete” (Luke 6:48-49 NIV).

Photo by Mike from Pexels

How did Habakkuk React? 

As we look at Habakkuk’s reaction, let’s think for a moment about what confusing circumstances are throwing you into turmoil.

We all experience those times in our lives when we are confronted by situations that we really don’t know how to handle. Sometimes, we question how and why God has allowed these things to touch our lives. Perhaps, we ask “Why did God have to take my spouse/child/sibling?” It’s not wrong to ask those questions. God knows they’re in your mind, so speak them out to Him. Just always remember that He is God … and He does have a plan, and it’s guaranteed to be the best plan.

In this verse, we read how Habakkuk reacts to the perplexing revelations that we read of in verses 5 to 11— “I am going to do something that you will not believe when you hear about it (v5). I am bringing the Babylonians to power, those fierce, restless people (v6). They spread fear and terror (v7). Their horses are faster than leopards…They come swooping down like eagles attacking their prey.(v 8). “Their armies advance in violent conquest,… Their captives are as numerous as grains of sand (v9). No fortress can stop them—they pile up earth against it and capture it (v10) Then they sweep on like the wind and are gone. (v11)”  (Habakkuk 1:5-11 GNB)

Here, the prophet openly declares his confidence in the Lord. “Holy LORD God, mighty rock, you are eternal, and we are safe from death.”

Like Habakkuk, perhaps now is a good time to acknowledge afresh that your future is actually in God’s hands. Take your time. I’ll wait. 

Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask 'Why not?' George Barnard Shaw Share on X

What caused Habakkuk to react in this way?

Although the prophet could not fully understand God’s thinking, he nevertheless expresses his complete faith and trust in Him. Habakkuk was convinced that although many Judaens would die under Babylonian attack, Judah would not be completely annihilated. God was in control. 

The only certainty we have in life is that we will die physically, whether saints or unrepentant sinners. But, praise God! We who have put our faith in Jesus can be sure that “We are safe from spiritual death.”


Because as we put our trust in Jesus, He assures us that none who have opened their lives to Him will ever experience spiritual death. By God’s Grace, we have been quickened by the Holy Spirit, and upon our physical death, our spirits will be united with our Lord in glory. Praise God indeed!

Under God’s direction, Habakkuk came to see that the Babylonian role was to correct, and not annihilate, God’s people.

Why do the innocent also have to suffer?

In the home:

Those of us who are parents or any who have cared for children, at some stage have probably encountered situations where the kids have gotten up to some form of mischief and we have not been able to pinpoint the real culprit.

  • Have you been there? Done that?
  • How did you deal with such a situation?

When our three were growing up, this happened so often that eventually we devised a scheme whereby we created a fourth “child” code-named “Mr. Nobody”. Each month, we gave each child pocket money which we “banked” in a notebook. All four! Each time none of the three owned up to a crime, we put the blame on Mr. Nobody, and he lost some of his funds. At the end of the month, each of our children received whatever was still in their “bank account” – and all that belonged to Mr. Nobody was split between the three. Suddenly, Mr. Nobody seemed to fade away as the children learned to take responsibility for their actions.

At school:

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t work in a school situation. When children are disobedient at school, and the chief culprit doesn’t own up, the entire class is often kept in or punished. That’s just how it works. Kids react by crying, “That’s not fair!” And no, it’s not fair. But it’s life. 

In a nation:

If it doesn’t work in the classroom, it certainly won’t work for an entire nation. Sadly, sometimes God sees a need to punish His children, and some of those who are innocent also get hurt in the process. There is also the possibility that the problems you are facing are God’s means of getting you to admit your own disobedience. Perhaps they are part of God’s disciplining process to help you fall in line with His plans—His good plans—for your future.

How should God’s children react to discipline?

The writer to the Hebrews has this advice to God’s children, “When the Lord punishes you, don’t make light of it, and when he corrects you, don’t be discouraged. The Lord corrects the people he loves and disciplines those he calls his own.” (Hebrews 12:5b,6 CEV)

Despite the bad news of God’s intention to punish Judah via the Babylonians, Habakkuk still could acknowledge God’s sovereignty:

“…You are eternal, and we are safe from death. You are using those Babylonians to judge and punish others.'”

Is there something happening in your life where you cannot understand what the Lord is up? Perhaps you need to try and look beyond the problem to the rock of ages and give God thanks and praise that He is indeed in control, and is working our your life for good—even if you don’t understand.

Is there a particular problem area that you would like prayer for?

Please share this as a comment so that I may pray for you.


If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.