First Dream: Take Mary as Your Wife
Joseph would have divorced Mary when he found out she was pregnant, but God sent an angel to him in a dream, convincing him that the pregnancy was of God. Joseph went ahead with the marriage.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:20
A pregnant woman who is not married would have been terrible in the Jewish culture. Gabriel comes to Mary, who is probably just a teenager, to tell her the good news that she will have the Messiah of Israel.
Most likely, Mary’s pregnancy made people in her town avoid her. A scandal! In the Old Testament, getting pregnant before getting married was a reason to end a marriage. Joseph even thought about leaving Mary, but God told him not to.
There must have been some trouble between Mary’s family and Joseph’s. Even though the marriage was legal, having sex and getting pregnant before the wedding were still big problems. Also, the marriage contract wasn’t finished until the ceremony was over.
Joseph could do two things:
Joseph could keep the engagement going, marry Mary, and share in her shame.
Using the law as a guide, Joseph could accuse Mary of being sexually immoral and get her out of their marriage contract. A woman who committed adultery could be stoned to death.
Even with all the social and cultural effects, Mary becomes the person who brings good news.
The story of Mary shows how God uses people who don’t seem to fit into his plan to save the world. Mary didn’t care if she was ashamed or not. She still told people about how good God was in Luke 1:
After Jesus was born, God sent two more dreams.
Second dream: Take Your Family to Egypt
God told Joseph to take his family to Egypt so Herod could not kill baby Jesus.
Now when they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod intends to search for the Child in order to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet [Hosea]: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”Matthew 2:13-15
Herod went on the kill the babies, so if Joeph had remained, Jesus woould have been in danger.
Then Herod, when he realized that he had been tricked by the magi, was extremely angry, and he sent [soldiers] and put to death all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that area who were two years old and under, according to the date which he had learned from the magi. Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
She refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.”
Third Dream: Return from Egypt
The last recorded dream was to tell Joseph that Herod was dead and that he could return home.
But when 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 sought the Child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, and took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod [the Great], he was afraid to go there. Then being warned by God in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee, and went and settled in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:19-23