Joseph: A Man of Quiet Obedience

Published by Brian Hershey on

Something struck me the other day as I was reading the first two chapters of Matthew.

Joseph’s quiet, unassuming obedience during a time of mystifying circumstances commends him as someone worthy of example.


  • Joseph had every right to publicly expose Mary for her alleged infidelity. But with a heart that must have been broken, he wisely and lovingly elects to divorce her quietly. He does not act in bitterness but in tenderness of heart all the while upholding the OT Law (Deut. 22:23-24).
  • Joseph, against all probabilities, trusted the message of the angel of the Lord and took Mary as his wife. Yet he did not sleep with her! His obedience helped to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14.
  • Joseph, upon the birth of his adopted son, obediently names him Jesus, according to the angel of the Lord’s instruction.
  • Joseph obediently moved his family to Egypt after an angel of the Lord spoke to him in a dream. In his obedience, he helped to fulfill the prophecy of Hosea 11:1.
  • Joseph, after a third visit from the angel of the Lord, obediently moves his family back to Galilee. Once again, this act of obedience fulfilled what the prophets had said concerning the Christ.

We see no hint of resistance, ill-will, or reluctant compliance. Everything about the man is glowingly positive. And then he’s gone from the pages of Matthew’s gospel (except for a single reference in 13:55). He’s an almost forgotten hero of the faith.

Was Joseph fully aware of his significant contribution to the fulfillment of OT prophecy? Perhaps. But I doubt that made obedience any easier. He still bore Mary’s shame, accepted the dangers of long distance travel, and faced his own fears about the great unknown.

And then it hit me…again.

If I am looking for a safe, easy path in this life, then a journey with God is the last place on earth I should be. Obedience is risky. It costs something. It is counter-cultural. 

Yet all through Joseph’s life, God’s perfect plan was being unfolded. He could never have known the immense role he played in God’s grander purposes.

He didn’t need too.

And neither should we.

Friends, we will never know how God intends to use our lives. That is not for use to know or attempt to control. What we can do is commit, by God’s grace and mercy, to surrender our agendas to Him.

What is God asking of you this day?

Brian Hershey

Brian Hershey currently serves as the Campus Life Military Senior Advisor for the Greater Omaha Youth For Christ chapter in Omaha, NE. He holds an undergraduate degree in education, a Masters in Theology from Dallas Seminary, and 20 years of youth ministry experience. He and his wife, Bonnie, have been serving military teens and families since 2001 in Bad Aibiling, Wurzburg, Heidelberg, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and Kaiserslautern, Germany as well as Naples, Italy.


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