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Let Mercy Speak...From the Life of Joseph

Matthew 1:19 Because Joseph, her husband, was faithful to the Law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Beginning with “faithful to the Law” means that Joseph knew the Jewish laws about relationships. When a husband suspected his wife of cheating, he turned to Numbers 5 where the Word gives directions to carry out…it’s a humiliating disciplinary procedure performed by a priest where the woman “drinks the bitter water that brings the curse,” basically putting or subjecting herself to the consequences of her sin, assuming she has sinned.

Now after that it was not uncommon for the villagers to bring their own “discipline.” The sinful woman was usually brought into a public place and made into a laughing-stock or just a plain out object lesson. Her clothes were ripped off, her hair let down, jewelry taken, and spit on…hence, the phrase “public disgrace” in Matthew 1:19.

Joseph knowing Deuteronomy 22, which explains the consequence of infidelity, death by stoning. His tentative decision to “divorce her quietly” is one of the best acts of mercy in the Bible. Mary had hurt his heart. Joseph had every reason to be furious and seek revenge for Mary’s unfaithfulness, but mercy and unconditional love showed his heart for his bride.

Can you imagine Joseph’s relief when the angel tells him to take Mary as his wife because the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit!

Another reminder…Hosea 2:19-20

Can you relate to showing mercy and love to someone in your life?

My prayer is that we can follow the examples of both Jesus’ earthly father and His Heavenly Father and be a people of unfailing “love and compassion” this holiday season.

Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is redeemed or purged; and by the fear of the Lord men depart form evil.

Mercy carries with it the sense of repair work that God performs to overcome the destruction that our sin or problem has caused.

Pastor Dave Stallman


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