Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 96 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 2 today and our focus is on whether or not Jesus was a refugee and whether or not God speaks in dreams. Both questions are pretty easily answered, but there’s more to it than just a simple yes or no. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Thuringia state, Germany, New South Wales, Australia, Delhi, India, Columbus, Ohio, Toledo, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia and a special shoutout and thank you to Willem Dykstra of Minneapolis who literally retweets every tweet I have about the Bible2021 podcast. Thanks for listening! This ended up being a slightly longer than normal pod, so buckle in and hang on! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan
I’ll never forget a sort of mistake I made in my early years of pastoring. I was teaching through the book of Matthew on Wednesday night’s Bible study at our church, and we had one family who came into the adult Bible study with their little ones. Each week before the study started, we would all watch the Visual Bible – Matthew word for word from the Scripture – an excellent dramatized Bible. Unfortunately, though I had watched Matthew 2 more than once on the Visual Bible before, I hadn’t watched it through recently before that Bible study, and forgot how disturbing its portrayal of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents in that chapter was, and so the little kids saw it. The parent’s didn’t complain, but I was worried that it would be too much for the kids, which made me pay closer attention to that part than normal, and it shook me. To be clear, the Visual Bible did not over-do it – their portrayal wasn’t inaccurate…in fact, it was muted, considering the reality must have been far worse…but it was still deeply disturbing – a localized genocide, which caused the family of Jesus to flee to another country, which brings us to a somewhat controversial question that I’ve seen asked a few times: Was Jesus a refugee? Since Google is the new way that people look up definitions these days, let’s go with the first two definitions from Google. #1 a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. and #2 (from Wikipedia) A refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Did Jesus and His family meet this criteria? Let’s look at the text:
13 After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. Matthew 2:13-14
To my mind, that pretty clearly meets the criteria for Jesus and His family to be refugees. They left their country to escape persecution – they left their country and could not return home safely. There’s really no question about it. But, what does this mean, practically, that Jesus was a refugee? Should it change how we treat refugees? I don’t really think so – Jesus has already told us, in Matthew 25:31-46, that how we treat the least of these, shows whether or not we are followers of Jesus, and thus whether or not we will spend eternal life with Him. I think refugees would certainly qualify as the least of these. What does that mean for the political policies of countries when faced with refugees? That’s a complicated question that goes beyond the scope of a ten minute podcast, but I will tell you that the Jesus way will always be the compassionate way. Does that mean a country should have complete open borders with no rules or regulations? I don’t think so…Israel did not have complete open borders, so that would seem to indicate that having laws about such things is not a violation of God’s will. Let’s read today’s passage and then briefly discuss dreams.
As our 9 year old daughter Phoebe pointed after tonight’s Bible reading, “Obviously God sometimes speaks in dreams, because He did twice in one chapter!” I think that means that I’ve covered this topic before, last year at some point, but it bears repeating. God gives Joseph two important messages of guidance through dreams in Matthew 2. Does God speak in dreams? Absolutely – we see it all over the New Testamant and the Old Testament. Does God STILL speak in dreams? I see no reason why He wouldn’t do that in the Bible – it seems to be a rare, but normal occurrence in the lives of believers. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quotes a prophecy from Joel about God speaking to and through His people in the last days:
And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all people; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:17
Given that the last days are not completed, obviously, I see every reason to believe that God will speak to His people through dreams and visions. Here’s where the rubber meets the road: HOW DO WE KNOW IF A DREAM IS FROM GOD?! This is the huge question, and it is so huge, that it also goes beyond the scope of a ten minute podcast, but do let me share 5 principles that might help us to know.
#1 The Word of God is the ultimate authority in a Christian’s life. Do not look to dreams for guidance – look to God’s Word for guidance. It is infallible and will equip you to know God’s will and walk in it.
#2 A dream from God will NEVER contradict God’s Word. If a dream leads you in a different direction that the clear meaning of Scripture does, then you can be sure that the dream did NOT originate from God.
#3 Not every dream means something – and not every dream is from God. Pay more attention to God’s Word than to dreams and things like that. But, you might be saying – I don’t want to miss a communication from God! This leads me to #4
#4 – You won’t miss a dream that is from God. You will know it. HOW will you know it? I don’t know, but when God sent a dream in the Bible, there was no doubt to the recipient that it was from God. I do not believe God speaks to us often in dreams, but when He does, He has the know-how and the power to make it abundantly clear that such a dream is from Him.
#5 Do not put much stock in future-prediction dreams that you or, especially others, have. God knows the future, and He sometimes shares that with His people, at least in the Bible, in the form of dreams and visions. That can happen today too – I see no biblical reason to believe that it can’t. But, in an age of social media and Youtube, some people will do much to receive attention, likes, and fame. Last year more than one friend sent me a Youtube link asking about a pastor who had a dream related to the pandemic and future political unrest. Could this dream be prophetic, they asked – is he predicting the future? I watched it, and wrote back – maybe so, I said, but let’s see how it plays out. I was skeptical, and told them so. Almost a year after that dream, we’ve seen how it played out, and it was hit or miss. Some of his predictions were accurate, some were close, but not spot-on, and some were way off. About what you’d expect from an educated guess, really – and not at all what you’d expect from God, who knows the future perfectly. So – be careful with dreamers. Often they relay empty dreams that aren’t from God.
For the idols speak falsehood, and the diviners see illusions; they relate empty dreams and offer empty comfort. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they suffer affliction because there is no shepherd. Zechariah 10:2
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
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