“After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly 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 destroy Him.’” (Matthew 2:13)
Joseph had at least four encounters with angels and dreams which determined major decisions. The first came when he learned of Mary’s pregnancy. “An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream,” was the first statement. (Matthew 1:20) The second instance, from the text above is stated almost exactly the same way. The third instance occurred in Egypt after Herod died. “An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream” is the statement in Matthew 2:19. The fourth time came when Joseph was “warned in a dream” when he learned that Archelaus was ruling in place of Herod and withdrew into Galilee and settled in Nazareth.
Have you ever had what you felt was an encounter with an angel of the Lord in a dream?
If such an event were to occur in your life, how would you know whether this is truly an angel of the Lord, or that your dream was something from the Lord?
First, the appearance would be sudden. He would simply be there. Second, the angel would not claim any allegiance to himself but would represent God. Third, the angel would deliver a message from God or otherwise give a direction that is from God which would not in any way conflict with what is already written in the word of God. Fourth, the message would be something intended to further the kingdom of God centered around the divinity and authority of Jesus Christ, or to prevent a major hindrance to the kingdom of God. The criteria is steep. It was then for Joseph as well, given what was at stake.
Lord, We seek Your will, and we seek a personal communion with You in which You speak to us in ways of Your choosing. Help us to be perceptive to the ways and the times when You speak, whatever form that takes. Amen.