Eran liked Joseph. He had accompanied him for many years. A tradesman, Joseph worked hard to earn a meager wage. Since the betrothal, he worked even harder to build a home that would be worthy of his bride when the day came to bring her home as his wife. He loved Mary. And though at first her immaturity made it difficult for her to understand the ways of arranged betrothals and marriages, Mary had grown to know his kindness. Unless Eran misread her, she had grown to love her future husband as well. Which made the rumors all the more difficult to believe.
Dust rose from the road to the south.
Eran anticipated Mary’s return. He longed to discuss the situation with Adiya, a fellow angel assigned to the protection of Mary. Like himself Adiya was a warrior. He had fought beside her in many battles with the enemy. Surely, she would either dispel or shed light on the rumors.
In the shadows of a house a demon lurked, waiting for a time of vulnerability. A time to bring despair, bitterness, or anger.
Joseph kicked at some gravel alongside the road. As much as he trusted his betrothed love, the rumors obviously weighed heavily in his mind. He looked up and saw the dust. Fear and uncertainty got the best of him. He turned and walked away from the road. Eran wondered what Joseph would do if the rumors proved true. It seemed as though Joseph also wondered.
Soon, Mary arrived with a caravan of people travelling to town from Jerusalem. She climbed down from a wagon and thanked the family for their kindness. Her eyes locked with Joseph.
The rumors were true. The demon slithered toward Joseph with the appearance of a snake. “Ss-she has-ss been unfaith-thful.” He hissed the accusation of Mary at Joseph. “Ss-she des-serves-ss to die.”
Eran unsheathed his sword. Turning to Joseph, he waited for a response.
The man’s smiling gaze moved from the girl’s charming eyes to her slightly-bumping belly. The corners of his lips drooped. The decision he had dreaded, since first hearing the rumors, now smacked him beside the head like a piece of his woodwork. “I won’t do it,” he muttered to himself. “I will not add to her disgrace.” Then Eran knew—Joseph, demonstrating his righteousness, would divorce her in secret. He would not seek her demise. Even though he could not see the intense light emanating from her, Joseph chose mercy. A difficult decision for sure.
With his jaw tight and moisture threatening his eyes, Joseph turned and walked away.
Eran waited for Adiya, but kept an eye on the demon. “She is with child?” But even as he asked the question, he knew. This was no ordinary child. The light, from The Light. She bore the Messiah. The promised Deliverer from the line of David. The Son of God. “How? Why?”
She explained the past months events, including the work of the Spirit in Mary.
He knew not what to say. He prepared to prostrate himself before the Creator in Mary, when Adiya pointed to the demon who slithered toward Joseph. “Go,” she said. “The enemy endeavors greatly to prevent this birth. Joseph will be needed.”
Eran returned to Joseph and the demon slithered back in the shadows.
That night as Joseph slept, Eran approached him and reached his hands into the man’s head. God gave him a message for Joseph. He stirred a dream in Joseph’s mind. “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
Eran pulled back his hands.
The man’s breathing deepened and a smile formed on his face.
The words of the prophet Isaiah began to take form. “See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’”
All Scripture from Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) - Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.