In the first two chapters of his gospel, Matthew records three examples of Joseph hearing God and obeying what he hears.
First, Joseph is told by an angel in a dream that he shouldn't be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the child she was carrying was from God (Matthew 1:20). A few verses later, we're told that Joseph did take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:24).
The second example comes after the visit from the Magi. An angel again appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him he needs to escape to Egypt with Mary and the child because Herod wants to kill the child (Matthew 2:13). So Joseph took Mary and the child to Egypt (Matthew 2:14).
An angel of the Lord appears to Joseph a third time after Herod's death and tells him to return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-20). Once again, Joseph obeys (Matthew 2:21).
Now, I acknowledge that God would have still protected His Son and carried out His plan no matter what Joseph had done. But I think Joseph still sets a great example for us in these instances.
When God spoke to Joseph, Joseph's response was to obey - even when it cost him to do so. He set an example of hearing God and then obeying God. I think it's an example we would do well to follow in our own lives.
I sometimes wonder if the biggest reason why we don't hear God's voice in our lives is that we haven't yet responded in obedience to what God has already said to us. We've asked God to speak to us and He has, but for whatever reason - whether fear or not wanting to do it or any other excuse we may give - we haven't obeyed what God has told us.
And, so I wonder if, when we are in this situation, God's response when we ask Him to speak to us again is, "I already told you what to do, when are you going to do it?"
I know it often plays out this way in my life. When I haven't obeyed what He's already told me, I get easily frustrated when I feel like He's not speaking to me. But I've learned in those times I need to step back and look for where God has already spoken and there's something I need to do.
Now, I'm not saying God won't ever speak to us if we're not obeying what He's already told us. Putting God in a box like that will never work. But I do think He speaks more - or, maybe better put, we listen to Him better - when we're already doing what He has told us.
We can learn much from Joseph's example here in Matthew 1-2. When we hear God's voice, our response should be obedience to what we hear. And as we keep responding that way we keep hearing God's voice directing us.
Are you listening for God to speak?
Are you responding to what He says with obedience?