Saturday, July 7, 2007

Matthew 2:12-15. Responses to Christ-Obedience to providential guidance

If you’re here for the first time, I’d like to welcome you. If you’ve been here to this blog before, I’d like to welcome you back. I encourage you before you read my commentary on the above verses that you read them in your Bible because I won’t actually include all the verses in my exposition. Also, I welcome any and all comments (even if you happen to disagree with me). I have turned comment moderation on, but that is more to prevent someone who is a few bricks shy of a load from posting something inappropriate here on this blog. So, without further adieu, here we go.

God inspired Matthew to write the scripture that we are studying in order to reveal His providential care of the Messiah. Because God, throughout the Bible, demonstrates His absolute control over all circumstances and His ability to work “all things for the good of those who love Him” we can trust Him and obey Him just as we see the wise men and Joseph do in these verses.

Matthew records that, after they had worshipped Christ, they set out to return home. However, instead of returning to Herod with news of the location of Christ as he had requested, scripture records that they were divinely warned in a dream and, therefore, went by another route. Herod thought he was in control of this situation. He had successfully determined where the Messiah was born with the help of the Jewish leaders and had nailed down when He was born thanks to these wise men. However, despite all his careful planning and his hypocritical cover story of wanting to worship Christ, God providentially directed these wise men for His purposes.

The wise men were not the only ones who received divine direction in the form of a dream, however. While he slept, Joseph was also visited with a heavenly directive. He was told to “Arise! Take the young Child and His mother and flee to Egypt and stay there until I bring you word, for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” We should note the urgency in the directive. Joseph is told to wake up. This was the spiritual equivalent of a fire alarm. They were in very real danger from an evil man with murderous intentions. We should observe also the significance of where they were told to go. God sent them to Egypt. I think it would be unwise to read too much into the mention of Egypt in scripture but suffice it to say this is an unusual place for a Jew to be commanded to go. In fact, unless I’m totally misremembering, this is the first time a Jew was told to go to Egypt since the Exodus. We’ll see the prophetic significance in a few verses. Suffice it to say, Joseph was probably not expecting to be sent to that country. Finally, we should see that people who plot and plan in secret do so in vain. Herod had told no one about his intentions to murder Christ. Of course, God knew the intents of his heart because He is omniscient. This should be especially comforting to remind ourselves of when we’re going through trials. The same God that was watching out for Joseph is watching out for us. Of course, He doesn’t speak through dreams like He did in this verse anymore, but He still watches over His elect. We can rest knowing that whatever happens in our lives, we serve a God that is big enough to take care of it.

Just as the wise men were obedient to the divine warning they received, Joseph also obeyed the voice of the Lord. We see that he didn’t wait to pack and take care of any business he had or find someone to check their mail while they were gone. Just as he did in chapter 1, when God told him to do something, he obeyed immediately (I think there’s a lesson in that, don’t you?). In fact, he arose and took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt. The trip was a hasty one and I suspect he woke up in the middle of the night after having this dream. He was faithful to obey not only immediately but also completely. He went when God told him, where God told him (Egypt), and he stayed as long as God told him to stay.

We can see in verse 15 that the country God sent Joseph to take refuge in also had prophetic significance. Matthew records that Christ living in Egypt and coming back into the land of Israel was prophesied in the book of Hosea 11:1. However, the verse in question actually doesn’t even mention the Messiah but in fact is about Israel. Therefore, the Exodus of Israel from Egypt is represented here as a type. Basically, a type in the Bible is where one thing prefigures another. In this instance, the Jews are seen as a type of Christ since they, like Christ, were called out of Egypt. Therefore, this is a different kind of prophetic fulfillment that when an actual event is prophesied. However, Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, reveals that Christ’s sojourn in Egypt actually served not only to protect Him from this evil Gentile king, but also fulfilled prophecy.

We again observe Joseph’s faith demonstrated by his obedience to the Word of God. When God revealed His will for Joseph, Joseph did as he was told. True saving faith is always characterized by obedience. While those of us who are saved may not always obey and we may not all reach the same level of obedience at the same time, if we are saved it will show by our commitment to obedience just as Joseph and the wise men showed their true saving faith by obeying God. As the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 “You shall know them by their fruits.”

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it incredible how much of Christ's life is depicted through the Jews in the Old Testament and through Old Testament feasts and festivals. Great insight giving the "type" prophesy. Thanks for making me think.