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Ancient Words: His First Coming, The Flight to Egypt

by Scott Johnson | January 9, 2021 at 1:09 a.m.

Only the Gospel of Matthew gives us the account of the baby Jesus being moved to Egypt. Matthew was well acquainted with the OT and quotes the minor prophet Hosea as a prophecy fulfilled: When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son (Mat 2:14-15). The Hosea verse reads: When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt (Hos 11:1). Matthew does not bring into his text the events of Moses and Israel but his reference to the Hosea text shows his obvious deep conviction to the several parallels: Mary hides Jesus in the land of the Nile to escape Herod’s sword, Miriam hides Moses in the Nile to escape Pharaoh’s “sword” … The family leaves for Egypt after 40 days, Israel leaves from Egypt for 40 years … Moses is the ”Savior” of Israel by leading the nation out of Egypt, Jesus is the Savior of man as he comes out of Egypt.

The faith of Joseph is not mentioned enough. Joseph is awakened at night and told by an angel to leave Bethlehem and head south. No vehicle with gas, no headlights, no asphalt pavement. We presume, he woke Mary with the baby, loaded his donkey and set out in the darkness toward Egypt. The shortest distance then from Bethlehem to the Egyptian border was about 65 km or about 40 miles. Averaging 3.1 miles per hour, Joseph and family would have crossed the border into Egypt after a 12 hour walk (or hike). After Mary’s 40 day purification event and Jesus’ dedication at the temple in Jerusalem, no doubt Joseph was ready to return to his hometown of Nazareth and get back to his carpenter business. But God had other plans. The scripture had to be fulfilled because God, as all-knowing, knew of the nefarious actions King Herod would take against his only begotten: And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him (Mat 2:13). Joseph paid faithful attention to the angel…and to God! Certainly the travel was hard and difficult. Joseph was in the center of God’s will but the journey, the stay, and the return trip to Nazareth was no bed of roses. He had Divine protection but Joseph had to literally walk in faith and courage and determination in carrying out God’s will.

Thank you Joseph for your faith and love and devotion placed into action as an example for us. May we all resolve for 2021 to be more like Joseph. Let’s pull up our bootstraps and set our minds to work God’s will at all costs. Let’s focus not on our light and momentary troubles, but on the end of time joy afforded to all who are led by the Spirit. Let’s take up our cross daily and follow the one who’s cross stands as a testimony to our redemption. Let’s make sure we leave “Egypt” behind: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:1-2).

Scott and Jane Johnson minister with East Faulkner Church of Christ and BRG Bible. Bible questions can be sent to [email protected]

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