A New Exodus
The Significance of His Birth
Day 23 Monday, December 21st
1. Recognize the Context:
When the Magi saw Jesus, they “bowed down and worshiped him.” Then they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Finally, they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod as they had intended. Instead, they returned home via an alternate route.
2. Read the Scripture: Matthew 2:13-18
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
After the Magi departed, Joseph experienced his second angelic dream. He was instructed to take his family to Egypt, where significant Jewish settlements had been established ever since the time of the Babylonian exile. This warning was given because Herod’s true intentions were revealed. He desired to kill the Christ child. Matthew used this same verb for “kill” to describe the intent of the chief priests and elders during Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem (Matt. 27:20). The life of Jesus began and ended with those in authority desiring to kill him.
After Joseph received this warning, he immediately responded by leaving in the middle of the night. The family remained in Egypt until Herod’s death. Verse 15 ends with a quotation from Hosea 11:1. Matthew tells the reader this, “fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” This seems a little confusing until one understands how Matthew saw Jesus "fulfill" the Old Testament.
First, as we have already seen, there were predictive Messianic prophecies Jesus actualized, such as the virgin birth, being born in Bethlehem, etc. Second, as used here and throughout Matthew, Jesus' life corresponded typologically to certain people and events in Israel's history. In Hosea 11:1, the prophet remembered how God had delivered his son (Israel) out of Egypt in the exodus. Analogously, God was delivering Jesus (his Son) by divine protection, out of the hands of Herod.
Additionally, verse 16 is reminiscent of Exodus 1, where Pharaoh ordered the killing of all Israelite boys at birth. In Exodus 2, we read about a boy who was preserved by God from the massacre and eventually led his people out of Egypt in the exodus. In the same way, Jesus was protected from death, and He would function as a New Moses. In a New Exodus, he would deliver God’s people (and the nations) from sin, death, and the power of the enemy.
Finally, in verses 17-18, Matthew compared Bethlehem's grief from Herod's murderous decree with the earlier pain in Israel's history surrounding the exile to Babylon by quoting Jeremiah 31:15. In this passage, Jeremiah presented Rachel (Jacob's wife) as the mother of Israel, figuratively mourning for those taken into exile. By comparison, just as a mighty nation attempted to eliminate God's people, so Herod tried to eliminate the Messiah of God's people. The broader context of Jeremiah provided an element of hope by referring to the coming new covenant between God and his people. This new covenant was established through Jesus, the Messiah.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today prayerfully consider the correlations between Jesus and the history of Israel in this passage and others that may come to mind.
Prayerfully consider how your life is an experience of a New Exodus, including deliverance from sin, death, and the work of the enemy. What difference does this make for you today?
To do: (With the Holy Sprit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions and questions for reflection listed above, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, co-workers.
Reread or review the exodus event and think through the life of Jesus. Make a list of the events the Israelites experienced and then the parallels found in Jesus’ life. For example: Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness—Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. You may want to work on this comparison with another person or a group in order to share your knowledge.