This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son. (Matthew 2:15)
Egypt. Mostly remembered as a place of hardship, but once it was a blessing to the people of God. You remember the story? Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Despite his faithful service, Joseph was wrongly accused by Potiphar's wife and landed in prison. But God was with Joseph and brought him through the prison to be the second most powerful man in Egypt, behind only Pharaoh himself.
And then, when starvation hit the world, Joseph saved his family by providing for them in Egypt. There was a family reunion and all looked good for the people of God. But eventually, Joseph died and the people were enslaved until God raised one up to bring them out of captivity.
Matthew refers to Hosea 11:1 as the source prophecy for his reference. "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Israel, the people, was God's chosen son. For the people of Hosea's day, it's doubtful they understood this to be a prophecy, but merely a recounting of their history. They knew the freedom and joy the people must have felt at being rescued because it would have been recounted and retold in their midst often. They also knew the sorrow and hardships their ancestors faced.
So Matthew draws on their shared history to speak words of hope about Jesus' ministry:
"Remember the joy and freedom the last time God called you out of Egypt? Remember the sorrow and burdens of your old life before that rescue? Take heart! He's doing it again!
While he didn't use these words, the feelings and implication would have been in the hearts and minds of the people. Their history with Egypt was pointing toward a greater rescue story, one which ends in total freedom, never to be enslaved again. It points to the fulfillment of the hope they have had in a coming savior ever since that first promise to Adam and Eve. For Jesus Himself is the Son of God called out of Egypt for you.
Where has God worked rescue in your past? How does that bring comfort to you in your present struggles?
Published January 2012