Fleeing Herod’s infanticide and the flight to Egypt – Matthew 2:13-15 – 01/06/2016
This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.
Matthew 2:13 (ESV) Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Those of you who have been following along with the articles thus far will be aware that the current king, whose name is Herod was a very jealous man who was in a very volatile situation balancing Roman expectations against the Jewish religious leaders demands and wishing to hold on to his wee piece of a divided temporary kingdom. I know what we are about to read is rather distasteful and you may wonder what kind of king could think to do this to innocent children but let us look at the type of man Herod was. This man was a paranoid guy who was not afraid to put members of his own family in harm’s way to protect his position. Infants that he did not know would not be safe from his paranoia and would be considered by him at least to be “collateral damage”. Let’s look at the text in a line by line format…
V13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Just as Joseph had been alerted that Mary was not in sin, God sent an angel to minister to Joseph in the form of a dream. He was given a command, the words from the angel were not a gentle nudge or a possible course of action or recommendation, this was something that had to be done right away.
At this point the wise men had gone, enough time had elapsed that Herod knew that the wise men were not coming back through his palace so Herod had a plan B in mind. Joseph would have known Herod by repute so the news that he had to go and if he did not then Herod would do harm to him, his wife and the baby and the destination would not have been strange to him as he would be aware of the sanctuary that he would find in the Jewish communities that were there. It was still within the safety of the Roman Empire but it was just far enough away that it was able to be travelled to but just outside the clutches of Herod.
The angel does not pull any punches; he makes it clear that there is a clear and present danger if they stay in Bethlehem! God reveals four pertinent pieces of information to show that he is serious…
• Who he was to take – He was to not leave anyone behind, take the whole family with you.
• Where he was to go – We are told, just like Monopoly, Go directly to Egypt, do not pass Go, get out of here now. (FLEE!)
• How long he was meant to be there – Remain there until I tell you.
• The reason why it had to be now – Because Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.
You have to remember that Herod is only interested in one thing, protecting his own little kingdom and had no interest in the things of God and seeking after what was much better (the coming Messiah) and it is rather tragic and a common story of those who have all the riches and power in the world and miss the point of it all. It is not all about what we can see here and this is all temporary and like Herod, we can get wrapped up in protecting our own little kingdoms and neglect our most important relationship, the one with our Messiah Jesus.
How apt that Satan would try to use a wicked king who had a dubious character to try and rid the world of the very one who would reconcile man to God when Jesus was at his most non-threatening, when he was an infant. Do not underestimate the spiritual aspect of this historical account. Yes, Herod was very much the villain and made terrible choices but make no mistake about it Satan did not want Jesus fulfilling his mission.
V14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt
Again Joseph shows tremendous obedience that we could all learn from, the child was not his but he lead his family well and was an honorable man and desired to do the will of God. He did not dawdle, he did not spare any time (left by night) and it demonstrates to me two honorable characteristics in the man called Joseph…
• Obedience to Gods will – This was a lot to handle, they had a long journey to get to Bethlehem, they stayed in Bethlehem until this point, they had an interesting first couple of years of marriage and now they have to flee for their lives due to the guy that’s in charge wants to kill their young son.
• Love for Mary – This would be enough to test any man’s resolve, a child that was not his that was from the Holy Spirit and now having to get out of there because their child was that special that he threatened the status quo of the monarchy and he was still an infant. Joseph shows great love and devotion for this Mary that she was still worth it and shows great character.
We know they went to Egypt, but the writer does not speak of where. What is important that he complied with the request and went.
V15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
We dealt with this in depth in our “Advent series day nine
” page (It is a really good read if you wished to focus in on this verse) so I will not go too deep into this except to clarify that the original prophecy is a quotation from Hosea 11:1. Matthew ties this prophecy to the Messiah Jesus and much as he came out of Egypt he came out to be the Messiah for the Jews first and now for us gentiles also.
His death and sacrifice at Calvary was for the whole world. (See Gospel of John chapter 3) He came to save us all from our sins and reconcile man to God. I pray that if you don’t know Jesus then you investigate the claims of the messiah, if you are a Christian I pray that you grow deeper with your Savior.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to