Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23

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The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23 – 02/03/2016

Matthew 2:19 (ESV) But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

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.

Let’s start our bible study in verse nineteen.

V19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

God again spoke to Joseph through a dream by way of an angel of the Lord, much in the same way as he was told that Mary had not been unfaithful, also in the same way he was told to flee to Egypt in the first place and we again see Josephs remarkable obedience to what he now trusts to be true.

We don’t see from the text how long he was a refugee in Egypt, however we do see that there was enough time elapsed that Herod was dead at the point of return. We know that Jesus was still classified as a child so he would not be regarded as a young man (around the age of 13) We see in a few verses that Herod had been succeeded by his son and from research on the man, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree on that son.

Interestingly we see the way that the people are listed; the child is always listed before the mother in importance. We see that prophecy is being fulfilled because Jesus was called to be the messiah to the people of Israel first, he cannot do this if he is not back in Israel.

V22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

We now see Herod’s son is now in place as king over Judea, much like his father Herod the Great he was a puppet king under the Emperor Augustus, he was regarded as a man much in the same vein as his father, he is noted mainly by the Jewish historian Josephus.

Most of his battles internally were with the Jewish leaders of the day, he was the king who placed a golden eagle over the temple door with the Jewish leaders saw as blasphemous and was known for killing rivals and those who opposed his decrees. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on this matter”…

“Herod defended his works and offered an attack on his predecessors, the dynastic Hasmoneans. Herod killed all male lineal successors of the Hasmoneans. The Pharisees had long attacked the Hasmoneans as well, as having parentage from Greeks while under bondage. This racial slur was repeated by the Pharisees through the rule of Alexander Jannaeus and Queen Salome.”

He ruled for less than a decade and made enemies on all sides, he was replaced in 6AD with a Roman appointed governor. (You may remember that was the title of Pontius Pilate) and this is enough to tell you that the man’s reputation alone was enough to make Joseph rightly anxious about going there. Joseph decided to go back to the place where it all began for Mary and him. This made sense in a cultural basis going back to where they would have a support network.

V23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Interestingly enough they went into another province run by a King Herod, but this was the brother called Antipas who was regarded as a ruler with a much milder mannerisms. He went to an area that was not as densely populated with Jewish religious people, Galilee was the area that had a more broad spectrum of Jewish and Gentile mix, it was a fishing area and in this area which was not as highly regarded as the great city of Jerusalem it would be where the messiah of the world would grow up.

This touches me on so many levels, how many times have we seen God not using the things that we regard as remarkable and the things that we think God will regard because they are beautiful to man’s eyes, God sees them as nothing. It is true in my life also. I am an unremarkable man, however God has allowed me to be part of some really cool things in his name, I never think that it is me by any means. I consider myself to be a type of Nazareth, not much to look at but desiring to be used by God.

Joseph chose to go to the place with the bad reputation. When Philip is introduced to the messiah and finds out he hailed from Nazareth – He questioned and asked “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) He also chose to go to the place that knew the strange circumstances regarding Mary’s conception and how Joseph was not the earthly father of Jesus. Talk about starting the child off with a disadvantage.

It was very much the will of the Father that the child would fulfil prophecy, and when he was alive he was not known as “Jesus Christ” but simply “Jesus of Nazareth” and because of this his followers were sometimes called Nazarenes (see Acts 24:5)

Acts 24:5 (ESV) For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Jesus would be in small town life, if Joseph was gone then Jesus would be expected to fill in as man of the house, be faithful in his trade (his father’s trade) and be diligent in the small things prior to embarking on his ministry journey. This is a great lesson to us as we figure out what God’s plan or calling is on our lives. The encouragement is to be diligent, be faithful in the small things and be prepared for when God is going to open that door to whatever ministry he has planned for you.

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, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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