Monday, December 27, 2010

The Birth of Jesus part 4

Matthew 2:12-23
 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.  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. 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. 

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,  In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.  And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
But having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way. This warning by God leads you to believe that He was directly communicating with these men, and that their role in this circumstance was by divine design. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph also in a dream, giving him a warning from God. This news was not of joy or hope but of danger requiring immediate action. Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.  We do not know the length of time the family stayed in Egypt only that they were there. It is likely their stay in Egypt lasted not more that a few months awaiting the death of Herod. The primary reason for the family’s going to Egypt is told through the prophet Hosea that scripture might be fulfilled saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son”( Hosea 11:1).

History teaches us that Herod was a cruel and merciless man. He was extremely jealous, suspicious, and afraid of loosing his position and power. Fearing this possible threat, he had the high priest, who was his wife’s brother drowned. He then had his wife killed, and then her mother and two of his own sons. Five days before his death (about a year after the birth of Jesus) he had a third son executed. One great evidence of his severe cruelty was having the most  prominent citizens of Jerusalem arrested and imprisoned shortly before his death. Because he knew no one would mourn his own death, he gave orders for those prisoners to be executed the moment he died to guarantee that there would be mourning in Jerusalem. He ordered all male children under the age of two years old to be murdered in Bethlehem and in the surrounding areas in hopes of killing any threat to the throne.
Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel: for those who sought the Child’s life are dead. After leaving Egypt, Joseph was fearful to take Mary and Jesus back to Bethlehem hearing that Archelaus, Herod’s son, was now ruler in Judaea. Archelaus was a harsh ruler as was his father and so being warned in a dream, he journeyed to Nazareth that it might be be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
Nazareth was an lowly little town 70 miles outside Jerusalem to the north. It was a place of humble importance and nowhere mentioned in the Old Testament. Some have said that Matthew is using “Nazarene” as a synonym for someone who is despised or loathsome--for that was how people were often characterized from that region. (John 1:46) And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. (Isaiah 53:3) He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Thought: We must keep in mind that God is bigger than any plan that Satan may have or had to destroy Jesus. He is the sovereign of this universe and His promises are definite and trustworthy. God promised that the Christ Child would come, be born, pay the price for our sins by dying on the cross, raise from the grave, and ascend into Heaven. He fulfilled every prophecy; Oh, praise His Holy name. May you have a very Merry Christmas and be mindful that Christ is the focus and reason for this most wonderful time of the year.

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