Matthew 2:5-6 “They said to [Herod], “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, Land of Judah, are be no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel'”
-prophesy found in Micah 5:2
Matthew 2:15 “He remained [in Egypt] until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through he prophet:
‘Out of Egypt I called My Son'”
– prophesy from Hosea 11:1
Matthew 2:23 “They came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets:
‘He shall be called a Nazarene'”
– prophesies unclear, but most likely from Isaiah 11:1
Oook… So you are telling me that Jesus was supposed to to fulfill three prophesies about where He was from? Egypt, Bethlehem, and Nazareth? How is that possible? Nazareth is about 150 miles away from the border of Egypt, 200 miles from where Joseph and Mary probably went! Then Bethlehem is in between those, so that is a far reach of places that Jesus was supposedly supposed to be from!
You know what fascinates me about all this? How does God fulfill all these prophesies? He uses the government! First off, Mary and Joseph were in Nazareth when Mary was pregnant, but Jesus is supposed to be born in Bethlehem. So, God intervenes and has Quirinias take a census. In those days everyone had to go back to their home town to register, which meant that Joseph needed to go Bethlehem because he was from the line of David. Step one, get Jesus to Bethlehem: Check – Joseph goes back to his hometown to register for the census.
Next, we need to get Jesus to grow up in Egypt, because Hosea thought it would be a good idea to throw that in there! Mary and Joseph had already traveled about 70 miles to Bethlehem from Nazareth (while Mary was pregnant), last thing they want to do is to take a scenic vacay to Egypt with a newborn. So, how to get Mary, Joseph and Jesus to Egypt? Have them run for their lives? Herod knew that this child was supposed to be born, and was scared to relinquish his position as king! Therefore, he had all the babies killed in the Bethlehem area. Luckily an angel appeared to Joseph and Mary telling them to go to Egypt. Step two, get Jesus to Egypt: Check – Herod kills all babies under two forcing the family to flee to Egypt.
Now, Joseph was from Nazareth, but if they stayed in Egpyy then Jesus would not be considered a Nazarene, thus killing the prophesy saying “He shall be called a Nazarene”. However, they were not about to go back into the land where babies were being slain, so they were stuck. Just when all seems lost, Herod dies, and his son Archelaus takes over and the Lord says to Joseph “those who sought the child’s life are dead“. Now it was safe to go back to Nazareth. Step three, get Jesus to Nazareth: Check – Herod dies and it is now safe to return.
What does all this mean in our lives today? It’s pretty cool to look back and see prophesies fulfilled in such a way, and to see the miraculous power of God. However, I think there is more we can glean from these passages. With all this talk about Syria it is tough to figure out what side to be on *I don’t want the comments turning into a political debate, if so, that means you have missed the point I am about to make* If you are for military action then the other side seems to think you are a big policeman intervening in every battle, even ones that are not our to begin with. If we don’t do anything than the other side thinks we are just letting evil run rampant in this world.
While I am not offering a position on this issue, nor where I stand, I think there is comfort we can take in the situation by look at the birth of Jesus. It is a simple fact that I am sure many of you agree with, and know in your head, but sometimes is tough to put into practice. “God has control over the government”. We may not always understand what is going on, but He does.
I’m sure Joseph didn’t want to be traveling around with a pregnant woman on a donkey for 70 miles to go take a census. I’m sure it really sucked when Herod decided to kill all boys under the age of two, but God allowed these things to happen in order to fulfill His prophesies, and to show His mighty power over everything on this earth! God intervened the government to have His will be done, we may not understand why on this side of heaven He chose to do it the way He did, but we must take solace in the fact God is in control.
So, with Syria. No matter how Congress votes next week, I am taking refuge in God, knowing He is in control, and He knows what will happen and what will happen as a result of those actions. This doesn’t mean we cannot have opinions and civilized conversations, but ultimately we know that there is something far more important than the decision being made, it’s knowing that God knows what the decision is, and why it was made.
What are some other things in your life where it is hard to see God at work?
How have you seen God intervene in the past to bring about something good in your life?