“Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! 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.” — Matthew 2:13Read the full passage: Matthew 2:13-15
As we read today’s passage, we see God’s hand intricately weaving His plan into motion now that the Messiah is on earth. We have already seen how God has fulfilled every prophecy regarding Christ’s birth, the confirmation of his kingship through the visit of the magi, and now we will see his earthly ministry come to fruition through His protection and preparation.
Joseph, Mary’s husband, is not surprised to see the angel in his dreams again, and he has developed a very good habit of obeying what the Lord’s messenger instructs. In the passage, Joseph is told to go NOW and take his family to Egypt. The original language here is compelling and urgent. And of course, as we have seen him do before, Joseph obeys immediately, leaving by the dark of night.
In reading verses 13–15, I find myself asking “why Egypt?” Egypt was not known for its worship of Yahweh. Why couldn’t a closer town out of the jurisdiction of Herod the Great has been just as good? In looking for the answer, I discovered that Egypt, although a Gentile nation, was also home to a large Jewish population. Perhaps this would have been reason enough for Joseph to obey.
But there was a more important reason for God’s instruction for Joseph to go to Egypt with Jesus. We find it represented in the Old Testament quote in verse 15: “This happened so that what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son.’”
We must remember that the original audience of Matthew’s Gospel was the Jewish nation. They likely would have known this reference to the Son found in Hosea 11:1. God inspired Matthew to write these words to connect His plan to His people. Remember that the Jewish nation, often referred to as God’s son in the Old Testament, was sent to Egypt for protection, and during the exodus was called out of Egypt by God. Only God would have so perfectly and strategically given the Jewish nation a clear message of the coming of the Messiah, the One they had been looking for centuries. And He used the history of their own nation to bridge the gap to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
God’s timing is perfect, His plans are perfect, and there is never a lack of intentionality to them. Joseph immediately obeyed God’s messenger, picked up his family, and headed to Egypt to wait on the death of Herod, at which time he would obey God and return at the perfect time in the earthly ministry life of Jesus.
God repeated how he instructed Joseph by sending an angel. He also repeated to Israel how he took them from captivity in Egypt and foreshadowed how He would do it again through Jesus.