Out of Egypt I Called My Son

Matthew 2:13-15

13 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.”

The wise men from the east came to worship Jesus while he and his family remained in Bethlehem. This was likely when Jesus was a toddler. Joseph and Mary seem to have set up house for a bit in Joseph’s family’s native town. Perhaps this was to give Mary time to recover from the birth. Perhaps Joseph and Mary wondered where they should raise the Son of God.

But God would move Joseph, Mary, and young Jesus exactly where he wanted them. When King Herod plotted to kill Jesus by slaughtering all the children in Bethlehem, God rescued the family by calling on them to flee to Egypt. Perhaps this destination was made ready for them by the Jewish community that grew up in Egypt around the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The family would remain safely in Egypt until Herod’s death, which historians tell us took place in 4 BC. Then God would move the family back into the land of Israel and to the town of Nazareth.

We know this story pretty well. And many Christians are familiar with the end of verse 15, “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” But have you ever considered what is being said here?

Matthew cites Hosea 11:1. In context, Hosea is speaking about Israel, the nation, which god rescued from Egypt in the exodus. Now Matthew says that this is Jesus. Jesus is doing what Israel did. Israel is the type and Jesus the antitype. Israel and the exodus foreshadow the life and the work of Jesus.

In Genesis 12, God promised Abram that he would bless the entire world through Abram’s offspring. The reference is not to all the offspring of Abram, all the people born in his line, the nation, but simply to a singular offspring, through Christ. Matthew shows us that this offspring of Abram, the Israel of God, is fully bound up in the person and work of Jesus. What God promised Israel, God promised Jesus. When God is victorious in Jesus, God fulfills his promises to Israel.

While all this might seem a bit heady, there is application for the Christian of today. Are you saved? Are you in Christ? If so, then you are in the true Israel of God. What God promised his people is what God promised you. No, you and the church have not replaced Israel. But all who are in Christ, all who have blessing in Christ, have been counted in the true Israel.

National Israel in the Old Testament is the nation through which God promised to fulfill his glorious plan. And national Israel had a very conditional covenant. When national Israel obeyed, they would be blessed. When national Israel disobeyed, they would be judged. Within national Israel would be found members of the true, spiritual Israel, true believers in God who were under his grace. And it is certain, as Paul says in Romans 9, that not all who are Israel are Israel—not all in the nation are truly saved and under God’s grace. But God would always preserve a remnant of the nation out of love for Abraham, the other forefathers, and David. More importantly, God would preserve a remnant of the nation so that he could fulfill his promise to send the Christ out of that nation.

Now the Christ has come. He is now the representative head of the true Israel of God, the people under his grace. And we see that Jesus plays this role by being the true Son of God whom he called out of Egypt.

Jesus fulfills all of God’s promises. To be part of the true Israel of god has nothing at all to do with your ethnicity. It all has to do with this question, “Are you in Christ?” This gives hope to all who have seen themselves guilty of sin and have run to Jesus for mercy. And the offer of God’s mercy is available to all who will repent and believe.