December 21: Sovereign Joy
December 21, 2015
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. To receive these Advent readings directly in your inbox, sign up here. Matthew 2:13-15:
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”It was a busy season for the angels, relatively rare as their appearances are in the rest of Scripture, packed now together in this seismic, earth-changing, heaven-revealing moment around the incarnation of God. The angel’s instructions are clear: leave, “get up,” and go with your family and “escape to Egypt.” Lest such instruction be greeted with surprise and horror – they had hardly had a chance to get settled as a family, after all – the angel makes it clear the reason why. Herod is looking for the child, and his goal is evil: to kill the child. Jesus, born King, threatens Herod’s kingdom, and Herod is enacting a policy as predictable as it is evil and pathetic. He will not succeed in his malevolent aims. In fact, they will stay in Egypt, Matthew tells us, until the death of Herod. It is not wise to oppose the Son of God and seek to kill him. Herod would have done better to have submitted to this new-born King. This move to Egypt made the young family refugees. They were far from home, living in a foreign country, having to become acclimated to foreign ways of doing things. How did they provide for themselves? Was Joseph’s skill set as a carpenter sufficiently portable that he could ply a trade in Egypt and so look after his family? Where did they live? What sort of friendships and support could they find as they tried to become accustomed to their new role as parents, not to mention being parents of Jesus as they sought to fulfill the duties that had been entrusted to them? It was a tall order, a difficult task. And yet, like everything in this world, but specifically here at this moment of fulfillment, it had a providential, and in this case specifically prophetic intentionality behind it. “Out of Egypt I called my son.” The reference is not only to a particular Bible verse in the Old Testament, but also to the pattern of redemption of the Old Testament. The Old Testament story, in very broad brush strokes, is a story of God’s covenant people going down to Egypt, then being called out of Egypt, and then being formed into a people under God’s rule. It is clear from the story that they never managed to live up to that calling, and so now, God’s true Son, Jesus Himself, is going to be the “Son” that Israel never quite lived up to being. Jesus will live the perfect life and die the death, as our representative head, so that those who trust in him can be rescued and in him have the righteousness of God. This story reminds us that God is sovereign over even our difficult family circumstances. But even more, it tells us that God is sovereign over all circumstances, all powers and authorities, to lead us to the true King Jesus.
For lo! the days are hastening on, By prophets seen of old, When with the ever-circling years Shall come the time foretold, When the new heaven and earth shall own The Prince of Peace, their King, And the whole world send back the song Which now the angels sing.
“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” by Edmund Hamilton Sears, 1849]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."