Matthew 2:13-23: God’s Plans Cannot Be Thwarted
January 4, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Prophetic fulfillment and angelic intervention. It is clear, from Matthew’s account, that what is happening is of cosmic, supernatural, world-changing impact. Not all the time do angels appear in the Bible. They turn up fairly rarely in the Old Testament, and not much more frequently in the New Testament. But here we have multiple angelic visitations. Similarly, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy theme that runs throughout this section is underlining the significance of the event. Something truly unique is happening.
The first prophecy is that God will call his son out of Egypt (2:15). Jesus therefore is being positioned as the perfect Son that Israel was not, in order to be the one who fulfills the destiny of the Son and through whose life (and death) victory is won for God’s people.
The prophecy of Jeremiah is more somber (2:16-18). There is a real spiritual battle ensuing around this child (see Revelation 12). Herod’s venomous hate of Jesus spills over into vicious attacks on other people. It was ever thus: when someone stands opposed to Christ, they can soon become hateful of people unless God’s grace intervenes and mercy triumphs. As much as love for God has a natural consequence in love for people (when the love for God is genuine), so hate for God has a natural consequence in hate for people (when such opposition is taken to its extreme).
The last prophecy is most obscure of all. In what sense does the Old Testament predict that Jesus should be called a Nazarene (2:23)? Many solutions have been proposed. The most likely seems to be that to be called a Nazarene then was to be despised (“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46). Therefore, in that sense Jesus was prophesied to be a man of sorrows who we esteemed not—and in that sense he was called a Nazarene. But there are other interpretations and we cannot be certain.
We may learn the following. God protects his anointed even when he is so viciously opposed. God’s plans cannot be thwarted. Therefore, hide yourself in him; the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it, and they are saved (Proverbs 18:10).
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.
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