“And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 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'” (Matt. 2:14-15).
Some commentators have drawn some bizarre applications of the infant Christ's time in Egypt ranging from our personal identification with Christ when our infants are in dire straights to God's justification for leaving the Jews because Egypt entertained Christ when they humiliated him during His infant years (Henry, 11). However, these applications take our focus off Christ and onto ourselves by forcing meanings onto the text that aren't there.
Furthermore, these attempts to satisfy a preconceived need or theological bent completely miss an astounding parallel that Matthew was drawing from the prophet Hosea. The prophet Hosea is probably best known for the first 3 chapters of his prophecies. Here, this loving husband repeatedly reclaims his wayward wife Gomer each time she leaves him for a life of prostitution and restoring her to a right relationship with him. This prophetic act of symbolism sets the stage for the rest of Hosea's message to Israel, who's story is just like Gomer's. Here, Hosea emphasizes just how the loving God has repeatedly reclaimed his wayward people Isreal each time they left him to prostitute themselves to foreign gods and restored them to a right relationship with him. Hosea 11:1 continues theme through Israel's history, remembering their sojourn in Egypt where they lived as captives and slaves instead of the land promised to their father Abraham. Thus, God called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt and back to where they belonged. Yet, as forty years in the wilderness will attest and then the failure to drive the Canaanites from the land, the Israelites strayed from God despite His miraculous works. This word is given to shame the people of Israel, calling them to remember all that God has done for them as His people, and return to a right relationship with Him, just as Gomer did with Hosea. At first glance this Old Testament prophecy seems to have little to do with Jesus. Yet, Matthew, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, sees this passage not only as fulfilled, but “filled full” or filled to its fullest extent of meaning. Thus, this prophecy is realized in two stages where “Israel's deliverance from Egypt anticipates the greater saving work of Jesus” (Elwell 726). Matthew discovered the meaning behind the odd use of pronouns in Hosea 11:1-2 which first refers to Israel in the singular: “When Israel was a child, I loved him...;” and then in the plural: “But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me.” Matthew realized that God sent Jesus to virtually relive the life and journey of Israel, but this time to do it right, sinless. So we see that just as Israel was born in the promised land with Abraham, so was Jesus in Bethlehem. Just as Israel was threatened with annihilation by an external force (famine), so too was Jesus (Herod). Then just as Israel was taken to Egypt for protection through a man named Joseph, so too was Jesus taken to Egypt for protection by His legal father Joseph. Again, just as God called Israel called back to the promised land, so too was Jesus called back to Galilee. This theme of Jesus reliving and perfecting Israel's history occurs repeatedly. Two examples include: Jesus being “cast as a new Moses, who infancy was likewise threatened by a cruel decree (Exod 1:22) and who, like his forebear, in on a mission of deliverance” (Howell, 21); and when Jesus is led into the desert wilderness for 40 days to be tested (Mark 1:13), just as Israel wandered in the desert wilderness for 40 years to be tested (Deuteronomy 8:2). Thus, where Israel was the redeemed “son” of God in Hosea, Jesus reveals the full meaning as the actual son of God, who is the Redeemer himself (Elwell, 726).
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.