13 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."

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 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."

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

Matt 2:13-18 (NIV)

It’s not too difficult to discern why Joseph was rightfully picked to be the earthly “father” of our Lord Jesus – obedience. In the second of his four dreams, Joseph was told to get up and flee to Egypt – the Christ child’s life was at risk. Joseph was neither aware about the danger nor how to avert it yet God directs him in precisely what to do. God even supplied the means by way of the gifts of the Magi. Everything was covered – the safest place to be is the center of God’s will. Nothing ever takes God by surprise. He is acquainted with all the cruel projects and purposes of His enemies and He here warns Joseph through His angelic messenger of such. To Joseph’s credit, when the angel of the Lord speaks to him in dreams, we discover him moving and moving quickly. Flesh often stupidly and foolishly rebels against obedience – ignoring, delaying, questioning, dismissing or fleeing from God’s best for our lives. Seriously, when are we ever going to learn that God always has our best interest at heart? It is not the easiest way for certain but it is the best way. It always boils down to trust. I am reminded of God’s Words penned by the Prophet Jeremiah:

21 “‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! 22 For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.’” Jer 7:21-24 (NIV)

“God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.” Elisabeth Elliot

“In our walk with God we are told explicitly by Christ Himself that it would be His Spirit who would be sent to guide us and to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). This same gracious Spirit takes the truth of God, the Word of God, and makes it plain to our hearts and minds and spiritual understanding. It is He who gently, tenderly, but persistently says to us, ‘This is the way – walk in it.’ And as we comply and cooperate with His gentle promptings a sense of safety, comfort and well-being envelops us.” Phillip Keller

The journey for Joseph and his young family to Egypt would be both inconvenient and perilous yet Joseph remained steadfast to the heavenly vision he had received. He made no objection nor did he dawdle but immediately got up and set out during the night making quick work of obedience. But why would God have them sojourn in Egypt? It was a place notorious for idolatry, tyranny and enmity towards God’s people. The Messiah would be sent to and return from Egypt to both fulfill Scripture (Hosea 11:1) and identify with the nation of Israel who also descended into Egypt to escape the dangerous conditions drought had caused and eventually miraculously departed. Christ spoke later in Matthew on fleeing from the danger of persecution and in our verses for today it is fleshed out aided by His parents:

23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Matt 10:22-23 (NIV)

“Self-preservation, being a branch of the law of nature, is eminently a part of the law of God.” Matthew Henry

Lastly, we see the horror fleshed out by one filled with the influences of Satan and self. King Herod was a despicable man infamous for dastardly deeds. It was reported that Emperor Augustus stated it was better to be Herod’s sow than his son, for his sow had a better chance of survival in a Jewish community. He put to death several of his own children and some of his wives who plotted against him. It is amazing that he could find others so inhuman to carry out his barbarous works. Wicked hands seem to be able to find wicked tools to work with. His actions were purely to gratify his brutish prideful lusts and cruelty – furious that he was outwitted by the Magi. At the time he was around seventy years old and therefore any infant under two was rather unlikely to give him any disturbance. It is amazing how low humans can stoop.

“Holiness is not a feeling – it is the end product of obedience. Purity is not a gift – it is the result of repentance and serious pursuit of God.” Frances J. Roberts

What I Glean

  • I am called to be faithfully obedient.
  • As a believer, the Spirit will tenderly and gently lead me.
  • “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (Jeremiah 17:9A) I am to continually ask God to search my heart - pointing and purging out wickedness to purify.