Saturday, September 16, 2023

2023.09.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 2:12–23

Read Matthew 2:12–23

Questions from the Scripture text: What had happened to the magi after they worshiped the Christ (Matthew 2:12)? How were they warned? What were they warned not to do? What did they do instead? When they depart, who appears to whom (Matthew 2:13)? Whom is Joseph to take? To where? Until when? Why? When does he do this (Matthew 2:14)? How long is he there (Matthew 2:15)? For what purpose? What prophecy does this fulfill (cf. Hosea 11:1)? Who sees what in Matthew 2:16? How does he respond? What does he send forth to do? Which children? In what places? Of what age? According to what timing? Whose word does this fulfill (Matthew 2:17)? What had the Spirit said about the timing and usefulness of this suffering (Matthew 2:18, cf. Jeremiah 31:15 in context of Jeremiah 31:16 and the chapter as a whole)? What has happened in Matthew 2:19? Who appears to whom? Where? Whom does he tell him to take (Matthew 2:20)? To where? Why? How does Matthew 2:21 compare to these instructions? What does Joseph hear in Matthew 2:22? How does he feel about what place? Who warns him? How? So where does Joseph go instead? To what city does he come to dwell (Matthew 2:23)? In order to fulfill what (n.b. “Nazarene” is a pejorative and doesn’t mean “Nazarite”; cf. Psalm 22:6–8; Isaiah 49:7, chapter 53)? 

What should we learn about Jesus from the fulfillments of Scripture that Matthew identifies? Matthew 2:12–23 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twelve verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we should read all of Scripture in the light of Christ. 

Fulfillments of Scripture. In this last passage before we come to Jesus’s adult ministry, the evangelist presents us with three fulfillments of Scripture. “that it might be fulfilled” (Matthew 2:15). “The was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah” (Matthew 2:17). And “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets” (Matthew 2:23). But at first glance, if we have not read and understood our Old Testament scriptures as a book about the Christ, these don’t seem to us to be fulfillments, because they are not literal comings-true of predictions from the past. So the Holy Spirit is teaching us something here about how to read our Bibles.

The true sonship. The first quote is from Hosea 11:1. That passage is dealing with a very wicked Israel, particularly the northern kingdom which also went by the name of its largest tribe, Ephraim. It describes His election of them in love, their wicked rejection of Him, and His determination to save them anyway. He determines that He will deliver them again, even bringing them from Egypt. Now, when God’s providence (and special revelation) sends Jesus into Egypt and brings Him back out, the Holy Spirit clues us into an essential component of Hosea 11’s electing love and redeeming action: they are for the sake of Christ. He is the Son in Whom Israel was considered a son and would be redeemed. This also reminds us that not all that are descended from Israel are Israel, but only the Israel of promise (cf. Romans 9:6–8). The true sons are the ones who are in Christ.

The true covenant and citizenship. The second quote is from Jeremiah 31:15, in the middle of that wonderful chapter in which God is again talking about Israel/Jacob/Ephraim as a son upon whom He will have mercy at last to redeem him from his sin. Part of the providential cost of that redemption will be pain of bitter loss (cf. Jeremiah 31:15), but this very bitterness is used of God in their salvation (cf. Jeremiah 31:16). The pattern that was given in the exile to (and return from) Babylon looks forward to a greater day when God establishes a new covenant marked by regenerated hearts, true knowledge of the Lord and forgiveness of sin (cf. Jeremiah 31:31–34). Again, the Spirit is taking something that we might have thought belonged to ethnic Israel but should have known belonged to the Israel of promise. Covenant and citizenship are in the Lord Jesus Christ, not the line of Jacob.

The true, kingly glory. The third quote, we do not find in a particular passage, but we should have expected that from Matthew 2:23 where “prophets” appears in the plural. Nazareth was of no account and despised (cf. John 1:45; John 7:41, John 7:47–52). And indeed the prophets had foretold in many places that the Christ would be despised of men. One of the most intense collections of these predictions was in Psalm 22, which Matthew quotes several times in his account of the cross in chapter 27. But it is precisely for His willingness to be humbled, and even to the point of death on a cross, that Jesus the Christ receives the Name which is above every name and is confessed to be Lord by all creation (cf. Philippians 2:6–11). 

Thus, we learn to read the Bible as a Christ-obsessed book. In Him is true sonship, true salvation, everlasting covenant, heavenly citizenship, and true glory. And those who are being saved will believe and confess these things.

When a prophecy’s fulfillment doesn’t seem obvious, Who is probably the key to understanding it? What place does Jesus have in your identity as a child of God? How does He give you hope for forgiveness, despite sin as big as Ephraim’s? How does His humiliation encourage you to glorify Him even more, and to be willing to be brought low yourself? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for taking us to be Your true children through faith in Jesus Christ. We thank You for His willing humiliation, so that He would be glorified and we would be saved. Grant unto us to know Him from all the Scripture, and to know You in Him we ask, in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH375 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name” 

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