An angel had appeared to Joseph to tell him to go ahead and marry his virgin yet pregnant bride. As a result, and with Herod’s command to return to the city of his birth, Joseph and Mary had arrived in Bethlehem, where Mary has now given birth. Matthew made it clear that this was to fulfill the prophetic Word of God in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Now another angel has appeared to Joseph. This one tells him to “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.” Joseph was faithful to obey God’s instruction through the angel before, and if anything, he is all the quicker to obey now, “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.””
Whereas Matthew quoted Micah before, here he quotes Hosea 11:1. Micah spoke to the southern kingdom of Judah, but Hosea prophesied largely to the northern kingdom of divided Israel. Like Micah, Hosea’s a message was one of indictment and judgment mixed with hope and instruction. The two prophets were contemporaries, ministering some 700 years prior to Matthew and well over a hundred years before the exile. This particular verse from Hosea was given in the context of God’s remembrance of His original call to Israel, in a stanza dripping with melancholy, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me.”
Although the original context speaks of Jacob’s descendants in the Exodus from Egypt hundreds of years before Hosea, Matthew correctly applies the prophesy here to Christ, hundreds of years after Hosea.
God’s Word is true, whether heard in its entirety by the original hearer, or as single fact of prophesy addressed to a reader hundreds or even thousands of years later. This is an unavoidable truth of our timeless God: Originally fulfilled prophesy still has application in the life of a believer, no matter the timeline.
What is even more, He uses the actions of simple ordinary believers – sometimes as unlikely a man as Joseph, sometimes as unlikely a woman as Mary – to fulfill that same word – sometimes in a greater manner than when it was originally given! So great are His promises! Truly it is written, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
I believe the promises of God enough to venture an eternity on them.Isaac Watts
What has God asked of you? What has He promised you? Thank God that He would use you to fulfill His promise to bring the blessing of Himself to all peoples.