“Out Of Egypt I Called My Son”
This Sunday morning I will be interacting with a Sunday school class on how the New Testament writers came to the conclusion that the Jewish Scriptures point us to Jesus but the majority of Jews from the first century to the present don’t come to this conclusion.
We know from our interaction with Hosea 11 the last few days that it tells the story of Israel pictured as a stubborn, rebellious son who God, their father, must judge, yet Matthew applies the passage to Jesus. When Herod the Great tried to murder the infant, Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt to save his life. They didn’t return from Egypt until God revealed that it was safe, and Matthew suddenly interjects that this return from, Egypt stated in Hosea 11:1, refers to Jesus.
A Jewish rabbi can easily point to this use of their Scriptures in the New Testament and say it is obviously contrived. We know from the context that Ephraim, not the Messiah, is the son spoken about in this account, and he doesn’t play the role of a good character. He’s a rebel and an idolater. God is the father who must judge this hardened, unrepentant son. So when Matthew uses it as one of the clues that points to the Messiah, he must be wrong. Here are the passages:
“When Israel was a youth I loved him, and from Egypt I called my son.” Hosea 11:1
“This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:15
Was Matthew simply misquoting a passage and using it illegitimately to prove that Jesus was the Messiah? How does the Hosea 11 that speaks about God’s justice and fatherly heart of compassion raise tough questions about the holy justice of God and yet his merciful compassion? How can these two attributes of God be reconciled? How might Hosea’s prodigal story about Israel relate to Matthew’s firstborn son story about Jesus? How does our personal point of view influence whether or not we can open ourselves up to what both Hosea and Matthew are trying to tell us?
Your assignment is to come up with your own answers to these questions or enlist some friends to help you. Tomorrow, I’ll share how I wrestle with these questions.
Lord, help us to open ourselves to your point of view when it comes to understanding your Word. Teach us how to track your redemptive Story in the Jewish Scriptures and then to see how a Jewish New Testament writer, like Matthew, put the story together.
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