Thursday- Week 2
Flight to Egypt Prophesied
Rest on the flight into Egypt-1879, Luc Olivier Merson
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
When Israel was still a young nation, God delivered him (it) out of Egypt with a strong hand. Exodus 4:22 says,"Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son.."
What does the Lord call Israel in the Exodus passage?
[A child, His son.]
Why does He call Israel His firstborn?
[Calling Israel His son is figurative language, for just as Israel spent its infancy in Egypt, so would the infant Jesus. And, just as He called Israel forth from Egypt, to return to the Promised Land, so He would call out His Son to return to the same land of promise.]
How was this prophecy fulfilled in Jesus’ lifetime?
[“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.” Matthew 2:14-15]
The Flight into Egypt by H. Siddons Mowbray ca. 1915
"This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more."
Massacre of the Innocents
by Léon Cogniet 1824
This verse refers to the Babylonian captivity of Judah (586 BC). Ramah is a city just north of Jerusalem. At the time of the captivity, Ramah was where Nebuchadnezzar gathered all those who would either be killed, set free or deported to Babylon (Jeremiah 40:1). Obviously, this would cause great lamentation among the women left behind. However, Rachel is figurative language employed due to her role as the mother of the tribe of Benjamin [the tribes of Benjamin and Judah made up the southern kingdom of Judah] and because Rachel was buried in Ramah. Thus, Rachel metaphorically ‘laments’ the loss of her children to captivity and death.
What event does this Old Testament verse foreshadow in the life of Jesus?
[Herod's massacre of the baby boys of Bethlehem in his attempt to kill the 'King of the Jews.' His order was for those in 'Bethlehem and its vicinity,' of which Ramah would be included (Matthew 2:16-18).]
For Further Discussion
Why is there no historical accounts of this slaughter outside the Bible?
[There may be many reasons why we see no other record of this event. As stated in Micah's prophecy 700 years before -- Bethlehem was a tiny, insignificant hamlet. If the total population of Bethlehem was about 600, it would be feasible that less than 10% of that total was infants. Assuming half were males, it is conceivable that around 30 babies or so were massacred-- a relatively small number given Herod's penchant for mass killings. Historians believe that Jesus' birth was probably 4 BC. That same year, Herod burned 40 Jews alive for destroying a golden eagle he'd erected at the Temple. He killed his own son a about three years earlier. It is believed that this infanticide took place the same year of Herod's death. Given all of these factors, the massacre of a few Jewish babies could easily not make the 'news cycle' of contemporary historians.]
Close in Prayer
The age old question goes: 'Why do bad things happen to good (or innocent) people?'
Many people resort to using this as an excuse not to believe in and/or serve God. Ironically, the answer seems to be a two-edged sword. On the one hand, we cherish our own free will, but on the other hand we are dismayed by the results that come from everyone in the world having it. We believe it to be our fundamental right to choose God or not to choose God. People do not want God to make us follow Him, but they would like Him to make only good things happen. We can't have it both ways. God allows free will. People choose to do wrong. Our actions affect others.That means bad things will happen to good people.
But there is hope. Although God allows free will, He also works situations and world events ultimately for a good purpose that we cannot always see or understand. Our lives are too short and our scope and understanding too limited to take it all in. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." This is not a promise that everything will work out for our good, which is a common fallacy in Christian circles.
A popular trend in American Christianity is the idea that God is concerned with our happiness.
Yes, He does love us, but our happiness (which is a transitive state of being) is not God's concern. He makes it clear in this verse and throughout scripture that it's not about us-- it's about Him (Matthew 16:24). The promise in this verse comes with a two-part proviso.
God works all things for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose: i.e., God will ultimately work things out, but according to His will, for His glory and for our good. Sometimes His will and His glory mandate that our loved one still dies, or that we still lose our job, or our home. Sometimes that is the purpose we have been called to. Therefore, this promise is primarily an eternal one.
And yet, God does often choose to work things out here and now. Thus, we should pray for ourselves and others who suffer, knowing and believing that God is the only One who can remedy the ailments of a hurting and broken world. We pray knowing that He can heal, that He can rescue and that He can save that which is lost (Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 41:10; Luke 19:10).
We will never know here on earth why God chooses to heal or rescue some and not others. We probably wouldn't understand anyway (Proverbs 3:5-6). But we do have countless opportunities to counter some of the bad that happens around us (Psalm 82:3; Psalm 82:4; Galatians 6:9). Pray that you would honor God and your fellow human beings with your free will choices.
Make A Joyful Sound!
Choose a song from Song for Advent- Week 2 or choose your own.