Monday, December 28, 2009

Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 2:3-6, 13-15 & 19-23

Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth

In today's Bible reading we read of the birth and early years of Jesus. Look at the Bible prophecies that were fulfilled in Matthew 2, alone. It certainly must have been confusing to the scholars to put together his birth in Bethlehem, his being called out of Egypt, and his being called a Nazarene.

In our familiarity with the story of Jesus' birth, we often miss the significance of the many details. Literally hundreds of years before this took place, God spoke these things to the prophets.

Micah, in chapter 5, verse 2 prophesied:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephratha, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old,from ancient days.

Hosea 11:1 states:

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

It is so important for us to realize the hundreds of prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in His earthly ministry. Why does that matter? It helps to solidify our faith, knowing that the writings of the Bible span thousands of years, and yet one message is significant in all of the books. Every book points to the Lord Jesus Christ; every prophecy in the Bible will come to pass exactly as it was written. As Christ came the first time, born of the virgin Mary, He most certainly will come again.

So how could the scholars of Jesus' day miss the fact that He was the fulfillment of the Messiah? The most obvious answer is that their hearts were blinded by their sin. How often do we see that in our day? People will often go a long way to disbelieve the Word of God.

What an amazing God we have! For Christians, the Word of God opens up a whole new way of life, filling our hearts with joy. Yet, to the non-Christian, the Word of God is a sword, piercing their very hearts.

As we think of the fulfillment of the prophecies that Christ would come from Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth, we must thank God that He has revealed the truth of His Word to us.

Go out this day, knowing that everything that God has prophesied will most certainly come to pass, and He will come again to receive His people to Himself.

Lord, God, hasten the day!

God Bless You,

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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