A Faithful Journey

Matthew 2:13 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.”

Last week we saw the worship of Christ Jesus as a baby by the wise men. This must have been a joyous occasion not only for the wise men who came so far to see the Christ child but also for Mary and Joseph. It was, no doubt, a sort of confirmation to them, more confirmation that this child God had miraculously given to them was truly the Messiah.

I mean think about it. We know truth from God’s Word, right? We are convinced of its truth. And yet sometimes, whether in confusion or emotional upset, or weariness or conflict, we may lack the faith required to be so convinced – I mean momentarily. A lot had already happened to Mary and Joseph, their lives had changed dramatically. They didn’t experience the marriage and honeymoon that we may see as normal. Nothing had been normal for them.

And so the coming of these wise men and hearing them declare, really what Mary and Joseph had already been told by God about their special son, this would have been great comfort and laced with joy. Even the heavens were giving testimony about the Christ as the star led the wise men to the child.

They had gotten past the miraculous and, humanly speaking, scandalous pregnancy, they had completed their travel to Bethlehem. They finally found a room where the baby had been born, the wise men had come with gifts and confirmed to them that this is the Christ child. Maybe now, things would settle down a bit. Maybe normal would come to them now. I am just saying this is how I would have thought, I think.

Well, God had other plans, plans that would require faith and obedience on the part of this young couple. It would be a time for them to trust God and His sovereign plans. But you know it is always that time – for them and for us. It is always time to trust in God and in His sovereign plans. It is always that time.

I just think that we pass through hard times with the thinking that, "Okay, now it is time to trust God." And we get through something hard and then we think, "Okay, that is over, back to normal." But what I am saying is that the "back to normal" time is also time to trust God, to live by faith, to believe and trust God.

It seems I am quoting Galatians 2:20 a lot lately, but here it is again, relevant to this passage and to us every day.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We want to know everything that is coming with plenty of advance notice. You know, time to prepare. But God does not always allow for that. The key is that we stand ready to obey, to believe, to trust, to walk by faith. Mary and Joseph were given instruction, they had to act, they had to believe.

The news they were given was new to them, it may have seemed like it came out of nowhere, but it was not new to God and it came from His mind. Here God let them in on His plan with urgency, with very little notice.

Matthew 2:13 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.”

Joseph had another dream, direct revelation from the Lord through an angel. The wise men had only recently departed, the joyous worship and the drama of the men being in their home and stirring up the city had just settled down, and now an angel appeared and said, “Go.”

I’m really curious about Mary’s response, but we don’t have it other than she went with Joseph. Joseph is the one who had the dream, the convincing, divine dream. Mary’s trust was of God, but it also involved trusting the husband that God gave her. Not that he was perfect or always made the right decisions, only that God had put her under his authority and so trusting God for her meant submitting to her husband as well. We don’t have any indication that she balked at this instruction at all. But you’ve got to wonder what was going through her mind. Maybe we will hear that part of the story in heaven!

This young couple needed to obey God and to obey Him quickly. They were to flee. The Greek word here translated flee is where we get the English word refugee. They were to run like refugees, and the tense indicates that they were to begin now and not stop until they got to Egypt. The trip would have been around 175 miles to get to a place within Egypt where they would be safe. That is a long way to travel in the first century with a baby, without time for planning.

It is easy to read this story as most of us have many times and not think much about it. "Go to Egypt," God says. "Go now and go quickly." Okay, so they went. But this was a major journey – when traveling was dangerous – without planning and with a baby. This was Joseph and Mary trusting God in a difficult trial. This would be like walking from Dallas to Houston with a baby. But God said go, and they did obey.

In this instance (and we see others that are not this way) God told Joseph through this dream why he and Mary and the baby should flee: ”for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” To know that someone is out to destroy your child would be frightening and would add to the urgency of the fleeing. God did not have to give them a reason, though He did here.

In other instances, maybe in most where we see God at work in the Bible, we also find that those who are told to obey or to endure a trial, they aren’t given the details about it. When God told Abraham to leave his land, he wasn’t told by God where to go, much of his leaving his home was a mystery. When Job suffered terribly with physical pain and illness and loss of loved ones, he was never told why all that happened.

God is not obligated to show us the whole picture in the events that we face. He does not have to share with us all the whys of what goes on around us. This is why we walk by faith.

Speaking of faith, it is in Hebrews 11 where we see many people who chose to live by faith in God. There are, in that chapter, about eighteen people mentioned who lived by faith, and other general instances of additional people who did as well in trying times. After that great chapter on faith we read this in chapter 12:

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

This is a word to us: live by faith. Faith is not seeing what is ahead, but trusting God anyway. “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith”

When I was a kid, a freshman in high school, I remember one of the oddest football games I ever played in. This game was played on a Saturday morning and it was so foggy that, I remember the coaches had to stand on the field to see what was happening in the game. The referees let them actually stand over the sideline marker because they couldn’t see otherwise. It was late in the game and we were behind. I was at the time playing wide receiver. The coach called the play and it was a long pass play intended to go to me as a receiver. We called this type of play a timing pattern, and what that meant was the receiver would run down the field in a full sprint, the ball would be released by the quarterback before the receiver looked back, and if it worked correctly then just as the receiver raised his hand to receive the ball and looked back, the ball would be in his hands. The timing had to be near perfect, and to work it had to be practiced over and over and over again, the timing between the receiver and the quarterback had to be right on. Now, I told you about the fog, right? We ran the play, I sprinted down the field, raised my hands just as we had practiced it, looked back and never saw the ball until it touched my fingertips. It was like I was the only one on the field. I saw no one, only fog, and the ball was in my hands. My greatest play ever and no one saw it! The coach couldn’t see, the other players, the fans, no one saw it except one lone referee.

In that instance, I was not playing by sight. I simply did what I was supposed to do in the way I had been told to do it. The quarterback did the same, releasing the ball into the fog. And in this instance it worked.

I think too often we look at life and think, if I can’t see what is happening, or if I can’t see the wisdom in how this will turn out, then I’ll just do something different, I’ll do it my way. Our obedience is not to be subject to how we think things will work out. Obeying God is meant to be a walk of faith, our lives are to be lived by faith, we are to trust God whether in the fog or in the light. We are to obey when we can comprehend the good, and when we cannot.

Mary and Joseph obeyed, they pulled up whatever roots were there and did as God instructed them to do. They were to remain in Egypt until Herod died.

Now, how do we know that this did not catch God off guard, that this was no surprise to God? Well, because centuries earlier God said through Hosea that the Messiah would be in Egypt, come from Egypt. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Hosea spoke that, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” It is fascinating that these words, this prophecy came from the book of Hosea. The setting of Hosea is one of utter failure by God’s people. It is a story of the unfaithfulness of Israel toward God. The book is told and the failure of Israel is illustrated in the life of Hosea and his wife Gomer. Gomer was an unfaithful wife, a prostitute. She went after false gods and chased after lovers other than her legitimate husband Hosea. But in this sad tale of an unfaithful spouse, God commanded Hosea to go after his wife and bring her home.

Hosea 3:1 And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods

Hosea obeyed and bought back his wife, bought her freedom, brought her home, and returned her to a place of honor as his wife. It is a story of God’s faithfulness in spite of an unfaithful people. Hosea 11:3-4 tell of this:

3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. 4 I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.

God promised to bring Israel back to Himself. The prophecy from Hosea says this:

Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

When Matthew quotes this passage he tells us it was a foretelling of the Christ who would go to Egypt for a short time and then return. Christ is the faithfulness of God and the redeemer of His people.

This entire passage is one of God’s faithful work in Mary, Joseph, and Jesus’s life, of His faithfulness toward Israel, of His faithfulness toward us. He preserved Jesus, protected Him as a baby, and in that made it possible that we can know Him, be saved by Him, and live our lives for Him.

This faithfulness ought to melt our hearts, ought to spark a renewed desire to live our lives in obedience to Him. He is our life, God made it so, and now we can live by faith trusting Him.

If He can preserve Jesus and Mary and Joseph from a ruthless king, then He can work in us and preserve us until the day we leave this place and dwell with Him.

Let this add to your faith, renew your faith. Rest in the sovereignty of our almighty God who loves, cares, and will forever be faithful no matter what. Let this lead you to greater obedience, living by faith, obedient to His perfect, wise, and loving plans for you. He alone is worthy of all our worship, of all our praise.

Matthew 2:13 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.”