This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet. “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matthew 2: 14, 15

 

As Matthew wrote down these words from Hosea 11, he was quoting a passage that was very dear to the Jewish people. The full text speaks to the love that God had for His people, Israel. It reminded them that God had rescued them from their captivity and that He had given them a dwelling place of their own. It also evokes the reality of the presence of God in their midst. It was a place to dwell; that is land to subdue and till, and the presence of God in that place that defined God’s chosen people. However, as he relates this passage Matthew’s eyes had been opened to understand the true meaning behind the prophet’s words.

 

Although at the time of their original writing Hosea was speaking about the nation of Israel, God meant much more than just that. He was also indicating the way that all people could be brought out of that place of exile where we had been taken as captives to sin. I think that a part of this entire narrative of the flight of Jesus’ family from the threat of death at Herod’s hands is related to the way that Jesus does, in fact, know from experience all that we do encounter in living in this world. Although He was just a child, I would imagine that Jesus did recall this time of exile and separation, and this understanding influences His ability to connect with each of us as we live apart from our true home.

 

Without Christ we are living in a form of what Hosea was calling Egypt. This is a place of utter separation from God. It is outside of His kingdom. It is a place where we can be as good as we can possibly be, work diligently and hard, and seek to do great good; yet, we will not truly accomplish anything of eternal worth or possess a place of dwelling in God’s presence. Christ understands that evil has taken our hearts and minds captive and that Satan is attempting to hold people as hostages for his own selfish purposes. Jesus, the Christ, leads us out of that kingdom of death. He brings us into the kingdom of God; then, Christ grants calling, mission and purpose to each of His people as we engage the work of bringing glory to God’s name.

 

 

But now thus says the Lord,

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel;

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43: 1

 

Are these the words of a proud father welcoming home a child who has gone a bit far beyond the boundaries of acceptable behavior? In a sense, yes they are. But the deviation from the standard of acceptability has been far beyond what most people would allow, and that defiant journey has involved the outright rejection of God and of His righteousness. Isaiah has just finished describing how much the nation of Israel deserves to receive God’s anger and punishment for their sinful thoughts and actions. Yet, here is God’s voice speaking words of comfort. The Father is reminding the people of their special place in His heart, and telling them that they are redeemed by His loving grace.

 

Although the Lord is addressing Israel specifically and directly here in Isaiah, I think that Paul’s words in Romans give us all a clear understanding of our equal place in God’s redemptive plan. So, I also think that anyone of any race or nationality can and should take to heart God’s words of warning and His promises of grace whether they are written in the Old Testament or in the New. There is no one, myself absolutely included, who has not been deaf and blind, who has not refused to see what God has made plainly evident, and who has not sinned against the Lord. We all stand with Israel in our guilt.

 

Yet that is the Lord’s point. He created and formed each of us; so, He knows us beyond any of our ability to comprehend. The Father does not desire for any of His people to live out our lives, to end our days and to spend our eternity apart from Him. In Christ He has provided us with the way and the means to end our period of separation and enter into life. But here is where the story of God’s promise to a nation known as Israel and our own individual narratives diverge. The Lord has promised an end of time restoration to something that He knows as Israel, and He has promised the opportunity to accept Christ as Lord and Savior to each of us so that we can be redeemed. God’s heart desires to call us by name; thus, Christ calls to each of us to accept Him so that God can truly call us by name saying, “Come to me my beloved child and know my peace.”