Sunday, December 14, 2008

Exodus reloaded

With Christmas approaching here is something from last year:

Here are some notes from the cutting room floor. I'm preaching on Matthew 1-2 next Sunday.

Every Christmas in the UK there are a number of classic films that are shown. Without fail we get treated to the likes of The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life and The Sound of Music. There are two other movies that almost always get shown, The Italian Job and The Great Escape. There was of course a remake of The Italian Job a few years back, but really how could it possibly compare to the classic original? Remakes rarely ever live up to original productions.

We are clearly meant to read Matthew 2 as something of a remake of earlier events. From 1:18-2:23 we are presented with five blocks of material that fulfill Old Testament patterns and prophecy.

Included among them is the calling of God's son out of Egypt. The reference from Hosea 11:1 (Matt. 2:11) looks backward to the Exodus and is the pattern for what will happen to Jesus, the true Israel as he retraces the nation's steps by being called out of Egypt and later as he is tested in the wilderness.

This is a remake of the original story that far outweighs and eclipses the deliverance by Moses. Unlike God's son Israel, Jesus will not prove disobedient in the wilderness. He will perfectly obey the Father and fulfill all righteousness on behalf of his people.

The connections between the Exodus and Matthew 2 go even deeper. Matthew presents us with Herod, a Jewish king, behaving just like Pharoah slaughtering the baby boys.

Then there is The Great Escape. It struck me that there is a verbal allusion in Matt. 2:19-21 to Exod. 4:19-20:
Matt. 2:19-21 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

Exodus 4:19-20 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt.
What a reversal! The king of Israel plays the part of Pharoah, and the land of Israel has become like the land of Egypt. Both reversals would seem to imply impending judgment.

And then of course we have the Magi fulfilling toward Christ exactly what Psalm 72 said that the nations would do. The Saviour is born, the true everlasting king from David's line. To make it clear that Jesus, unlike all of his royal ancestors, is the Saviour-King, the Magi are there worshipping him.

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