Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Three-peat On Christmas Obedience

A Look At Prophecy In The Gospel of Matthew

Intertwined Vines

Obedience and Intertwined Prophecy


Matthew 2:13-18 NLT

13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”[a]
16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A cry was heard in Ramah—
    weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
    refusing to be comforted,
    for they are dead.”[b]


  1. 2:15 Hos 11:1.
  2. 2:18 Jer 31:15.


Twice before God has sent angels to deliver a prophecy to participants in the First Noel: 1.   to Joseph; 2.   to the wise men. If you refer to the Annunciation, there are three, but here we are referring only to Matthew's writing. Twice before the prophecies have been met with obedience. Obedience in action. A great example for those of us who believe today.

Now, again, an angel prophesies to Joseph. Again, Joseph models obedient faith. He does not argue with the messenger. He does not nit pit the words as Abraham his forefather did. Nor does he delay as we independent Westerners tend to do. Wise enough to see the signs and trust God's leading (instruction), he obeys quickly and without argument.

I wonder what turns in my personal history would have occurred had I obeyed quickly and without argument? What about your personal history? Your church's history?

                    NOTE:  This prophecy included a disclaimer. "Do not return until God says so" 
                    presumes continued listening on Joseph's part. What a great example to modern 
                    believers. We need to study this man more to understand a heart of obedience, a
                    life of obedience.


Hosea 11:1 links Jesus life to God delivering his people from bondage. How literal we get and miss the plain message of the text. Jesus life brings a new delivery from bondage -- to the Jews and to all who will believe on him (us). 

Remember the fear brought by word of a king of the Jews being born, the fear of having the Messiah come into their world in their day? Remember the words of prophecy that Hosea chapter 11 speaks to our day (lesson 1; lesson 2; lesson 3; lesson 4; lesson 5; lesson 6)? This quote for Hosea also links Jesus delivering his people from bondage to their/our refusal to obey and follow him.

This prophecy through Matthew speaks directly to our time, our day, our need, the churches' needs. By quoting it Matthew was speaking a prophetic word anew and also referring to the rejection of Jesus' words of life, in Matthew's day, and all the days of all the believers ever since. Indirectly, Matthew calls us to the radical of obedience of Joseph and the wise men.


But again the mention of this prophecy connects the Nativity story to an even greater prophecy. TAKE A MOMENT AND READ JEREMIAH 31.

Hope for Restoration - Jeremiah 31:1-14

"Tears of joy will stream down their faces,
    and I will lead them home with great care."

Those words are only a few in the awe striking words of Jeremiah 31:1-14. And now we, the New Israel, are co-opted into those words. What a day and life that will be!

Rachel's Sadness Turns to Joy - Jeremiah 31:15-25

After the horror of the slaughter of the innocents, Matthew speaks of the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15. Again this does not stand alone, it ties to the next ten verses  which begin:

"But now this is what the Lord says:
“Do not weep any longer,
    for I will reward you..."

What follows is a beautiful picture of God's restoration of his people, Israel and us. The terrors our unfaithfulness brings upon us do not need to remain permanent. God loves his children enough to discipline us and God loves us enough to restore and mature us. Our sins as believers do matter in ways that are not pleasant or fruitful, some of which are eternal in scope. 

But in love and grace the fruit of our evil need not be permanent. Our pain of discipline will turn to joy.

The Precursor of the New Covenant - Jeremiah 31:26-40

The sadness of Rachel, as the Jews knew, was a precursor to the coveted New Covenant. Were it not that Jesus' coming ushered in the New Covenant, the slaughter of the innocents would be a permanent stain upon the Nativity. Even so it is a sadness. But the New Testament declares that the words of Jeremiah 31 are being fulfilled in us.

"This is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”


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Photo Credits:
Intertwined Vines by Amy Palko some rights reserved

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