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Fleeing and Weeping (Matthew 2:13-23)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“Fleeing and Weeping”

(Matthew 2:13-23)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise  [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

July 29, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Many of you may have often heard this question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen? If He has the power to do all things, why does He allow bad things to happen?”

Indeed, we do claim to serve an all loving, all-powerful God; yet, bad things do happen in our world. 

This morning, we are going to look at a passage from Matthew 2 that has a very bad act being committed by an evil person. Where is God in all of this?

That’s what we’re going to talk about this morning. 

Let’s look at this passage together. 

Read the Passage

Read Matthew 2:13-23

13 After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called my Son.

16 Then Herod, when he realized that he had been outwitted by the wise men, flew into a rage. He gave orders to massacre all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

18 A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping, and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children;

and she refused to be consoled,

because they are no more.

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, because those who intended to kill the child are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother, and entered the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the region of Galilee. 23 Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

As you know, we are continuing our series throughout the book of Matthew. 

Thus far, Matthew has been showing us that Jesus really is the Messiah. Matthew has been showing us this in two ways:

First, we have seen that God is preserving and protecting Jesus because He was sent for a purpose. 

Second, we have seen that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the Messiah. 

We will see both of those factors present in today’s passage as well. 

I want to point out three actions taken from the passage this morning. 

First, we see that . . . 

I. The family would flee (vv. 13-15) [on screen]

Verse 13 says, “after they were gone.” That is, after the wise men were gone. 

After the wise men were gone, an angel appeared to Joseph again. We have angels appearing left and right here. God is at work!

Joseph is told to go to Egypt. Why?

Herod is about to search for the child. 

He will not be happy that the wise men did not return to tell him where Jesus was, so he will take matters into his own hands. 

Ok, notice how specific the angel is:

Again, they are told why they are to go: Herod will want to kill the child. 

They are told where to go: to Egypt. 

They are told how long to go: until the angel tells them to return. 

Once again, we see the faithful obedience of Joseph.

Of course, Joseph believed it was for his good to obey God’s plan. 

Listen, church: it is always for our good to obey God’s plan! Always!

Children and teenagers, it’s always for our good that God instructs us to do something. 

When He tells us to show love to others, that’s for our good. 

When He tells us to honor our fathers and mothers, that’s for our good. 

When He tells us to forgive others, that’s for our good. 

When He tells us to flee sin, that’s for our good. 

Always obey God and do so quickly and fully!

(pause)

So, Joseph obeyed and they moved to Egypt. 

Egypt offered security and distance from Herod’s killing. 

It’s worth noting that there was probably a large population of Jewish people in Egypt at the time, so Mary and Joseph would have been able to be a part of a community of their own people there. 

Then, another prophecy is fulfilled in part in the return of Jesus, out of Egypt, back to Israel. 

This is a partial fulfillment of the words of Hosea 11:1. 

Before they return, while the family is in Egypt, Herod unleashes his angry fury, which leads to our next point . . .

II. Bethlehem would weep (vv. 16-18) [on screen]

Let’s look at the passage again. Look at verses 16-18. 

Read Matthew 2:16-18. 

16 Then Herod, when he realized that he had been outwitted by the wise men, flew into a rage. He gave orders to massacre all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

18 A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping, and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children;

and she refused to be consoled,

because they are no more.

As we learned last week, an upset Herod was a bad situation. 

The Scriptures tell us that Herod flew into a rage. 

As a result of his rage, he committed an unspeakable evil. He killed every baby boy in and around Bethlehem. 

Obviously, this was devastating for the people of Bethlehem and it’s surrounding areas. 

Jesus, however, is safely in Egypt when Herod is committing this atrocity. 

Again, we see Jesus protected and prophecy fulfilled.

(pause)

Matthew shows that this, in part, is a fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15. 

Ramah was a town very close to Bethlehem, so it could have included the deaths of baby boys, as Herod said to do this “in and around” Bethlehem. 

This prophecy could also have been an example of the great weeping and mourning, meaning that it would be heard all the way in Ramah.

By the way, Rachel was the name of Jacob’s (or Israel’s) favored wife. Rachel represents the mothers of the children of Israel. So, “Rachel is weeping for her children,” refers to the mothers of Israel weeping for their children. 

So, we see that Bethlehem would weep. 

(pause)

As I mentioned earlier, a natural question as we read something like this is to ask, “How could God allow something like this to happen?” 

Concerning this question, I want us to remind ourselves of a few things. 

First, it is not our place to know completely how God works through the world. 

We know a lot about how God works because He’s revealed that to us through His Word.

However, we don’t know everything about how God works through the world. 

We don’t know why He allows some tragedies and prevents others. 

We don’t know why some hurricanes just blow over and others cause millions of dollars worth of damage. 

We don’t know why some people are healed of disease and others die from disease. 

We don’t know why some children have perfect happy families and others have broken families.

We don’t know the answers to all of these things. 

Second, this action is not a result of God’s sin, it’s a result of Herod’s sin. 

We must remember that God cannot and does not sin. 

He never does anything wrong. 

The terrible death of all of these children came as a result of Herod’s jealousy, rage, and the evil in his heart. 

Finally, here’s what I want us to see: the sin that caused the death of these children is exactly the reason that Jesus came. 

Remember, the angel told Joseph that Jesus would save His people from their sins. 

Jesus came to rescue us from our sin! From our own sins and from the sins of others!

This atrocity committed by Herod shows us why we needed Jesus to come!

God delivered Jesus from Herod’s sin so that one day Jesus could deliver us from our sin! 

He will delve run from the evil in our hearts and the suffering that sin brings. 

Finally, let us notice . . .

III. They return to Galilee (vv.19-23)  [on screen]

Let’s look at verses 19-23 again. 

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, because those who intended to kill the child are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother, and entered the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the region of Galilee. 23 Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Remember, we saw earlier in the passage that the angel told Joseph to stay in Egypt until he told Joseph to leave. Well, now he is telling Joseph to leave Egypt. 

He initially returns to the region of Judea but finds that Herod’s son Archelaus is ruling there. Instead, the family goes to the region of Galilee. In the region of Galilee, they settle in the town of Nazareth. 

Matthew points out again that this is a fulfillment of prophecy.

As a matter of note, this prophecy cannot specifically be found in the Old Testament. However, we can be sure that Matthew didn’t make a mistake here. He was very careful to point people to Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, so he wouldn’t have made a careless mistake. 

What probably happened here is that Matthew is referring to a prophecy that is not recorded in the Old Testament. Remember, the Old Testament does not include all the words that every prophet of God ever spoke, but only that which God wanted to preserve for the Bible. 

The other prophecies can be clearly seen in the Bible, and this seems to be an extra one that Matthew points his readers towards that is not in the Old Testament. 

Nevertheless, the family moves to Galilee to fulfill the Scriptures and to prepare to raise the child to become who He was born to be, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. 

Concluding Thoughts:

We see God working again in this passage. He is working to fulfill prophecy and to preserve Jesus. 

Further, in preserving Jesus He is working to preserve us.

Herod would not succeed through His evil act. 

That takes us to our bottom line:

Bottom Line: The evil of one king would be overpowered by the love of another king  [on screen]

(repeat)

Herod thought he had the power to do what he wanted, but God demonstrated again that His plan would not fail. 

People will do evil things, but God’s love is stronger. His love can overpower any evil, fix any hurt, rescue any lost person, and change any heart. 

God was at work in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth. He is still at work today!

He preserved and protected Jesus so that Jesus might preserve and protect us! 

(pause)

Let this passage soak into your hearts and minds this week. 

Challenge yourself in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Reflect upon God’s providence as seen in the events surrounding Jesus’ birth  [on screen]

This is the conclusion of Jesus’ birth and childhood in the book of Matthew. 

Spend some time this week reflecting through this section of Matthew again. 

Reflect upon God’s providence, how He is working out His will, through these events. 

  1. Challenge yourself to overcome evil with love in some way this week  [on screen]

For those of us who have been changed by the love of Jesus, we now have God’s powerful love inside of us!

We can respond to evil with incredible acts of love!

So, challenge yourself this week to find a way to show God’s love, which is always more powerful than evil!

Children, if someone treats you badly you can respond in a loving way, with the love of God. 

Adults, you can bless someone who is suffering by meeting their needs in the name of Jesus. 

Overcome evil with love this week!

  1. Tell someone the fascinating story of the coming of Jesus  [on screen]

As we’ve seen in the last few weeks, the story of Jesus is a fascinating story. 

Share this story of Jesus with someone so that they also may experience His great love. 

Closing:

As we conclude, let us remember how God worked through these events. 

God delivered Jesus from this sins of others so that we could one day be delivered from our own sin. 

Jesus would grow up and He would be killed one day, but He would willingly be killed to the pay penalty for our sins. 

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – The Savior is Waiting

Benediction:

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

Tonight we’ll join together again at 5:30 for part 2 of an Expedition through the Bible. We’re trying to learn the big picture of the story of the Bible. I heard some good feedback from last week, so I hope to see you here for part 2. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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