And just as Pharaoh, that cruel king, had tried to destroy Israel, so another cruel king by the name of Herod was attempting to kill the son of God. Just as God protected his son Israel in Egypt and delivered them, so God protected Christ his son in Egypt and delivered him. The Messiah is a recapitulation of the picture in Israel. There are many miracles that get our attention at Christmas—the virgin birth, the Star of Bethlehem, the angels appearing to the shepherds, and much more. Yet even more important than the miraculous circumstances of Christ's birth is the reason that he came.
And that's John MacArthur's focus today on Grace to You as John continues his series titled The Birth of the King. Before the lesson, though, John, it won't be long before many in our listening family start heading to Christmas celebrations with their own families. And so, with that said, what encouragement would you have for our listeners as they look toward December 25th? Well, I think, again, it's the one time in the year when it's sort of allowed to talk about Christ, even in the most resistant environment, even in the face of people who really don't have any interest in Christ. It's an unavoidable reality at Christmas, and I think it just reminds us of the advantage that we have.
As long as this is the conversation anyway, you need to turn that conversation to the realities of why he came and make sure you prepare the gospel. I think you can be circumspect in the way you do that. It's wonderful to ask questions. Do you know about Christmas? What do you think about the realities of Christmas? Did you know, for example, whatever you might want to tell them that isn't common knowledge?
Maybe you know some of the back story of Christmas? I just think you need to introduce the conversation at a time like this, because this is the time when it's in the general conversation anyway, so it's not an intrusive time. And I also think very often we pass each other like ships in the night, and we don't get the time to sit down and really talk and interact over things, because life is so busy.
But this season seems to put people in groups for a longer period of time. Maybe it's a party, maybe it's a family visit, maybe it's around a table and a meal. And it lends itself to a more full and rich conversation about Christmas, which can lead to you explaining the significance of Christmas. And I would just add as a footnote, don't expect an immediate response, because the task is to start by sowing the seed, and then maybe God comes along and waters it, and eventually God may choose to give the inquiry. So make sure you take the opportunity to speak of Christ and see how the Lord might use that.
That's right, and thank you, John. Now, friend, to help prepare you for conversations you might have with non-believers in the next few days, and to encourage you with powerful truth about the reason Jesus was born, here's John MacArthur continuing his Christmas study titled, The Birth of the King. Matthew, as we know by now, is presenting Jesus Christ as the King, presenting Jesus Christ not only as the King, but as the King of Kings, not only as the King of Kings, but as the anointed of God. In other words, he is God's special choice as King, the monarch of all men, the monarch of all time, the ruler of the universe. And Matthew is starting out from the very beginning of his gospel, of his look at Jesus Christ to do this. He just begins that way in the flow of the kingship of Christ, the royalty of Christ, the regency of Christ, just goes right on through all 28 chapters. And even surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, it is Matthew's special emphasis that we would see Jesus as King. Jesus, it says in the Old Testament, the anointed, the Messiah, the Messiah, the Christ, the King, the one who is to come, the great prophet, will be associated with Bethlehem, Egypt, Ramah, and Nazareth. All four of those things will have a place of significance in his birth. Now let's look at these. They are so specific as to eliminate any pretender and so specific as to solidify the real claimant to the throne, the Lord himself.
Let's begin with the first one. We'll call it the birth at Bethlehem, the birth at Bethlehem. And for that, Matthew quotes Micah 5, 2, and says, out of Bethlehem, Jesus comes, little insignificant Bethlehem from which no one would expect a great monarch, from which no one would look for a king, and that's precisely from where the king will come. The king comes to Bethlehem. The birth is Bethlehem. Mark it, nobody throughout all the history of God's dealing with Israel who ever claimed to be the Messiah has any right to that claim if he was not born in Bethlehem.
That's the place. The king comes to Bethlehem. The birth is there. Now let's move to the second prophecy.
We've already discussed that one in great depth. The birth at Bethlehem, and in that birth we see homage from the wise men, hatred from Herod, but we see prophecy number one fulfilled. That's important to Matthew. The king will come to Bethlehem.
Mark it. Jesus did. Now number two, the second I call the exodus to Egypt. The exodus to Egypt. Now we're in verse 13. And when they were departed, that is the wise men, the magi, an angel of the Lord appearth to Joseph in a dream, saying, and remember now, this is not a dream like you think of a dream.
This is a semi-conscious state where there is not a dreamed up idea in the fantasy of the human mind. There is an actual confrontation with an angel, something unique to biblical periods of Revelation. It happened to Peter when he was trying to get some sleep up on the rooftop in Joppa. And so it was a special kind of dream, and an angel appeared to Joseph. And he said, arise and take the young child and his mother, and note that every time you'll see those two together, you'll always see the child named first, because he is the story. Flee into Egypt and be thou there until I bring thee word, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. Now the wise men, or the magi, departed according to the beginning of the verse. When they got away, they were warned of God, verse 12 says, in a dream also that they shouldn't return to Herod, and they departed their own country another way. The devices of men can never thwart the plans of God, as Pharaoh was prevented by God from destroying the Israelites by a divine intervention on God's part, so Joseph is divinely warned to escape just as the wise men were. God is protecting his son.
God is protecting the Messiah. And the land of Egypt, which had once been a place of bondage and a place of oppression, now becomes a haven. It now becomes a home. It now becomes a hiding place. It now becomes a refuge for the little family escaping from imminent danger. Notice, he says, arise and take the young child and flee. Interesting Greek word.
Fugai, from which we get what? Fugitive. Flee.
It's a present imperative, which means it's continuous action. Begin the process of fleeing. It was a long trip, 75 miles to the border of Egypt and at least 100 miles further into the heart of the land. It could be 175 miles that they went.
And that would take days and weeks because they couldn't move too fast with the baby. And they were to flee to Egypt, a trip of many, many days. Now, let me talk about Egypt for a minute at this point in history so you'll understand what's happening. Egypt was a natural asylum for the Jews, especially from the time of the Maccabean Revolt. Now, let me give you a little background real quick.
It won't take me but 30 seconds. Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there was a period of rule in Israel in which the Greek government ruled. Rome we find ruling in the New Testament. The powers in the Old are Babylon and Medo-Persia.
That little gap in the middle is Greek power. During the Greek period, there was a revolution. That revolution was led by some people named the Maccabees, a Jewish family.
They sort of got the revolution going. And from the time of that Maccabean Revolution in what's called the intertestamental period, many Jews at that time began to flee into Egypt. Even prior to that, now mark this, even prior to that, Alexander the Great had set up the fact that Jews could live in Egypt. In fact, in one particular city of Egypt, which was his special city, have you heard of the city of Alexandria?
He named it that after himself. And so when he conquered Egypt, he set this city together, Alexandria, and he allowed the Jews to have that city as a place of refuge. They could go there. They could come there. They could populate that area. So Egypt became rather highly populated with Jews. And it was a place of refuge and a place of safety and security where you wouldn't have to fear anything. And I personally believe that the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were God's provision for the little family so that they could dwell in Egypt.
Because that would be very valuable. And no doubt they could sell that and trade that off for the things they needed to live on, at least until Joseph could find some work for the months in which he was there. But the main reason they were directed there was simply because that is exactly where the Old Testament said the Messiah had to go. Now I'm not sure they knew that. At the time, in fact, I'm pretty sure they didn't know that because of the obscurity of the Old Testament text. But God knew it and God was working out the plan. Now Herod wanted to kill them and Herod was just a pawn. It wasn't really Herod. It was the devil.
It was Satan who was a murderer. And so they were then sent into Egypt and notice the end of the verse. Be thou there until I bring thee word for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. God knew Herod's mind. God knew Herod's plot. He couldn't be a hypocrite with God. He couldn't fool God at all. The angel said, I'll be back and you stay there until I come back and give you further word. So there was a promise that the angel would return. Now people, it is absolutely incredible what some pea-brained people have come up with about what went on in Egypt.
Let me just say this. The only thing we know about what went on in Egypt is in verse 13. Now does that tell you a lot? Flee into Egypt. Stay there until I tell you.
That's it. And yet there are literally volumes written on what went on in Egypt. Now the Jewish rabbis in the Talmud believed that Egypt was the center of sorcery. And there were many Jews that taught that Jesus went into Egypt when He was young, learned sorcery, came back out and conned the world into believing He was the Messiah. Now that's a Jewish teaching about Jesus Christ.
And they get that all into white spaces in verse 13. He went into Egypt. Well, all we know about it is that He went into Egypt and that's all we know. And He stayed there.
But believe me, He didn't learn sorcery and come out and con the world by His magic. He went to Egypt because that was a part of the prophecy. Joseph obeyed the angel, verse 14. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt.
He went. In the darkness, it says, by night they escaped. And I'm sure they didn't tell anybody because if the word got out at the pace they could go, which would be so slow, Herod's soldiers would be hot on their trail and it would be a disaster. And so I'm sure they just stole away at night and never told a soul. And by the way, Matthew omits the details because he's not concerned with the details.
He's concerned with the prophecy. Now look at verse 15. And was there, departed into Egypt and was there until the death of Herod.
Stop there. They stayed till Herod died. I don't believe it was very long. He died shortly before the Passover in March or April of 4 B.C.
It would just be a very brief time, maybe a couple of months. It's hard to be sure, but that might be a fair guess. Look at verse 19, which picks it up again. It says, when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. So it was when Herod died that the angel came back and said, now you're all right.
Now you can go. So sometime after they left, Herod died. And then the angel appeared. But why did they go to Egypt? What was the prophecy?
Look at the end of 15. All of this, not that they might be saved. God could have done that any way He wanted. You see, God wanted to verify the credentials of the Messiah. And so He attached it to a prophecy. And it says, in order that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet. Listen, that's one of the most important statements you'll find anywhere in the Bible.
Because it tells you that the prophets who wrote the pages of the Word of God were inspired by God Himself. Spoken by the Lord through the prophet saying, out of Egypt have I called my son. In other words, the Old Testament prophet was saying that the son, the king, the anointed, the Messiah, the Christ is to come out of Egypt. Well listen, how could the child come out of Bethlehem and out of Egypt unless God worked some marvelous circumstances? God had set it all up long ago with Alexander the Great. God got Egypt ready for a couple of months stay when He came there as a child. God runs history.
And it all comes together in His plan. Out of Egypt have I called my son. Where does that come from? Hosea chapter 11 verse 1. Hosea chapter 11 verse 1. Now I want you to see something of the context of that prophecy. Hosea 11 verse 1 says, When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called my son out of Egypt.
Now notice something very interesting there. To whom does he refer in Hosea 11 verse 1? Who is the son there? Israel.
Who is the son here? Christ. How can that be? Some people have said, well now wait a minute. When the prophecy was given, it was given in reference to a historical statement about Israel. There's not even a prophecy there. It's a past thing.
When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called my son out of Egypt. And any Bible scholar who studies the book of Hosea will simply tell you God is reflecting upon the time when He called Israel out of bondage in Egypt. Now what's the prophecy? It isn't future. How does it relate to this thing?
Well, that's what we want to talk about. Let me give you the message of Hosea for a minute. The message of Hosea is one of failure. It's one of decadence.
It's one of tragedy in Israel. Hosea looks at Israel and says, You've been disobedient. You've been unfaithful. You've been sinful. You've been decadent. In fact, he says, You are a spiritual harlot.
You are a spiritual prostitute. You are a spiritual adulterous, he says to Israel. In fact, this is the worst condition Israel's ever been in, when Hosea writes. Now he is pouring out against Israel these judgments.
You harlot, you adulterous, you prostitute, you whore is a term that's used. This is what you've been, unfaithful to God who betrothed you, racing after false gods who have become your lovers. Hosea really dramatically illustrates this with his own life. God brought into his life the most tragic personal experience you could ever imagine. He married a woman. Her name was Gomer.
That's a bad start. But anyway, he married her. And she was untrue. And she became what the Bible calls a wife of whoredom. She ran off after every lover that she wanted. She went after so many lovers.
I'm sure Hosea lost count. She conceived children by these lovers. And dear Hosea's heart was so filled with love for her that he just waited and took all of this abuse. And it shattered his heart. She was a slave to the sins of sex. But he deeply loved her. And dear old Hosea, instead of rejecting her, instead of turning her off, instead of walking away, found her at the haunt of her shame, sought her out, went in there and laid out 15 pieces of silver and brought in a homer and a half of barley and paid and said, here, I'm going to buy her back. And he bought back that harlot. He bought back that prostitute, restored her to the place of his wife, restored her to the place of honor and gave back to her all the love that she had spurned. That was his own personal experience. And he says to Israel, he says, look, when I talk to you about how God's heart is broken by your spiritual idolatry, I know what God feels. I've been there.
That's what he's saying. Just as Hosea had married Gomer, God had become Israel's husband. Just as Hosea loved her, God loved Israel. Just as Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea, so was Israel unfaithful to God. Just as Gomer was enslaved by her lovers, so was Israel enslaved by her idolatrous idols. Gomer put her trust in lovers and they made her a slave.
Israel put her trust in idols and they made her a slave. And just as Hosea's tender love reached out and bought back his wife, so Jehovah reached out in love and took back the remnant that was willing to come back. That's the message of Hosea. So when Hosea's heart was broken, when he had seen the idol and the ideal of his dreams wrecked before his eyes, when he had suffered the worst agony that a human being could ever know, then God said, Hosea, now you know how I feel. Now be my preacher.
Now tell them what's in my heart. Now make them understand and this tragic training of the prophet is at the heart of his message. And God wants Israel to know how much he loves them. And God wants Hosea to know how much he loves them.
And God wants Hosea to know how much this hurts. And so he says in 11-1, look, when Israel was a child I loved him. This love affair for an adulterous wife goes all the way back to when Israel was a child. And it was then that I called my son out of Egypt. This isn't something late.
This isn't way down the line. This isn't sort of the last lover in a long line. This is the one that I started to love when Israel was a child. In other words, this passage emphasizes the incredible love that God has for Israel and always has had. From the time Israel was just a child and in bondage in Egypt, held under the power of Pharaoh, it was then that God set his love and sought to redeem his people. When Matthew quotes Hosea and applies it to Christ, what's that saying? He says here, this is that which was spoken by the Lord that the prophet would be fulfilled.
Out of Egypt have I called my son. And here, beloved, you're introduced to one of the most fabulous concepts in all the Bible. We call it types. Israel is a type of whom?
Christ. You know what a type is? A type is a non-verbal prediction. It is a non-verbal prediction. A prophecy is a verbal prediction of a future event.
A type is a non-verbal prediction. There are texts in the Old Testament that tell us God is going to send a Savior who will die. There are other texts that don't say that. They just tell us about the sacrifice of a lamb. But every little lamb that ever died was a picture of who?
Jesus Christ. A non-verbal picture. And listen to me, non-verbal predictions called types in the Bible are no less potent, no less powerful, and no less direct than a verbal prophecy. One of my favorite studies is the study of types.
I remember doing a paper in seminary which was so rich for me. I read in that area because it fascinates me. Great book by Patrick Fairbairn on types.
There's been tremendous effort given in that field. And I'll tell you what I believe about types. I believe, I'm kind of a narrow guy on this. I believe the only types, legitimate true types, are those stated in the New Testament to be a type.
Okay? Otherwise, we're going to do havoc with the Old Testament. You know, every hair on somebody's head is a picture of something.
We'll go wacko if we're not under control. So I believe that types are ultimately, now listen, types are ultimately fulfilled in and only in the New Testament writer's definition. So that Israel is a type because Matthew, inspired by the Spirit of God here, makes Israel a picture of Christ. What they were without even saying it is a picture of what He will be as God called His Son Israel out of Egypt. That is a picture of what He will do when His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is called out of Egypt. You see? That's a biblical type.
Non-verbal prediction. Jesus actually went back through the history of His people to fulfill the type, the picture. And just as Pharaoh, that cruel king, had tried to destroy Israel, so another cruel king by the name of Herod was attempting to kill the Son of God.
Just as God protected His Son Israel in Egypt and delivered them, so God protected Christ His Son in Egypt and delivered Him. The Messiah is a recapitulation of the picture in Israel, a type. And believe me, don't you ever underestimate the solidity and the absolute nature of biblical types. When the New Testament writer says that's a picture, that is what it was intended to be.
And I think that there's a sense in which the type here is even more than a type because there's a sense in which the bond is closer than that. Israel is not only a type of Christ, there is almost a bond that's indivisible in this sense. You see, Christ was in the loins of Israel then. And if Israel had never been brought out of Egypt, He would never have even been born.
So He was really there in a sense. Had Israel been destroyed, the Messianic prophecy could never have been fulfilled at all. So when Israel was called out, Christ came out then with them, didn't He? So the message of Hosea was long forgotten. The time of degeneration went on even to Jesus' day.
The days of Israel's whoredom and prostitution were still going on. But finally the prophecy of Hosea came back like a bolt of lightning out of the sky. Out of Egypt have I called my son. As of old, God loved Israel when a child had brought Him out of Egypt. So now His love centers on the Messiah. He brings Him out of Egypt. In fact, beloved, let me tell you something. The great prototype of salvation in the Old Testament is the act of God delivering Israel from Egypt.
That's the prototype. Let me add a footnote, and I love this thought. When the Lord Jesus returns in righteousness to reign over the earth, when He comes as King of kings and Lord of lords, did you ever notice what the prophets tell us? Just mark these down, Isaiah 19, Zephaniah 3.
Isaiah 19, Zephaniah 3. You know what they tell us? Listen to this. Don't look them up.
Just listen. When the Lord Jesus returns to reign in righteousness over the earth, one of the nations that is going to be given a special place of blessing in the millennial kingdom is Egypt. Did you know that? You say, Egypt?
Oh, man. You mean Egypt, the Egypt that held them in bondage, oppressed them, made them make bricks without straw? You mean rotten, idolatrous, phony Egypt. They've been so hostile to Israel. Could it be that the blessing of Egypt in the millennium is a token of divine gratitude for a country that granted sanctuary to the Son of God when He was a baby?
Maybe. So, the birth of Bethlehem, the exodus from Egypt. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us. Along with teaching here on the radio, John also serves as Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His current study is looking at how God came to mankind to bring salvation to needy sinners.
That's the title of John's study, The Birth of the King. And friend, a reminder that the end of the year is a crucial time for us. Year-end gifts from friends like you cover about a quarter of our annual budget. If you'd like to partner with us to keep verse-by-verse Bible teaching on the air, it's a great time to do that. So, thank you for expressing your support when you contact us. You can mail your gift to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. You can also make a one-time donation or set up a convenient recurring donation when you call between 730 and 4 o'clock Pacific time at 800-55-GRACE. That number translates to 800-55-47223, or you can donate online at GTY.org.
That's our website, GTY.org. And when you visit there, make sure to take advantage of the thousands of free Bible study resources, tools that are designed to help you understand and apply the Bible to your own life. At the website, you'll find blog articles, daily devotionals, more than 3,500 sermons, all free to download. You can also read those sermons in transcript format. And if you're not sure what to check out first, a great option is GraceStream. That's a continuous broadcast of John's teaching through the New Testament. You can find GraceStream and much more at GTY.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to tune in tomorrow when John looks at the prophecies Jesus fulfilled at his birth and why those prophecies are something to celebrate at Christmas. The birth of the King, that's John's study. Be here for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
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