Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Monday, December 31, 2012
The Angel to Joseph, Leave Nazareth - New Year’s Eve - Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus - December 31, 2012 - Text: Matthew 2:13-15
The angels became very prominent in the work of the Lord at the time of the birth of Jesus. We began the Advent season talking about the angel that God sent to announce to Zachariah the birth of the one who would prepare the way for Jesus, John the Baptist. We went on to talk about the angel sent from the Lord who announced to Mary that she had found favor with God and would be the mother of God. We talked about the angel who was sent in a dream to reassure Joseph that it was okay to take Mary as his wife because what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. Last week, on Christmas Eve, we moved on to talk about the angel and the angels who were sent to announce the good news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. And last week on Christmas morning we move on to talk about the angel who was sent to announce to Simeon the birth of the Savior for whom he and the believing Israelites had been waiting, the birth of the Savior of the world. This evening we conclude our series of the work of the angels by talking about the angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream to instruct him in saving Mary and Jesus from the hands of King Herod.
Again, as we have done through the Advent season, before we get to the actual announcement, let us take a moment to look at the message receiver. This evening we have the angel again sent to Joseph and again rather than appear to Joseph as he did to Zechariah and Mary in person, the angel appears to Joseph in a dream. Now, remember, the angel had previously appeared to Joseph in a dream to assure him that it was okay to take Mary as his wife because she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. At this time the angel appears to Joseph in order to save him, Mary and especially the baby Jesus. The message recipient this evening is Joseph, the husband of Mary and father of Jesus.
The occasion or what precipitated the necessity of the angel appearing to Joseph was the fact that Herod was after the life of Jesus. Let me refresh your memory. After Jesus was born there were Magi or wise men from the East who saw the special star God put in the heavens to guide them to meet the Savior of the world. These Magi were not Jewish, but were Gentile and so were the first non-Jews to visit the baby Jesus, reminding us that Jesus came to save all people, Jew and Gentile alike. When the Magi came to Jerusalem they were instructed by Herod and his priests as to where the baby Jesus might be found and they were further instructed that after they found Jesus they were to report back to Herod, under the pretense that he wanted to worship the baby as well. After waiting for a length of time, perhaps a year, Herod realized that the Magi, the wise men, had tricked him.
As we know, looking back, as the story unfolds, Herod was not looking for the baby Jesus in order to worship Him, rather Herod feared for his throne and was looking for the baby Jesus in order to kill Him. Herod was rather a selfish and paranoid ruler. His life and rule were riddled with murder in order to keep his earthly throne and the search for Jesus was only a part of this miserable life.
Because Herod did not know where Jesus was or who He was, in order to destroy this competition for the throne he sent his soldiers to kill all the baby boys in the region where Jesus was born, the region of Bethlehem, that were two years old and under, just to make sure. And so was fulfilled the prophecy of the cry from Bethlehem Ephritha concerning the murder of these infants.
The Lord sent the angel to Joseph to deliver a message and the again the angel appears to Joseph in a dream. The message the angel delivered was that Joseph was to take the Child and His mother and leave for Egypt. Notice the Child is mentioned first because all of history is centered on this Child, His life and soon His death, resurrection and ascension.
The angel appeared to Joseph, delivered God’s message and Joseph believed the message and obeyed God’s direction through the angel. Joseph packed up his family and all their belongings from the house where they were now staying and began the trip to safety, away from Herod and his murdering soldiers.
Joseph took his family and moved to Egypt. Again we are told of the fulfillment of a prophecy concerning the fact that God would call His Son out of Egypt.
The typology of these events, the going down to Egypt and the coming up out of Egypt is important. Jesus came to be Israel. He came to do what Israel could not do, and for that matter, what we cannot do. So, just as the Lord sent Israel to Egypt in order to survive the famine and just as the Lord called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, so now the same is happening to the Lord’s own Son, Jesus.
Jesus coming out of Egypt, is the anti-type, except that His is true Israel, perfect in every way. So, Israel is the type and Jesus is the greater anti-type. Israel was called by God and set apart to be His chosen people and the nation through whom the Savior of the world would be born and Jesus is the anti-type, the true Israel who fulfilled all of what God commanded His people to do, but all they could not do.
The importance of this going to and coming out of Egypt is seen in typology and is an example and message to us of the same scenario today. Israel was called by God to live perfectly, to inhabit the promised land, to be God’s people and to be the nation through whom the Savior of the world, of all people would be born. Israel failed miserably in their calling from God. We have been called by God to faith. We have been called by God to be His people, to bear witness through our lives, our thoughts, words and actions that we are God’s people and yet we continually fail miserably.
And so Jesus came to do for Israel and to do for us what we are unable to do. Jesus came to live perfectly. And He did, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, being born in perfection and never sinning. Jesus came to fulfill all the law and the prophets perfectly. And He did, perfectly obeying all God’s laws and commands and perfectly fulfilling all God’s prophecies and promises concerning the coming Messiah.
And Jesus came to pay the price for sin, which He did after living perfectly and after taking all our sins upon Himself. He who was without sin, He who knew no sin became sin for us in our place. And He paid the price, the wage, the cost for our sins which is death, eternal spiritual death and hell for us, for Israel, for all people, of all places, of all times. Jesus suffered and died, and rose again for us. He showed Himself to be alive and then ascended back to the place from which He descended.
Jesus came to trade His perfect life for our imperfect life and to robe us with His perfect robes of righteousness. By faith in Jesus, faith given to us through our Baptism as well as through His Word, faith strengthened through confession and absolution as well as remembering our baptism, hearing God’s Word and through His Holy Supper, by faith we are robed in His robes of pure righteousness and we inherit eternal life in heaven.
What does this mean? Again we notice this evening, it was not Joseph who approached God. Notice also, it was not because he was blameless that God reassured him. If this statement were true, then we would naturally point to ourselves and we would be the reason that God does what He does. Because we know that we are not the prime movers, but that God is the Prime Mover, we know that it was God who chose Mary and Joseph as her husband. It was God who chose to give him directions in a dream in order to save the baby Jesus and his family by taking them to Egypt and later by bringing them back to Galilee. As always, it always begins with God.