Matthew 2:13-23: The Refugee King
June 29, 2021
- Context for Bible Study
- Historical context
- Literary context
- Biblical context
- Cultural context
- Religious context
- Political context
- Emotional Context
Read Sham’s Refugee Story
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
- King Herod
- “King of the Jews” (He was really King OVER the Jews)
- He was an Edomite
- Numbers 24:18 – Same prophecy that proclaims the “star of Bethlehem,” Balam also prophecies that the “star” will conquer Edom
- His mother was Jewish
- “Herod the builder”
- Was the greatest builder within Israel’s history up to that point
- This is why Joseph, a carpenter, started in Galilee because Galilee was an economic boom town
- “King of refuge”
- He built a series of refuges from Jerusalem back to Edom for covered retreat
- He was paranoid and crazy
- Romans stated it was “safer to be a pig of a butcher than from the family of Herod”
- “Herod the Great”
- Despite his cruelty, Herod was historically considered great due to ability to maintain order, build, and military prowess
- “Out of Egypt I called my son” – Hosea 11:1
- “When Israel was a child, I loved him; and out of Egypt I called my son”
- Levels of Hebrew interpretations:
- “p’shat” = simple
- “remez” = hint
- “drash” = allegory
- “sod” = secret
*Here, Matthew is using the “remez” style of interpretation and assigning prophecy about Israel to Jesus.
*Often, the OT text places typologies to Christ, but Matthew reverses it. He does not point Israel as leading to Christ, rather points Christ as representative of Israel i.e. “When Israel/Christ was a child, I loved him (see Christ’s baptism in Matthew 3), and out of Egypt I called my son”
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
- Matthew sets a backdrop that Christ as a “second Moses”
- Compare Herod story with Pharaoh – Exodus 1:15-22
- Many secular scholars think much of Christ’s life is fabricated because it is so similar to Moses, but thats EXACTLY what Moses said would happen!
17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:”18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.
- Ramah was the place of where children were loaded and shipped off to exile
*Matthew is associating Israel (and the story/pain of Israel) to Jesus, so here he associates the exile of Jesus to the exile of Israel, but also with promised hope!
- “16 This is what the Lord says:“ Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,”
declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.” – Jeremiah 31:16-17
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 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.”21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,
- “Archelaus” was just like his father Herod, without the greatness
- Joseph retreats to the district of Galilee under Herod Antipas who was more reasonable
*Note: Jesus lived as a refugee, in exile, and in hiding most his life!
23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
- No easy way around the tension around this piece: there is no OT prophecy that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene
- Three dominant views, two are viable:
- 1st View: He took a Nazarite vow
- Documented by some unnamed prophet
- Text does not state this
- Jesus broke Nazarite vow if he did (handled dead bodies, handled grapes, etc._
- 2nd View: From the Hebrew word Nezer which means “branch” which associates to Isaiah 11:1
- Messianic verse
- Matches the agricultural context of Nazareth
- 3rd View: “through the prophets” expresses a summary of multiple prophets; mainly Zechariah, Jeremiah, and Isaiah
- To be called a “Nezerite” meant to be some place not worthy of mention, a place of low expectation, a place that is a joke
- Similar to our version of “trailer trash”
- In John, Nathan says to Phillip, “Nazareth, can anything good come out of there?”
- Also, when Nicodemus defends Jesus at his trial and they respond, “are you from Galilee too?”
*Point here, after being a refugee in Exile, Jesus must hide simply for who He was. Before He demonstrated his divinity or character, He was hated, despised, hunted, and degraded for who He was! Much like many situations today!
What this Narrative Offers Us:
- Matthew intends to identify Christ not just to Israel, but to us
- Remember week 1: In order for us to get close to God, God had to get close to the pain
- God is with us!
- Inverse identification theology used to describe associations
- In Christ’s death on the cross, Christ covered Himself with Us so in our life we can be covered by Him OR God saw us on the cross so God can see Christ in us
*In order for Christ to be the King of our Refuge, He had to be the Refugee King because identification is the first step in fixing anything
What would Jesus say to Sham? I think Christ would say, “You know I was a refugee too”
- We start with Bible that leads to position, we do not start with political positions and read into bible
- How do we handle refugee crisis? Immigration crisis at the border?
- I think we start with the fact that “Christ was a refugee and immigrant too!”
- Christ does not care about our manmade borders or politics, He cares about people and so too, the church should be beyond politics focus on people!
- “No servant is greater than his master” –John 13:16
- If Jesus was a refugee, so we must be also!
- “To God’s elect, exiles/refugees scattered” – 1 Peter 1:1
- A refugee is someone who has left refuge in search of another refuge
*God is telling many of us “Get up, Escape! Now!” Be a refugee to this world and seek refuge in me!
*Truth is, the fear of being a refugee often overpowers the violence, trauma, and disorder in the refuge we are wanting to escape! Our situation may be poor, but there is security there.
- Common worldly refuge
- Substance (drugs, alcohol)
- Sex (porn)
*As a plug to Matthew 5 and Shema, “when your poor you can’t leave how you want, only how you can;” or “when your poor in spirit, you can’t leave how you want, only how you can!”
Guided Questions for Discussion
- Matthew is trying to identify Jesus to the history, but more specifically the pain of Israel and by extension the pain of us. How has Christ identified to your pain? Your life? Your situations and circumstances?
- Matthew intends to associate pain to fulfilled promise and hope. How has Christ offered you hope and remained faithful to promise THROUGH and in spite of painful circumstance?
- Does it surprise you that Jesus lived as a refugee, in exile, and in hiding most his life? How does that change your perspective of Jesus? His ministry? His teachings? His approach to people?
- Jesus was despised, rejected, hunted, and looked down upon simply for who He was at birth and the circumstances He was forced into. How does this relate to us today i.e. in our culture, community, politics, and personally?
- How does the fact that Jesus was a Refugee King help you receive Him as the King of your refuge?
- What worldly refuge do we take in our lives? Why is it so hard to leave? Fear? Lack of trust?
- God calls us to be refugees from this world for our sake. If Joseph and Mary remained within the refuge of Bethlehem, tragedy awaited them. Often, we look at sin from the perspective “God said don’t do that” without realizing the reason He tells us not to is for our own health and safety. What successful “escapes” have you accomplished in your life that bears witness to this fact? What sin refuge have you left that has ultimately proven better?
- The church is apolitical in that we operate above and outside cultural and/or political expectation, but often church positions get translated or manifested politically. What is the proper role and relationship of the church and politics? How have we wrongly equated or misapplied it? How has a growing knowledge of Jesus changed or challenged your political positions?
*Encourage everyone to read Psalm 46 in light of tonight’s study!