God’s Plan Unfolding.
“This fulfilled what the prophet had said.” – Matthew 2:23 NLT
Four different times in this passage we read of events that were in direct fulfillment of prophetic writings recorded hundreds of years earlier. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not as a result of random chance, but in direct fulfillment of God’s divine plan that He had put in place long before the creation of the world. In these 23 verses, we see God’s perfect plan unfolding with precision. It is not coincidence that Herod the Great is on the throne, operating as the Roman-appointed king of Israel. He was a tyrant, a ruthless and wicked man who had murdered members of his own family to protect his position as king. Two years after Jesus’ birth, Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus are still living in Bethlehem. Wise men from a distant country, arrived in Jerusalem, seeking information regarding the newborn king of the Jews. It seems these men somehow knew that the star that had appeared in the sky was a premonition of something new that was happening. How they linked it to the birth of a new king in Israel, we are not told. But their arrival on the scene in Jerusalem and their questions regarding the birth of the Messiah, deeply concerned King Herod. Unwilling to tolerate a potential threat to his throne, he begins to plot how to discover and eliminate this usurper. Through it all, God is in control. He warns Joseph to take his wife and the child and escape to Egypt. What is amazing is that the funds for this costly trip would have been provided by the gifts of the wise men. The gold, frankincense and myrrh could have easily been liquidated into cash used to pay for their trip and the accommodations they required while living in Egypt. This trip and their time in Egypt were also in direct fulfillment of God’s Word. As the children of God had found themselves exiled to the land of Egypt and then rescued by the hand of God, so the Son of God would spend time exiled into this foreign country. But God would bring Him back and restore Him to the land.
Upon hearing that the wise men had refused to return to Jerusalem and give him word regarding the whereabouts of this newborn king, Herod’s anger erupted and he unleashed his fury on the innocent children living in Bethlehem. His pogrom of infanticide was also a fulfillment of what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah. Herod, acting as an enemy of God, failed in his attempt to eliminate the Messiah. This would not be the last time that the enemy would attempt to thwart the plan of God in order to prevent the Messiah from fulfilling His role as Savior.
At just the right time, God gave word to Joseph that it was safe to return. But rather than return to Bethlehem, God directed Joseph and his family to Nazareth. This would become Jesus’ home town for the next 30 years of His life. He would live there in relative obscurity and anonymity until it was time for His earthly ministry to begin. All in fulfillment of God’s meticulously detailed plan. All had happened as God had ordained it. No mistakes, no coincidences, no human intervention or unexpected occurrences. It all was unfolding just as God had planned it. Right down to the smallest detail.
Father, it is amazing to think that this story was written long before mankind even existed, before there was a Jewish people or a Roman nation. You came up with this plan before Abraham was chosen or David was anointed king of Israel. And yet I still worry at times that You are not in control or are incapable of seeing my through my current circumstances. Help me rest in Your sovereignty and power. You are in control, at all times, and over all things. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men