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Saturday, 26 December 2015

“Out of Egypt I called my Son.”

Matthew 2:13-23 

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.’
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 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.’
When Herod realised 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. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
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.’
(cited from Jeremiah 31:15)

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 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.’
So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 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, 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.

Who really is the Son of God? There is much controversy concerning the title of Son of God. Some love to make mockery of the fact that God has a Son. They love to speculate as to how a Son might be born to God and who His mother might be giving rise to all sorts of blasphemous heresies. We do not need to investigate any of them, they are depressing and dangerous. I would not even recommend that you bother to research them, they will only feed your soul with dangerous doctrine.

Our quest this morning is to consider who God is referring to when through the prophet Jeremiah He speaks of calling His Son out of Egypt. There was clearly a very practical outworking of the prophesy as Joseph took his family for a while to Egypt for their safety. However our purpose this morning is to explore the theme of God's Son.
There are a number of times when individuals and also angels are referred to as God's sons but there is one important theme of sonship that runs through the bible that is our help today. The theme has three parts and so we will consider them very briefly.
The bible refers to:
  1. Israel as God's chosen son.
  2. Jesus as God's given Son.
  3. The church as God's adopted son.
Israel as God's chosen son:
Exodus 4:21-23 The Lord said to Moses, ‘When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, “This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so that he may worship me.’ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’
Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’
But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’
The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’
Jacob,’ he answered.
Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’
Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’
But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.’
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
A man came to Jacob and wrestled with him, he changed Jacob's name to Israel in recognition of the struggle that they had had that night the reason being that it was God who Jacob had wrestled! Jacob afterwards recognises that he had seen God face to face. But yet it was a man, that is the point it was the God man! Whenever God appears as a man it is Jesus who the writer to the Hebrews tells us is the same in the past, in the present and in the future.
Jacob was chosen by God to become the father of the nation of Israel. Abraham before him had become the father of the people of faith and also of a family set apart by God. Jacob was to go on and have 12 sons who would constitute a family nation that God had ordained to bring forth the Messiah.
When Jacob was an old man; due to a famine Joseph his firstborn son by Rachel brought all of Jacob's family into Egypt to save them from starvation. After 400 years in Egypt many of which were as slaves God brought His people out and eventually led them into a land of their own. Pharaoh king of Egypt did not want to let the Israelites go even though nine progressively difficult plagues had been brought upon his people. It required drastic measures to persuade Pharaoh that God meant business. Moses had to go to him a final time with the final demand:
This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so that he may worship me.’ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’
God says that Israel is God's firstborn son and as such Pharaoh will release them but only through the sacrifice of their own firstborn sons.
Can you see the pattern here, Israel comes into being through Jesus and are released from slavery by the death of the firstborn of Egypt. They were passed over from receiving the same judgement due to the sacrifice of an innocent victim. The spotless lamb that died on their behalf that night saved them from judgement.
God was pleased to call His chosen nation His son. They were chosen not because they were better than any other nation but because God had a purpose for them. In Exodus 19 God revealed that purpose to Moses as he was on Mount Sinai:
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.’
Exodus 19:3-6
Israel as sons of God were to represent Him to the people of the world. They were to show a needy world that God expects His people to be holy but also to bring others to Him as priests do.
Jesus as God's given Son:
We are now back to our Christmas day message, God's gift to the world is His One and only Son. He is Immanuel which means God with us and He is Jesus which means Saviour of His people. Just as Joshua who followed Moses saved the children of God from their wandering in the desert so Jesus saves His people from wandering around in their sinful state. The name Joshua is an Old Testament name meaning saviour equally Yeshua or Jesus is the New Testament name with the same meaning. The angel told Joseph to call Him Jesus because like His name-sake in the Old Covenant His purpose was to save His people. It is as God's given Son that Jesus perfectly saves all who belong to God.
God Himself declared Jesus to be His Son at His baptism; the first 3 gospels record that as Jesus came up out of the Water the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and God the Father declared Jesus to be His own Son whom He loves and is well pleased. The following day John records John the Baptist's sight of Jesus again and prompting him to declare that He is the Lamb of God! It was by the sacrificed lamb on the Passover that Israel God's chosen son were rescued from slavery in Egypt, it is by Jesus God's given Son that His people will be saved from their sin.
This theme of son of God is massive and would take many weeks to do it justice but for our purposes this Christmastime it is sufficient for us to see that by God's given Son the Old Covenant nation was called to witness to Him and also that by His sacrifice:

The church is God's adopted son:
The Old Covenant nation was a signpost to the fulfilment of God's promises made through them. They never achieved God's declared intention of them. They never were holy, they never brought the nations to God as a priest ought to do. Israel failed in so many ways but Jesus calls a people to repentance for the forgiveness of their sins through faith that the sacrifice made by Jesus' death and resurrection is sufficient for forgiveness of sin. Christians we are forgiven all of our sins and they are never to be accounted for again. You see that Jesus took them as if they were His very own and so they were fully dealt with as He died on the cross. We can never take them up again and God will never give them back, Christians we are a free people. Free from the bondage of sin, we are a new creation, no more in condemnation. We are a chosen people. The Apostle Peter says this:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2:9-10
Peter is taking the words of Exodus 19 and is applying them to the church who are now the perfect sons of God. Each one of us has been adopted into the family of God where we are heirs with Jesus, we are brothers of the Saviour and as such are true children of God. Not by right of birth but by sacrifice made by the Given Son of God. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:14-17
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were under age, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 3:23-4:7
We have the great privilege of being children of God. The Apostle John urges us to see:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!”
1 John 3:1
The popular song says “I wish it could be Christmas every day” that is foolishness if Christmas consists of:
When the snowman brings the snow
Well he just might like to know
He's put a great big smile on somebody's face
If you jump into your bed
Quickly cover up your head
Don't you lock the doors
You know that sweet Santa Claus in on the way
But Christmas is much more than a fairy tale be it in New York or anywhere else. It is all about the Son of God given that we might be sons of the living God. We celebrate the birth of Jesus every day but hopefully as we have been urged this Christmas never in isolation to the full gift which is the Son of God who is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

The ministry over Christmas has been to encourage each one of us to see Jesus more clearly. God has been encouraging us to rest in Him and to seek Him for the future. It is for this purpose that I produced the little New Year motto card and accompanying letter. It was when the disciples had been particulary busy that Jesus told them to come aside and rest awhile. He led them into the boat as we recently heard, He was with them and it was whilst He seemed to be inactive that they learned what the storms of life were about. Jesus was, is and always will be with His people. He cares for us beyond what we can imagine. We have gone through much in recent days but the Lord instructs us to come and rest awhile. Do not be surprised that as we learn to rest in Him that the storm continues and intensifies:
Jesus is always with us!
He will neither leave us nor forsake us!
He is an ever present help in times of trouble!
Therefore we will not fear but we will boldly come before the throne of grace and rest in the everlasting arms of our God.
2015 is a new calendar year, it is a year which we begin by resting in Him and seeking His blessing for us as the church here in Callington.

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