Summary: In the best laid plans of man God intervenes to achieve His goal for humanity.
Flee to Egypt
In the best laid plans of man God intervenes to achieve His goal for humanity. After the magi presented their gifts to Jesus they were warned by God not to return to Jerusalem and tell Herod what they had discovered. It is possible they would have returned to Jerusalem if God had not told them not to return to Jerusalem. There was no reason why they wouldn’t do this. They didn’t know Herod was using them in his plan to kill Jesus. It is a fact of life those that do what is godly and honest believe that others will do the right thing. They don’t believe the world is as bad as it really is.
When the magi left the house an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt. Joseph didn’t know the danger Jesus was in because of the enquiry of the magi where Jesus might be found. Before their enquiry the obscurity of the Child was His protection. The angel of the Lord told Joseph what the danger was and how to escape the danger. He told Joseph, “Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him,” take the Child and His mother and “flee to Egypt.” In this life there are times when the wise thing to do is flee the evil in the world.
Why to Egypt? Egypt was a corrupt, degenerate, idolatrous nation and the enemy of God’s people. It had been a house of bondage to Israel, and particularly cruel to the infants of Israel, yet it is to be a place of refuge for Jesus. When it pleases God, He can make the worst of places serve the best of purposes because the earth is His and He can use it as He pleases. Like Joseph we should not fear going into places that are dangerous if God has led us to go.
The command to take Jesus to Egypt was a test of the faith of Joseph and Mary. They might be tempted to think, "If this child be the Son of God, as we are told He is, is there no other way to protect Him from a man that is a murderer of the innocence? Can He not send legions of angels to be His protectors or cherubim with flaming swords to strike Herod dead, or wither the hand that is stretched out against Him and save us the trouble of making this journey to Egypt?” Joseph and Mary had been told Jesus will be the glory of His people Israel. Under the reign of Satan’s servant Judah is the most dangerous place Jesus can be found in.
There are no objections from Joseph or Mary. Their faith remained firm. They believed Jesus was the Son of God though no miracle would be used to protect Him from the rage of Herod. An ordinary means of protection was used by Joseph and Mary. They fled from the place of danger to a place where Jesus would be safe.
God foresees His people’s distresses, and provides an escape beforehand. The continuance of God’s care and guidance is revealed in the command to Joseph to remain in Egypt until he is told it is safe to return to Judah. Joseph will be told what to do when it is the right time. When we are in difficult situations we should remember the difficult situation Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were in and God brought them safely through the situation. He can do the same for us if we trust Him.
The journey to Egypt would be inconvenient and perilous both to the young Child and to His mother; they were poorly prepared for it, and were likely to meet with a cold reception in Egypt but Joseph was obedient to the heavenly vision. He made no objection. As soon as he received his orders, he immediately arose and went away by night. The same night that he received the command to go to Egypt. He went out as Abraham did, with an implicit dependence upon God. In Egypt Joseph and Mary were far removed from the temple and the service of it and in the midst of idolaters; but God sent them there. In this life there are times when a forced absence from God’s ordinances, and a forced presence with wicked people, may be the lot of God’s people but it is not a sin. It is the grief God’s people must sometime endure.
Herod waited for the return of the magi and the news he needed to crush this rival but he is told that they are gone off another way, which increases his jealousy, and makes him suspect they are in on the plan to take his throne from him. This suspicion made him more desperate and outrageous. If he could not crush his rival by the execution of the suspected rival he would destroy all those who might be his rival. It was strange that Herod could find any so inhuman as to be employed in such a bloody and barbarous piece of work; but the wicked never lack the wicked hands to do their work. Little children have always been under the special protection, not only of human laws, but of human nature; yet these are sacrificed to the rage of this tyrant. Herod was, throughout his reign, a bloody man. To the blood thirsty, blood is like alcohol to the alcohol, the more they drink the thirstier they become. Herod wanted to make sure he rid himself of a rival. He didn’t care how many children would be killed. Hate, an unbridled wrath, armed with an unlawful power is often the source of the most absurd and unreasonable instances of cruelty.