Summary: We say we believe that God is in control. But do we really believe it?
“Faithful Living: In the Year of Our Lord”
A few years ago Twila Paris recorded a sing entitled “God is in Control.” It was quite a testimony and many of us sang along with gusto and conviction! It stated musically what we believe theologically - that “No matter what, God is in control!” But do you believe that? In light of a King who killed innocent babies? In light of the Holocaust? In light of September 11, 2001? In light of a movie theatre in Colorado? In light of Newtown? In light of divorces and rapes and abuses and abortions? In light of kids killing kids? Do you really believe that God is in control?
Matthew the apostle did. This passage in his Gospel is neatly packaged with three Old Testament prophecies which teach us a valuable lesson: God has been at work for centuries, since before time as we know it began, to provide eternal salvation. In fact, says Matthew, THROUGH PROVIDENTIAL ACTS, GOD CONTROLS THE FLOW OF LIFE. In other words, God is sovereign. Let’s look more closely at Matthew to see just how God works.
First of all we discover that God works as HE ADVANCES SOCIETY. Everything about Jesus’ birth and early life had been going well – and around the age of two the Wise Men from the east came to visit and honor Jesus. But no sooner had they left than Joseph was told to run – to go live elsewhere. Jesus’ life was in danger. BUT GOD HAS A PLAN IN MIND – He had, in fact, already worked it out! God is in control – not Herod. Verses 13-15: “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."
"Out of Egypt I called my son." These words were quoted from the prophecy of Hosea. Hosea’s writings were not primarily about the Messiah but about God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt during the Exodus. Matthew is telling us that Jesus is the embodiment of Israel. Even as Hosea proclaimed regarding God and Israel, so Matthew proclaimed regarding Jesus: God is faithful to His people. For as God was Israel’s refuge from Egypt so now JESUS IS OUR REFUGE! Whatever your fear, whatever it is that defeats you, whatever it is that is holding you back from living fully and freely and abundantly with God, whatever it is that is working against and threatening you – Come to Jesus. He is our refuge and strength.
So God’s people – you and I as individuals and the church – will always survive! God’s society will remain – not even the gates of hell will prevail against her. GOD IS IN CONTROL! The world lives under the providence of God. And what is the providence of God? According to the Heidelberg Catechism – Question and Answer # 27: “The almighty and ever-present power of God whereby he still upholds, as it were by his own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.” Whatever happens, God is in control.
Consider Herod – He stands for the many individuals and nations which are threatened by Jesus and which take a stand against Him. Psalm 2 had posited the truth many centuries before – Kings and nations conspire against the Almighty, but (2:4) God laughed and scoffed at them (which is one of only 2 places where Bible says God laughed and the other (Ps. 37:13) says He laughs for the same reason!) God is in control! Osama Bin Laden, Sadam Hussein, Adolf Hitler…all fall! No Herod, no slaughter, no invasion, no weapon, can ever prevent it! “Despots may plan and armies may march, and the congresses of the nations may seem to think they are adjusting all the affairs of the world, but the mighty men of the earth are only the dust of the chariot wheels of God’s providence.” (T. Dewitt Talmadge). God is in control. He advances society.
So God moved Jesus to Egypt to preserve His life and the life of God’s people. But all that only served to enrage Herod. Verse 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.” Through this evil deed, however, we discover that God controls the flow of life as HE ASSURES SAFETY. Herod’s deed simply illustrates what one opposed to, or threatened by, Christ will do to get rid of Christ. But they will not succeed, for God is in control and protects His own!