Advent thoughts: December 20

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1—read Hosea 11:1-9).

According to Matthew 1:15, Hosea was talking about Jesus when he uttered the words, “Out of Egypt I called my Son.” Looking at Hosea’s prophecy, it is not easy to find Jesus. The prophet seems to be talking about the nation Israel, not about Jesus. God speaks of his kindness to his chosen people, describes their sin and the punishment they deserve, but concludes by describing his warm and tender compassion. Though they deserve judgment and punishment, God will not pour out his wrath on his people. He will treat them according to the new covenant of grace and not according to the old covenant.

The new covenant is only possible because of Jesus, but Matthew’s point is more profound than that simple fact. In taking God’s words about Israel and applying them to Jesus, Matthew is showing Jesus to be the new Israel. In the days of Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, the descendants of Abraham moved to Egypt to escape famine in the Promised Land. At first, they were honored guests, but they later became slaves. God raised up Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He brought them first to Mount Sinai, where God made a covenant with the nation. Then they started toward the Promised Land. When they heard about the strength of the people living in Canaan, the Israelites lost their nerve. They doubted God’s promises to give them the victory. Therefore, the Israelites who had left Egypt wandered in the wilderness for forty years until they all had died. The next generation then followed Joshua across the Jordan River and conquered the Canaanites as God had promised.

The journey of the Israelites under Moses and Joshua was delayed because of sin and doubt. God called Israel his son, but Israel was a disobedient son. When the right time arrived, God sent his Son to retrace the steps of Israel. Like Abraham’s son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons, Jesus was born in the Promised Land. But, like Jacob and his family, Jesus and his parents fled to Egypt for a time. When they returned to the Promised Land, they did not doubt God’s power to protect them. Although they relocated to Nazareth rather than Bethlehem, they did not hesitate in the wilderness.

When he was a man, Jesus returned to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. The Israelites led by Moses sinned repeatedly against the Lord in the wilderness, but Jesus did not sin. He said no to every temptation from the devil. He remained faithful to his Father, trusting his promises and obeying his commands. Through his obedience, Jesus was able to establish a new covenant between God and his people. Jesus bore the wrath of the old covenant so God’s people could be spared that wrath. Jesus suffered to become victorious over all evil. Jesus died to defeat death. Jesus rose to share his victory and his new covenant with all people.

We are children of God, adopted into his family through the new covenant. In Baptism we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We are also his Church, the body of Christ. Therefore, in a sense, we traveled into Egypt with Mary and Joseph and Jesus. In a sense, we retraced the steps of the ancient Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. In a sense, we got it right along with Jesus, even though our predecessors on this path got it wrong.

Because of the new covenant, God’s compassion for us grows warm and tender. He will not execute burning anger at us or come in wrath against us, because that anger and wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross. Because Jesus suffered and died and rose, we will not be destroyed. Thanks be to God! J.


8 thoughts on “Advent thoughts: December 20

  1. And thanks to Jesus!

    You know I am not religious, right? But I really appreciate reading your take on biblical matters. It makes so much more sense to me than anything my teachers used to tell me (I was raised a Catholic). Where were you when I was 7? 😉

    Merry Christmas, J.! And may you and your family have a lovely celebration together in honour of Jesus’ birth ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samantha

      I was raised as a Catholic too. Didn’t take since I was never encouraged to read and study the Bible for myself. Finally started doing that in my fifties. Why? To make the long commute to work tolerable, I started listening to recordings of classical literature. When it struck me that the Bible was classical literature and the most important, I listened to it.

      Parts of the Bible are obscure and/or rather dry. The old King James Version is beautifully written, but it also poses a challenge. Fortunately, James Earl Jones was the reader, and that helped hold my attention. So I started thinking about what he was saying. By the time I reached the end I was surprised. I believed.

      Blogs like Salvageable’s are great, but remember what makes them great. It is the book he is helping us to understand.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I cannot imagine even James Earl Jones making the opening chapters of I Chronicles lively. But different portions of the Bible are helpful to different people. Some revel in the poetry while others enjoy the historical accounts, and still others prefer the logical presentations of the apostles. It’s all there for a purpose, and I do read the entire Bible every year, but I confess that some parts speak to me more than others. Not every verse is for every person. J.

        Liked by 2 people

      • @salvageable

        Fired that one too soon. Word is “dissipate”.

        I have in recent years listened to J. Vernon Mcgee “Thru the Bible” series. Good commentary on the entire Bible. Learn quite bit. It is amazing, for example, how the sacrifices and the festivals in Leviticus pointed to Jesus. To learn that sort of thing, however, requires study, more than just reading the Bible. But it does make Leviticus far more interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am currently reading a commentary on Leviticus written by John W. Kleinig and published by Concordia Publishing House. Kleinig shows how all the ceremonies and sacrifices point to Christ, and also how they would have great relevance to any animist society that still believes in sacred power in the blood of a beast. There is much to discover in the central, yet most-neglected, book of the Torah. J.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Samantha, and Merry Christmas to you as well. Where was I when you were 7? I think I was in Chicago then. And there was no WordPress to help us talk to each other. As Citizen Tom suggests, it’s never too late to begin reading the Bible and considering what it says. J.

      Liked by 2 people

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