Five scenes that cover our glimpses into the early life of Jesus. Five statements that some aspect of the Old Testament was fulfilled in this early life of Christ. Five indication that Matthew wants us to know that Jesus is not just the end of the Old Testament story as His recording of the genealogy indicates but more importantly five literary hints that for Matthew Jesus is the Old Testament come to bloom. With his close attention to Jesus fulfilling of the OT Matthew is telling us that Jesus is not only the completion of the story but also that the OT declares the promise which Jesus fulfills.
Ill. — Plant that has not bloomed yet
i.) The assurance to Joseph concerning the child conceived in Mary (1:18-25 corresponds to Isaiah 7:14).
ii.) Jesus birth in Bethlehem (2:1-12 corresponds Micah 5:2)
iii.) Escape to Egypt and return (2:13-15 corresponds to Hosea 11:1 which is a reference to God having brought Israel, his son, out of Egypt at the Exodus).
iv.) The murder by Herod of the boys in Bethlehem (2:16-18 corresponds to Jeremiah 31:15 which is a lament for the Israelites who were going into exile.
v.) The settlement of Jesus family in in Nazareth (2:19-23 corresponds to no one OT text but rather a smattering of OT illusions.)
In the OT, as we have seen, God has declared His purpose to Redeem a people to be a light to the nations whom He intends to Redeem via His people’s witness. In the OT he has put this promise to Redeem a people on display in a plethora of different hints, metaphors, types, historical events and fore shadowings to and through Israel. For those w/ eyes to see the OT is a book that is like a great symphony where a theme has been developed and played over and over again in minor chords but now that theme is rising to its crescendo in the major chords so as to relieve the tension that has developed in the work.
I.) Matthew’s Concrete Intention In His Choice of OT Scriptures As Applied To The Messiah
Note that there is a geographical sense that comes out in Matthew’s Old Testament Scriptures. Matthew’s OT texts explains how it is that the Messiah who was born in Bethlehem ended up in Nazareth, after a stay in Egypt.
If you will remember there had been some debate between Christians and Jews whether or not a prophet could come from Nazareth (John 1:46, 7:41ff). What Matthew’s fulfillment passages do is they show that the Messiah was indeed born in Bethlehem as Scripture called for and that the Messiah ending up in Galilee after a stay in Egypt was what the OT Scripture taught should be expected. So, by doing this the “fulfillment” passages serves the same end as the genealogy passage and that is to portray Jesus as the completion of God’s story and the fulfilling reality of what God promised in the OT.
But we can press this geography motif a bit more. If we look at the geography as a whole that Matthew gives us in chapters 2-4 we see that either by His travels or by His reputation Jesus had an effective ministry which spanned the whole of the ancient boundaries of the Old Davidic Kingdom (note esp. Mt. 4:24-25). Matthew is telling us that the one who was the greater son of David who was the promised Messiah King of the Davidic line has a claim was wide as the ancient kingdom of David itself.
And the focal point of that ministry is the region of Galilee and that it should be expected to be so Matthew vindicates by quoting Is. 9:1-2 in Mt. 4:13-16.
“In the past God humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentile, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
So, by giving this geography lesson Matthew has corroborated the point of his genealogy lesson in Chapter 1. Both the history lesson by way of completion and the geography lesson by way of fulfillment give us “King David’s greater Kingly Son claiming his Kingdom.”
Now just as the genealogy is not only particular but also hints at the universal ramifications with its inclusion of the Gentiles with its listing of the Gentile mothers so there is a geographic counterpart. True Jesus is the Greater son of David but also true this greater son of David is visited by Kingly Gentile ambassadors from the East who pay homage to their greater King but also the Greater son of David, with His court, pays visit to to Egypt in the West. The stories, in their geography, thus embrace both extremes of the OT world — east and west. Even further both regions are included within various OT prophecies concerning the extent of God’s work of salvation.
for example Is. 19,
23(A) In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria,(B) and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.
24In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria,(C) a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt(D) my people, and Assyria(E) the work of my hands, and(F) Israel my inheritance.”
Matthew is telling us here that God’s purpose for Israel, and for the Messiah who would embody Israel, was the blessing of all the nations.
And this takes us back to Jesus as the son of Abraham through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
Matthew, then, who writes the most Jewish of the Gospels wastes no time at all going all global on us. He wastes no time telling us that when the Messiah came He received Eastern visitors bearing Kingly gifts who paid Him homage, and was personally, if only temporarily, a resident in Egypt.
Beyond this the worship that the Magi bring is almost certainly an echo of Psalm 72:10
May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
And this is reminiscent of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. In addition the gifts of Gold and Frankincense recall Is. 60:1-6 where they are brought by kingd, from Arabia, to greet the dawning of God’s new light in Zion.
1Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
2For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
5Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.
Through his use of geography Matthew clearly wants us to see the Messiah as not being a provincial Messiah but rather a Messiah for the nations. Matthew desires us to see that the salvation that God had promised was a Salvation while starting with Israel is not complete until it expands to cover the globe. The theme we find throughout the Scriptures that Israel is God’s people for the sake of the nations is re-articulated here by giving us a Messiah who is the faithful Israel and son of God who accomplishes what unfaithful Israel failed to accomplish as God’s son.
Now the point of application that we must not miss is that the Church is now the Israel of God and the Church is that institution that is saved for the sake of bringing the Gospel to and living out the Gospel before the nations. The Church is now a Kingdom of Priests and as we are now prophets, priests and kings under sovereign God our purpose is to apply what Christ has accomplished in the establishing of His Kingdom.