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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Daily Devotion for July 16, 2013

<i>The Flight into Egypt</i> by Jean François Millet ca. 1864
The Flight into Egypt by Jean François Millet ca. 1864.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Prayer for the Morning

May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,


For Those Who Suffer

God of time and of eternity, in your hands you hold the souls of the righteous, and in your heart there is room for all people; shine forth upon all who are tried in the furnace of suffering and illness, and especially on those for whom I pray today; in your grace and mercy may we know that you watch over us; bring us at the last to abide with you in love; I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.



God of mercy, swift to help: as my lips pour forth your praise, fill my heart with the peace you give to those who wait for your salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

<i>The Prophet Hosea</i> by Duccio di Buoninsegna, ca. 1311
The Prophet Hosea by Duccio di Buoninsegna, ca. 1311. The scroll he holds is the prophecy discussed today: “Ex Egipto vocavi filium meum.”


“You don’t have a marriage problem, you have a sin problem.”

~ Henry Brandt

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 2:7-8, 13-15 (J.B. Phillips NT)

The Flight to Egypt: Hosea’s Prophecy

Then Herod invited the wise men to meet him privately and found out from them the exact time when the star appeared. Then he sent them off to Bethlehem saying, “When you get there, search for this little child with the utmost care. And when you have found him come back and tell me — so that I may go and worship him too.”

          *          *          *

But after they had gone, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up now, take the little child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you. For Herod means to seek out the child and kill him.”

So Joseph got up, and taking the child and his mother with him in the middle of the night, set off for Egypt, where he remained until Herod’s death. This again is a fulfillment of the Lord’s word spoken through the prophet — ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’.

Notes on the Scripture

We said in the Introduction that two of the great themes of Matthew were “Christ as King” and “Christ as the fulfillment of the prophets.” We saw the first of these abundantly in Matthew 1 and the first verses of Matthew 2. In the later verses of Matthew 2, we see the second fleshed out.

We are fortunate to have just read Exodus, for the quote from Hosea — “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1) — resonates with the full meaning of both Old and New Testaments.

Hosea's words were not, on their face, meant as a prophecy of the Messiah. He did not necessarily mean to predict that the Messiah would flee to Egypt and then return to Israel. Matthew and his Jewish readers knew this full well. But they also understood Hosea thoroughly: not only Hosea the Bible book, but also Hosea the man; and we must understand them as well, if we are to grasp the implications of the verse. (Don't worry: we are not going to divert for a month-long study of a minor prophet!)

During the descent into widespread idolatry that characterized the reigns of the post-David kings, God commanded Hosea to marry an unrighteous woman. She lapsed into notorious adultery after their marriage. Hosea denounced her and sent her away; but he repented his action and, rather stoning her to death, forgave her.

If this sounds familiar, it is because Hosea's life and writings were, like the life of Moses, a parallel to the life of Christ, a preliminary chapter that formed a pattern which the Messiah would realize fully. Think of a dressmakers' pattern, first made in flimsy paper, then perhaps sewn in muslin, as nonverbal “prophesies” of the final dress.

So the quote from Hosea turns our attention not to the words spoken by the prophets, but to the events they lived through. In Exodus, after God has made his promise to Abraham, the Hebrews are taken into slavery and then delivered by Moses and the first covenant into Canaan; but they violate the law — in effect, committing adultery by worshipping other Gods. In Hosea, Hosea himself is a metaphor for God as the cuckold husband of Israel; the book draws a distinct parallel between Hosea's marriage and the relationship of God and the Hebrews. Hosea's forgiveness of his wife is a rudimentary pattern anticipating God's ultimate act of forgiveness.

Thus, Hosea prophesies the doctrine of righteousness by grace that will come to fruition in the life of Christ. That Christ actually goes to Egypt and returns is either a happy accident or else a nice integration of symbolic detail, tying the Old and New Testaments together. But much more important is Hosea's metaphor of God as the husband of adulterous Israel; for the metaphor of Christ as the bridegroom will inform the entire Gospel.

The theme of the forgiving bridegroom recurs in the Gospel of John. Christ interrupts Pharisees about to stone an adulteress, with the famous line, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” The story is a vivid demonstration of the new covenant, in itself, but remembering the life of Hosea and realizing that Christ Himself is also a “wronged husband” adds another dimension. (John 8:1-10)

endless knot

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