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STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
—INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS—
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
III. QUAR., LESSON IV., JULY 22, MATT. 2:13-23
Golden Text—”The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in.”—Psa. 121:8
There are five points in this lesson worthy of special notice; viz., (1) The foresight and providence of God. His fore-knowledge is past our comprehension: the finite cannot fathom the depths of the infinite mind. But it is our privilege to know the comforting fact that Jehovah’s knowledge and wisdom are superior to all the exigencies of his universal empire; and that the wrath of man and of all the combined powers of darkness cannot in the slightest degree frustrate the divine plan. The same power that was able to transform the spiritual Son of God to the human nature was able also to protect him against all opposers, from helpless infancy up to the appointed time of his sacrifice for the world’s redemption.
(2) We note again the ministry of angels—”Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1:14.) Yes; and gladly are they ready for any service.—1 Pet. 1:12.
(3) The faith and prompt obedience of Joseph and Mary to the warning and counsel of the angel of the Lord is notable. They did not hesitate nor question, but immediately acted upon the command of the Lord; and his blessing and protection went with them, both in departing for Egypt and in returning to Palestine. In seeking to avoid the power of the new king Archelaus (Herod’s son and successor, who even surpassed his father in oppression, cruelty, egotism and sensuality) and going to Nazareth instead of to Bethlehem which was near to Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary did not disregard the Lord’s directions which were to go into the land of Israel—in any part of which they might settle.
(4) In the circumstances here recorded we see the fulfilment of several prophecies—viz., (a) “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” This, like many other prophecies, was one of double significance, applying originally to the exodus of Israel from the bondage of Egypt (Hos. 11:1; Exod. 4:22,23), and subsequently to the return of the infant Son of God from Egypt after Herod was dead. (Matt. 2:15.) And on a still larger scale Egypt represents the world, and Christ and the entire Church of God are the called-out promised seed. (b) The circumstances which led to the settlement in Nazareth thereby led to the fulfilment of the prophecy of Matt. 2:23, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (c) The slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem was also prophetically mentioned. See Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:17,18. It should be remembered, however, that in these cases the events were not made to fit the prophecies; but the prophecies were made to foretell the events, and become indications of the foreknowledge of God.
(5) It is also worthy of notice that in protecting the infant Redeemer God’s course did not interfere with the existing order of things. Although all power was in his hand, he did not strike Herod dead, nor overturn nor interfere with his authority and power. The time for such radical measures had not yet come. The lease of power had been granted to the kingdoms of this world
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until the “Times of the Gentiles” should be fulfilled; i.e., until A.D. 1915. Consequently, they must (according to his plan) be permitted to take their own course for good or for evil, except in so far as their actions would interfere with the divine plan. And in such cases God always either overrules or prevents them.
In the case here mentioned God interfered only so far as to protect his Son in whom the plan of salvation centered. But when the appointed time came for the sacrifice of that Son for the redemption of the world, then the rulers of darkness of this world had their way. They were then permitted to crucify the Son of God, because for this purpose came he into the world—to give his life a ransom for many; and because his hour was come.—Matt. 20:28; John 2:4; 7:6; Luke 22:53.
The weeping and lamentation for the slaughtered infants who did not escape the wrath of the king, was but another note of the long wail of distress of the groaning creation, of which the Lord has not been unmindful, but which his far-sighted wisdom permits for wise and benevolent ends, until “the times of restitution of all things.”
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The promise of the Golden Text has special reference to the spiritual life of the Lord’s consecrated people—spiritual Israel. As new creatures they are always safe in God’s keeping, while they abide in Christ.
— July 15, 1894 —