7. Back to the Land of Israel

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 7 (Matthew 2:19-23)

Today’s journey takes us from Egypt northeast past Judea into Galilee, a distance of about 300 miles (500 kilometers).

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.  “Get up!” the angel said.  “Take the child and his mother and go back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are themselves dead.”

So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with the child and his mother.  But when he learned that Archelaus was the new king of Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.  After being warned in a dream, he left Egypt for the region of Galilee, and the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth.  This fulfilled what the prophets had said:  “He will be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19-23)

Egypt had a thriving Jewish community in Jesus’ day.  It would not have been difficult for Joseph and his family to find work and live there.  But like Moses many centuries before, Jesus is not destined to settle comfortably in Egypt.  Herod dies and an angel appears to Joseph in Egypt telling him to return to Israel.  He was also warned about Archelaus, one of Herod’s sons and the apparent heir of the throne.  Archelaus had difficulty establishing his rule, and he put down rebellious people right after Herod’s funeral.

Joseph takes the family and he settles them north in Galilee, in Nazareth, again in a prophetic fulfillment.  The move to Nazareth is a credit to Joseph, both his sensitivity to God’s leading and his obedience to God’s will.

“Out of Egypt” I have called my son: Jesus re-lives the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt.  It reminds us what God has done in the past but it also makes God’s deliverance present again.  Kings like Herod and his sons were not going to deliver Israel.  God long ago raised up a deliverer for his people (Moses, and many judges that followed), so even now Jesus will be a deliverer for his people.  This journey with Jesus has already involved a narrow escape, and there will be more difficulties up ahead.

Prayer:  God, You keep you word and fulfill your prophesies.  You care about Your people and will deliver them.  You protected Jesus, You delivered Your people Israel from Egypt and You will answer our calls for help even today.  The mighty kings die, the powerful will fall (2:20).  You endure and Your will will be done.  I trust You and proclaim it today.

Travel tip:  Back in the land of Israel and finishing your first week on this journey.  What are you observing, noticing?  I think all good travel experiences change us in some way.  How is this one changing you?