Wednesday, October 27, 2010

He Has Called His Son

Matthew 2:15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

15 καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς Ἡρῴδου· ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου.

Matthew is making a very clear reference to Hosea 11:1 which reads: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  If you look at Hosea you see that he is clearly referring to the Exodus.  The nation of Israel was still relatively young, but God graciously called Israel out of Egypt and we have the record of that in Exodus.  You don't have to read the Old or New Testaments very carefully to find that the Exodus is a major theme used to explain what it means to be a Christian.  We are previously in bondage to sin and through Christ we are set free.

Even though this is a repeated theme, Matthew's use of this verse is a bit puzzling.  After all, Hosea was referring to the nation of Israel.  Matthew is clearly referring to the child Jesus.  Although some disagree, I find it highly unlikely that Hosea was thinking of Jesus when he wrote Hosea 11:1.  So what was Matthew doing?  Was he using a Jewish hermeneutic where you can take any language you want from the OT as long as it suits what you want to say?  I don't think so.

I think that Matthew was using typology here.  You also could think of it as sensus plenior, if you mean that Matthew was adding meaning that the original author could not have intended.  I come to this conclusion based on the research I'm doing for a thesis on this topic.  When I have it done I will certainly post it.

But what difference does this make?  I think that Matthew is identifying Jesus with Israel.  Just as Jesus is the better Adam, the better Moses, the better Aaron, and the better David, He is also the better Israel.  He is the consummation of the Old Testament.  Certainly the Old Testament spoke to the nation of people known as Israel.  However, in a greater sense it was leading them to Messiah.  Here Matthew is telling his Jewish audience that in this boy they had the fulfillment of their search.

Every Bible reader needs to decide what is at the center of his Bible.  Is it Israel?  Or is it Jesus?  Israel is certainly important, but I would maintain that Israel points us to Jesus, not the other way around.  I believe that at Christocentric hermeneutic is the way to go.  This verse is a large part of why I come to that conclusion.  Seeing Christ throughout the Old Testament without resorting to ridiculous allegorizing magnifies my view of God and gives me great hope.

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