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A Significant Event

Christmas 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:25
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A Significant Event

Matthew 2:13–15 ESV
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 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.”
This Christmas we have highlighted the birth of Jesus by looking at his family’s trip to Egypt right after he was born.

Egypt is a significant place.

Many people used Egypt as an escape destination when they were in some kind of trouble. That certainly was the case with Jesus.

Egypt is tied to significant people.

Joseph, Moses and Jesus are the three big names that come to mind.
Jesus is the center of our study.
Joseph was the son of Jacob who, through the providence of God, became the head of the famine relief agency in Egypt. Because of his position, he was able to move his family from Israel to Egypt during a time of great famine.
Moses arrives four hundred years later and is responsible for leading the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Egypt is tied to a significant event.

With Moses, we find a third element that makes a place significant. Places are significant because of certain events that happen in that place.
I was born in Barre, Vermont. I was married in Hingham, MA. I pastored a church in Unity and Palermo.
My mother died at the Hanover Hospital in Hanover, NH. My father died at his apartment in Milford, NH.
What makes a place significant is the event or events that took place there.
We commemorate special events. I have never been to Gettysburg, but that is the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War. Kitty Hawk is the place where the Wright brothers first flew an airplane. We find little crosses lining some of our highways that point to the spot that someone’s son, daughter, husband or wife died in an automobile crash.
Years ago I took a ride with Walter Banton. As we traveled down some country roads he would point out certain places and then give a story about what event made that place significant.
If one were to ask a first century Jewish person, “What makes Egypt significant…” most of them would no doubt mention a very significant event: the Exodus.

Exodus

The Exodus was the name given to the second book of the Bible. It highlights the birth, childhood, maturing of Moses and his confrontations with Pharaoh over the release of the Israeli’s from Egyptian control. God intervened and on one fateful night, Pharaoh agreed to let Israel leave. This departure was called the Exodus. This was a movement from slavery to freedom in the Promised Land. The Exodus was celebrated yearly in the Passover and was deeply embedded in the national mind of Israel.
In Jesus’ day, the nation of Israel was looking for a second Moses, a Messiah, who would break Rome’s control over Israel and allow them to be self-governing and free to follow God.
Exodus is literally “the path out…” As such, it refers to someone leaving a place. We use the word “Exit.” They used the word “Ex” which is to leave and “odos” which is a road or path.
The exodus or departure of Israel from Egypt was significant for two purposes.
First, the exodus was significant because they were leaving slavery.
Second, the exodus was significant because they were headed to the land of promise.
What event is most tied to Egypt? The Exodus made Egypt significant.
The Old Testament prophet, Hosea, gives us a deeper insight into the significance of this Exodus event.
Hosea 11:1 ESV
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
After Israel left Egypt and settled in the Promised Land, they forgot God and turned away from the God who delivered them and were worshipping other gods. God does not believe in pluralism. He says that we shall have no other gods before him.
Israel was in trouble. They were especially in trouble because they turned their backs on a God who loved them.
God loved them before they were a nation. He loved Israel before they crossed the Jordon River. He loved them before he gave the Ten Commandments. He loved them before they crossed the Nile. He loved Israel when they were slaves in Egypt.
When they were still in Egypt, he called them his “son…” his children. His love is expressed in strongest terms. Most parents have a stronger love for their children than for each other. People have gone through divorce “for the sake of the children.” If someone came into a home and said to a wife, “Who do you want me to kill, your husband or your child?” most women would choose to have the child live. That would be a horrible choice, but our gut reaction is to love our children deeply.
God had that same gut level love for Israel when they were in Egypt. His great love is the reason he called them out of Egypt. There were slaves all over the world. But God had a special relationship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He entered into a covenant, an agreement with them. Even when they were in Egypt, his love never failed.
When we look at the significance of the Exodus from Egypt, God’s loving hand is behind every element. He put Pharaoh in a rough spot. He parted the Red Sea. He provided manna, quail and water during their forty years in the wilderness. He split the Jordon River. He helped give victory over their enemies. God was good to Israel.
Because Israel rejected God’s love, Hosea is telling Israel that bad days are ahead. If one reads Hosea, one will see that in spite of the prophecies of judgment, God will ultimately redeem his people.
The similarities between Moses and Jesus are striking.
Both were born to poor parents. Both were saved from an early death that claimed the lives of their peers. Both had royal connections. Both were in Egypt. Both came out of Egypt. Both moved when the people who wanted to kill them died. Moses returned to Egypt. Jesus leaves Egypt.
This last part is highlighted by verse 15.
Matthew 2:15 ESV
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.”
The prophet that Matthew quotes is Hosea.
Matthew is aware of certain things.
First, he is aware that Jesus is God’s son. Israel was God’s son in a metaphorical sense. Jesus is God’s son in a physical sense.
God didn’t call Jesus his prophet, nor did he call him his servant. God called Jesus his son. God loves Jesus as a father loves a son. If we mess with Jesus, we mess with God.
The love that God has for Jesus is mentioned more than once.
At Jesus’ baptism, God said,
Matthew 17:5 ESV
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
John 3:35 ESV
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
John 5:20 ESV
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
The love that God has for Jesus is one of the major reasons for we have for calling people to trust Jesus. This close bond works in two ways.
John 5:23 ESV
that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
As God loved Israel in its infancy, so God loved Jesus from his birth. As he brought Israel out of Egypt, so Jesus was brought out of Egypt.

Jesus was brought out of Egypt to bring us out of Egypt.

I am using Egypt as a picture of a place of trouble, a place of slavery, a place where bad things happen.
Most of the bad things that happen in life happen because of sin.
Relationships are bad because of sin. We lie, cheat, steal, gossip, backbite, throw temper tantrums, argue, belittle, and use nasty words that are meant to hurt other people.
Sometimes its not us, it’s the other person who is inflicting this kind of emotional pain in our lives.
The root problem is sin.
When we try to change, we find it difficult if not impossible. We say things and we wish we could take it back before it hits the other person’s ear. We find ourselves making the same bad decisions we made last year. We want to overcome whatever problems we have, but find that we don’t have it in us.
Our problem is sin. This sin leads to slavery. We are slaves to sin.
Before Jesus was born, the angel said to Joseph when talking about Mary,
Matthew 1:21 ESV
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Though Jesus was safe in Egypt, he came to this earth to die on a tree outside of Jerusalem. He could not do that from Egypt. So God called the son that he loved out of Egypt.
We all have significant events in our lives. We celebrate birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Many are connected with various alumni associations as a reflection of the significance that school played in their lives. Some remember death dates, divorce dates, and other such times. Some even remember the day of an accident or the time spent in a hospital.
The most significant event in my life was when I was delivered from Egypt. By that I mean that the most significant event in my life was the day I trusted Jesus Christ as my savior. That day was more significant than any of the other days in my life.
The reason that I say that was the day that I was delivered from Egypt is that, just as Egypt held Israel in captivity, so we all are captive to sin. Sin brings death into our lives.
The day I trusted Christ I was delivered from sin because Jesus took it from me.
When the angel came to Mary and Joseph with the birth announcement, the angel told Joseph
Matthew 1:21 (ESV) —21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
When we trust Jesus, we become one of his people.
John 1:12–13 ESV
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
I was delivered from death because my faith in Jesus connected me with his resurrection.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The day I trusted Jesus, I had eternal life.
Because I trusted Jesus, it affected every other area of my life. It affected what I did for work, the person I would marry, how I would spend my money, how I would treat other people, and what my goals in life would be.
What is true of me is true of every Christian. When we trust Jesus, we trust Jesus and our lives change.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our savior.
Luke 2:8–11 ESV
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
You may feel you are in a foreign land. Life is not going well for you. You want to be in a better place, a promised land, but you are living in Egypt.
Jesus offers you a way out. Trust him; follow him, live for him. The changes that will come in the present will amaze you for the way of the Lord is right. Jesus came, not to condemn us, but to save us. Trust him…
You will also have that assurance of eternal life. Eternal life is a gift; it could be your Christmas gift. The babe in the manger grew to be the savior of the world. People facing death and dying surround us. This is the end of all people. Are we ready to meet our maker? With Jesus at our side, we can face God with confidence.
I didn’t get into this. God loves anyone who loves and trust his son. Before we get to the Promised Land, we may still have to wander in the wilderness. No one will every be trouble free. I don’t want to give a bad impression. We have heard testimonies from people whose live have taken on a different dimension what they decided to trust Jesus.
If you have never trusted Christ, then he calls you to trust him. If you say you trust Christ, I challenge you to trust Christ. Even Christians can find new life when they are not content with mediocrity and decide to follow Jesus.
I am convinced that many Christians are not experiencing the depth of the Christian life because they are selective in their desire to follow Jesus.
We follow Jesus as long as Jesus doesn’t cross our ideas and plans. We follow Jesus as long as we don’t have to make certain sacrifices. As a result, we miss the joy, the grace, and the full impact of what Jesus can do for us, in us, and through us.
The celebration of the birth of Jesus is a great time to commit or recommit to Jesus. That would make this Christmas truly a Merry Christmas!
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