How does Jesus fulfill the prophecy that says, 'Out of Egypt I called my son' (Matthew 2:15)?Matthew 2:15, in talking about Joseph taking Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod, says, "This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt I called my son.'" This verse has metaphorical connections to prophecies and literal connections to real historical events.
In Matthew 2, King Herod is visited by the wise men who came to find the Christ child. He hears from the wise men that the king of the Jews has been born. Herod feels his rule is threatened. In obedience to a warning from God, the wise men do not return to Herod to tell him the location of the child, as he had asked them to do. So Herod orders that all male children aged two and under in the Bethlehem region be killed. This would have put Jesus at risk, but God sent an angel messenger to Joseph, Jesus' earthly father, and warned him that they must go to Egypt: "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'" (Matthew 2:13–15).
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, we see the story of the Israelites being called by God out of slavery in Egypt and into freedom, eventually leading to the Promised Land. Interestingly, one of the pharaohs had also commanded that the Israelite male infants be killed (Exodus 1:15–22). The Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians for 400 years, and the conditions grew increasingly harsh. But God sent Moses to deliver the people, speaking through him and bringing judgment on the Egyptians and their gods through a series of plagues (Exodus 7:1–5). The Israelites and the Egyptians would know that God alone is Lord. When God called Moses to this task and told him what would happen, He said, in part, "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, "Let my son go that he may serve me." If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son" (Exodus 4:22–23). From this point on, throughout the generations, the Israelite people recognized God as their Father (Isaiah 63:16; 64:8).
The Israelite exodus from Egypt is referred to later in the prophetic book of Hosea, which includes the phrase "Out of Egypt I called my son" for the first time (Hosea 11:1). Hosea is referring to the Israelite exodus, but we see the prophetic side of this clearly when it is listed as being fulfilled in Matthew 2:15 when Jesus, the Son of God, is called out of His exile in Egypt.
The exodus from Egypt served as a biblical type or shadow. Though prophecy is often a prediction of the future, there is also a type of biblical prophecy in which an event prefigures a similar and usually more significant future event. The exodus from Egypt happened historically and also pointed forward to the person and work of Jesus. One of the connections we see between the exodus and Jesus is the calling out of God's Son from Egypt. In one case God's son was Israel, in the other it was the Son of God.
God established Himself as Father of the Israelites throughout the generations. He called them out of slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land and life with Him as their God and king. Then, hundreds of years later, Jesus—God incarnate and the Son of God—was also called out of Egypt. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, paved the way for freedom for all people, once and for all. We can all be set free from sin and death (Romans 6:6–11; 8:1–4), and we can all become children of God (John 1:12). This happens by God's grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:1–10). Those who put their trust in Him are freed from the eternal penalty of sin and slavery to it; they are ushered into new life with Christ (1 Corinthians 5:17–21; Philippians 2:12–13).
As believers in Jesus Christ as Lord, God is our Father. In our salvation, we were called out of slavery to sin (our Egypt equivalent) and into the glorious light of God's kingdom: "giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:12–14).
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