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The Return to Nazareth October 17, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 2:19-23.

Summary: In this passage, an angel of the Lord commands Joseph to return to Israel with his family – as Herod has died. Joseph obeys this command; later, he discovers that Archelaus has succeeded Herod as king of the Jews. Although he is afraid of Archelaus, God works through his fears – guiding him and his family to Nazareth. In this way He fulfills another prophecy regarding Jesus.

Thoughts: When I first read this passage, I thought that Joseph’s fear of Archelaus constituted an act of disobedience. Then I perused the passage; my current hypothesis is that the angel merely told Joseph to return to Israel. In light of this general instruction, God gave Joseph sufficient latitude to express his natural fear of Archelaus. God then used that opportunity to fulfill a prophecy that Jesus would be labeled as a Nazarene. On a related note, since this prophecy does not appear in the Old Testament, I wonder if one can find an extra-biblical reference for it.

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The Escape to Egypt October 13, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 2:13-18.

Summary: In this passage, an angel of the Lord commands Joseph to flee to Egypt with his family – as Herod is planning to kill Jesus. Joseph obeys this command – thereby fulfilling a prophecy in Hosea 11:1.

The Magi fail to return to Jerusalem after worshiping Jesus in Bethlehem; when Herod realizes that they have disobeyed him in that regard, he is filled with rage. He then orders an infanticide in Bethlehem and its environs – thereby fulfilling a prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Herod sought to kill Jesus – as he viewed Jesus as a threat to his reign. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Do we think that Christ’s cause depends on the power and patronage of princes? We are mistaken. They have seldom done much to advance true religion; they have far more frequently been the enemies of the truth…There are many people like Herod. Those who are like Josiah and Edward VI of England are few.

Ryle’s thoughts spurred me to learn more about Edward VI of England. Perhaps Ryle and his contemporaries extolled Edward’s virtues because he:

  • was a passionate Protestant
  • died tragically.

In any event, Ryle makes an accurate assessment of the divide between politics and true religion. As modern-day believers, we should not trust in our political leaders to advance the kingdom of God. While we should still pray for them – as that is an act of obedience on our part – we must ask God how we, given our relatively limited sphere of influence, can advance His kingdom.

The Birth of Jesus Christ October 8, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 1:18-25.

Summary: In this passage, Joseph discovers that his fiancee, Mary, is pregnant. He resolves to divorce her – yet an angel informs him that Mary has actually been impregnated by the Holy Spirit; moreover, his unborn child is the Messiah. The angel commands him to give his son the name Jesus.

In response, Joseph marries his fiancee; later, she gives birth to a son named Jesus. This sequence of events fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14.

Thoughts: In verse 19, we see that Joseph planned to divorce Mary as he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace.” That being said, I am curious as to how his relatives and neighbors responded to Mary’s pregnancy. Did Joseph and Mary attempt to conceal her pregnancy? Did anyone accuse Mary of having illicit relations during her betrothal? Did anyone criticize Joseph for failing to divorce Mary and call him a cuckold? Was Jesus taunted by his peers as he grew up in Nazareth? I certainly anticipate meeting Mary and Joseph in the next life and probing them on these points.