13 “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.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 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.” (Matthew 2:13–15)
God not only revealed Himself and His will in a dream to the Magi but also revealed Himself by an angel of the Lord to Joseph. Perhaps this was the same angel who had appeared to Joseph to quiet his fears of marrying Mary. We have no way of knowing.
However, we do know that the angel 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.” This eliminates any doubt about Herod’s true intentions regarding Jesus and that worshiping the Lord was not one of them. It seems that Herod’s murderous intent was formed before the Magi had reached Bethlehem.
Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Egypt was a Roman province independent of Herod, and much inhabited by Jews, was an easy and convenient refuge. Ah! Blessed Savior, on what a checkered career hast Thou entered here below! At Thy birth there was no room for Thee in the inn; and now all Judea is too hot for Thee. How soon has the sword begun to pierce through the Virgin’s soul (Luke 2:35)! How early does she taste the reception which this mysterious Child of hers is to meet with in the world! And whither is He sent? To “the house of bondage?” Well, it once was that. But Egypt was a house of refuge before it was a house of bondage, and now it has but returned to its first use”
“And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt” (Matthew 2:14). The obedience of the Magi in going back to their own country another way in order to avoid King Herod is coupled with the obedience of Joseph in leaving Bethlehem, with Mary and Jesus, and traveling to Egypt to avoid Herod. Joseph and his young family remained in Egypt until the death of Herod, which is historically verified at 4 B.C. However, Matthew is quick to point out that this was also a fulfillment of the prophecy found in Hosea 11:1: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “It is probable that the stay in Egypt was very brief—perhaps no more than a few weeks. This quotation is from Hos. 11:1 (see note there, which speaks of God’s leading Israel out of Egypt in the exodus. Matthew suggests that Israel’s sojourn in Egypt was a pictorial prophecy rather than a specific verbal one such as Matt. 2:6; cf. 1:23. These are called “types,” and all are always fulfilled in Christ and identified clearly by the NT writers. Another example of a type is found in John 3:14.”
God is in providential control of the circumstances of life. He is not detached from our situations but rather providentially works through and in them. May we derive great comfort from this knowledge.
Soli deo Gloria!