The cover of darkness affords protection to those fleeing from harm. Typically, fugitives carry guilt from unsavory deeds they have committed, and often their motive is to escape the law. In a Heavenly twist, our newly-born LORD Jesus Christ and his family became “criminals”, frantically staying just one step ahead of the unconscionable cruelty ordered by King Herod.
Initially, LORD Jesus had been protected by the circumstances and location of His birth. A lowly stable in the obscure town of Bethlehem provided a temporary safe haven for a vulnerable newborn. Shortly thereafter, however, the Magi revealed to Herod the location of our Savior (Matthew 2:8). Herod ordered them to go to Bethlehem and verify the existence of the Christ child.
Although Jesus was but an infant, Herod paid no respect to our LORD and sought to kill Him. However, following the Magi’s departure from Bethlehem, an angel of the LORD appeared to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the child and His mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child and kill Him.” (Matthew 2:13). Ever obedient, Joseph woke up his family and proceeded as requested.
As if the journey to Bethlehem had not taxed the pregnant Mary sufficiently, now she and the vulnerable Christ-child were forced to endure a long, inconvenient, and perilous journey to a foreign land. They had journeyed to Bethlehem upon a lowly donkey; the escape to Egypt would provide no better means. The family had traveled to Bethlehem with minimal provisions to sustain themselves and the looming burden of a second unexpected journey appeared daunting. Adding insult to injury, the victory of arrival brought little prospect of joy or glad tidings, for Israelites were not welcomed graciously in Egypt.
A Heavenly vision must be obeyed, however. As soon as he received his orders, Joseph arose and immediately fled Bethlehem with his family on a night flight of drudgery. As did his father Abraham, Joseph left his home town with implicit dependence upon God, not knowing where he was headed (Hebrews 11:8). Neither Joseph nor Mary had kin in Egypt, so they had initially no city of destination or expectation of welcome.
Having virtually no Earthly possessions to attend, the family could pick up and go at a moment’s notice. The rich have an abundance, which proves to be a hindrance for rapid flight when they are called to part with it. Thus, Jesus’ family’s poverty proved to be a blessing for mobilizing and escaping in advance of the agents Herod commissioned to disrupt their lives more disastrously.
This was not the first Joseph to be driven from Canaan to Egypt for a shelter from the anger of his brethren (Genesis 37:12-38). One might suppose Egypt would welcome the second Joseph by virtue of the legend and exploits of the first; however, Scripture warns that when the LORD comes into Egypt, the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence, will tremble before Him, and the hearts of the Egyptian people will melt within them (Isaiah 19:1).
Despite the inhospitable welcome awaiting, the family pressed on. There they stayed until the death of Herod. Scholars differ in their thinking regarding the length of the stay; some think only about three months, others think seven years. Whatever the duration, their night flight had taken them far from the Temple and its comforts. They lived among idolaters and pagans. Although they were at a great distance from the Temple, they carried with them the LORD of the Temple in their hearts and in the baby Jesus they held in their arms.
It is normal to obey God, even if obedience requires difficult circumstances, short notices, and an uncertain future. The prospect of hardship does not excuse us from obeying God’s call. What comfort in your life is God calling you to flee in order that you come closer to Him?
“I’m Normal.™ I AM.”
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In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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