Wise men saw a unique star in the sky, one they knew indicated that a new king had been born. But when the current leader, Herod, found out about a perceived threat to his power, he set out to eliminate him. To keep Jesus out of harm’s way, Joseph received an advance warning of Herod’s plot. This is from Matthew chapter 2:
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “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 to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:15)
This isn’t the first time the Bible records this type of refugee movement. In fact, the Old Testament has several famous examples of God leading his people in and out of Egypt:
And in perhaps one of the most famous stories of the Old Testament, God commands Moses to lead the Israelite people out of Egyptian slavery and go settle in a new land:
The Lord said… “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)
That’s why centuries later (but still before Jesus was born) an Old Testament prophet would remind the Israelites of God’s faithful love for them:
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1)
That passage from Hosea would also echo several hundred years later, as it sounded very similar to the situation surrounding Jesus and his family, where Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt to find safety and then eventually returned home.
So what’s with all of this moving in and out of Egypt? And what does that have to do with Christmas? This idea of “going out” and “coming back” is a major biblical theme. Egypt was sometimes the place to be, but sometimes it was the place people needed to leave. In fact, an entire book of the Bible, Exodus, is dedicated to describing a massive exodus movement out of Egypt.
During this season, the holidays might be unsettling for you. Maybe you have to physically go from one place to another, and then another. Or emotionally, you may be in a space of comfort and familiarity for the time being, but then have to shift to a space that is uncomfortable and disorienting.
Wherever you may be or whatever you may be experiencing, know that even Jesus, in his earliest years, moved from one location to another with a roller coaster of circumstances. The ups and downs of life are not an indicator that God is not with us. In fact, they provide an even clearer opportunity to remember that God is with us through it all.
Heavenly Father, no matter what we face, no matter the obstacles we encounter in life, help us to remember that you are always with us. Amen.
Wise men saw a unique star in the sky, one they knew indicated that a new king had been born. But when the current leader, Herod, found out about a perceived threat to his power, he set out to eliminate him.