In our study of Matthew chapter two, we see how it was necessary for God to act on mankind's behalf to provide for our salvation. This "great intervention" was predicted by the Jewish prophets and fulfilled in the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. In this chapter, we will see the fulfillment of four separate prophecies.
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After Yeshua was born in Beit-Lechem in the land of Y'hudah during the time when Herod was king, Magi from the east came to Yerushalayim and asked, "Where is the newborn King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
Matthew jumps right in by explaining that Yeshua was born in Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) which is about five miles south of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). This was predicted by the prophet Micah (see Micah 5:2) and was also the birthplace of King David. The "magi" refers to wise men and Hebrew we find that they were Jewish scholars from Babylon. They had stayed there after the Babylonian exile and were waiting for Messiah to come but we do not know how many travelled to Jerusalem. They had heard the prophecy of Balaam that a star would come out of Ya'akov (Israel) and a ruler would rise (see Numbers 24:17). When they saw the star, they immediately recognized that it was no ordinary star and so they headed to Jerusalem and we see that they were looking for the "King of the Jews" which is a synonym for Messiah in Judaism. That would have been the natural place to find the king of Israel.
When King Herod heard of this he became very agitated, and so did everyone else in Yerushalayim. He called together all the head cohanim and Torah-teachers of the people and asked them, "Where will the Messiah be born?"
Herod the Great was a superstitious man who had bought his position from the Roman authorities. He was not known for his desire to share things and he was certainly not willing to share his power with a "king of the Jews". When the Jewish scholars showed up asking about this other king, it bothered him but it also stirred up the religious leaders that were in Jerusalem. This "great intervention" by God was bound to change everything including their power and authority. The religious leaders were not kingdom minded and were not looking for the Messiah as they were quite happy with their current situation.
"In BeitLechem of Y'hudah," they replied, "because the prophet wrote, `And you, Beit-Lechem in the land of Y'hudah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Y'hudah; for from you will come a Ruler who will shepherd my people Isra'el.'"
The religious leaders answered King Herod with the quote from Micah 5:2. They were able to answer his question and it reminds us that you can have a "head knowledge" of Yeshua without being saved.
Herod summoned the Magi to meet with him privately and asked them exactly when the star had appeared.
There had been quite some period of time between when the Jewish scholars first saw the star and when they arrived in Jerusalem. Herod called some of them in so that he could quietly find out when they had seen the star. He did this quietly because he did not want anyone to know that he was taking this prophecy of a new king seriously but he also wanted to know the age of the child.
Then he sent them to Beit-Lechem with these instructions: "Search carefully for the child; and when you find him, let me know, so that I too may go and worship him."
King Herod was a liar and he served the devil. He told the Jewish scholars to let him know where Yeshua was so that he could go and worship Him. He had no intention of worship but instead was simply looking to eliminate the competition to his leadership.
After they had listened to the king, they went away; and the star which they had seen in the east went in front of them until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
The star that had led them to Jerusalem now rises again and leads them to the house where Yeshua was staying. Once again, we see the direct intervention of God so that they could find the child. This rising again of the star and leading them to Yeshua is supernatural and cannot be explained by science. This is a reminder to us that we do not come to Yeshua Messiah on our own but only through the drawing of God through the Holy Spirit.
Upon entering the house, they saw the child with his mother Miryam; and they prostrated themselves and worshipped him. Then they opened their bags and presented him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
We notice that the Jewish scholars worshiped Yeshua and not Mary. They did not bow down to her and call on her to pray for them. We also see that they presented three types of gifts to Him. The gold was in recognition of His divine birth; the frankincense which was used in worship at the temple as the fragrance of His life which was pleasing to the Father, and the myrrh which was used to bury people.
But they had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they took another route back to their own country.
Once again, we see that God intervened in the affairs of men to keep His plan on track as He appeared to the Jewish scholars in a dream. This reminds us that God is active in revealing His will to His people.
After they had gone, an angel of ADONAI appeared to Yosef in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave. For Herod is going to look for the child in order to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This happened in order to fulfill what ADONAI had said through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."
God intervened again to preserve the life of His Son. This is the fulfillment of the second prophecy concerning the early years of Yeshua. The quote is from Hosea 11:1 where Israel's exodus from Egypt was a picture of the return of the child Yeshua from there. That reminds us that Yeshua came to earth for the purpose of our redemption just as Israel was redeemed from Israel.
Meanwhile, when Herod realized that the Magi had tricked him, he was furious and gave orders to kill all the boys in and around Beit-Lechem who were two years old or less, calculating from the time the Magi had told him. In this way were fulfilled the words spoken through the prophet Yirmeyahu, "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and lamenting loudly. It was Rachel sobbing for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no longer alive."
Herod could not accomplish a targeted killing of Yeshua so he ordered the killing of many boys. Ramah was north of Jerusalem while Bethlehem is to the south. The distance from Ramah to Bethlehem was 20 to 25 miles and all the boys aged two and under in that area were put to death. This ring of death was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah (33:15) and this is the fulfillment of the third prophecy concerning the early years of Yeshua's life. How could God allow this to happen? We can take comfort in the fact that God knows what is best for each and every one of us. Those young boys will be in heaven with Yeshua and that is far better than any time they could have had on this earth.
After Herod's death, an angel of ADONAI appeared in a dream to Yosef in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to Eretz-Yisra'el, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead."
Once again, God intervened by sending an angel to Yosef. It was necessary for Yeshua to leave the influence of Egypt and to be brought up under the Law of Moshe. He came to fulfill the Law and not to replace it so it was required for Him to follow the commandments from the start.
So he got up, took the child and his mother, and went back to Eretz-Yisra'el. However, when he heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Y'hudah, he was afraid to go there. Warned in a dream, he withdrew to the Galil and settled in a town called Natzeret, so that what had been spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he will be called a Natzrati.
We see from this passage that Joseph and Mary knew that Yeshua was the promised King of the Jews. Naturally, the King of the Jews would live in Jerusalem but, once again, God intervened and they went back to live in Nazareth which is where they were from. In Isaiah 11:1, it was said that a shoot would come up from Jesse (the father of King David) and this shoot is also called a Branch referring to Yeshua. The old Hebrew word netzer means sprout and is probably where the city of Nazareth got its name. The fact that Yeshua was raised in Nazareth would make Him a Natzrati and so this is the fulfillment of the fourth prophecy concerning Yeshua's birth and early years.