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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 3, by Kevin M. Williams

And as related previously, there appears to be something special about Egypt in God’s heart. The prophet Isaiah has great promises for Israel’s neighbor:

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, . . . In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isaiah 19:23-25).

Reading today’s news headlines, it is difficult to comprehend how this will happen, yet “with God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

It is interesting to note, that on October 26, 1994, the final article of the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Agreement agrees to the construction of a physical highway between Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Assyria (modern Syria). What God is about to accomplish in the supernatural realm, he often signals first in the natural realm. Let those who have eyes, see!

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Our chronicler, Matthew, then goes on to make what has become a controversial statement:

Matthew 2:15

He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Of course, Matthew is referencing Hosea 11:1. It is controversial because while this is used as a proof text by Christian evangelicals trying to win Hebrews for the Messiah, it is rejected by most Jewish people—at least the ones that know the Bible. They turn to Exodus 4:22, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.”’” For the non-believing Jew, Hosea 11:1 was fulfilled in the great Exodus, when God did, indeed call the His firstborn, the Jewish people, out of Egypt.

Yet, Hosea knew this as antiquity when his book was penned. Hosea is not a book of history, but of prophecy, not of past events but of future truths. While some among our Jewish brethren may wish to discount Matthew’s comment, it means they must also question not only Hosea as a prophet, but God Almighty since the passage reads, “which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet.”

The context reveals a secret: It was a matter of historical fact, yet it was being spoken “through the prophet” many centuries after the fact.

This is where our models of interpretation may be useful, specifically p’shat and remez (literal and implied).* In a literal reading of the text, your only conclusion is that Hosea is speaking of the nation of Israel. However common this type of grammatical-historical exegesis may be, it neglects that fact that Hosea is a prophetic book. Therefore, albeit a historical reality, by the very context of a prophetic utterance, it would seem the text calls out for the reader to take a deeper look.

To explain this passage of Hosea, we must first take a short digression.

The role of the biblical sacrifice was to be a substitutionary atonement. In other words, the animal giving its life was a substitute for the person in sin. In the grander picture, the High Priest had to offer up a bull for his sins, since he represented the entire nation before God. If this was true of the substitute and if a single man represented the nation Israel before the Mercy Seat of the Most High, how much more then, is this true of God’s own Son, the Messiah of Israel?

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2001, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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