Matthew 2:13-18

Matthew 2:13-18

We are discussing the Flight into Egypt that the Holy family had taken:

 
The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him that it was time to get the Child out of Bethlehem because Herod would attempt to murder Him.
 
Notice Joseph's instant obedience.
 
No sooner was the angel of the Lord done giving Joseph the message the scriptures say, "He arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt" (Matthew 2:14)
 
That is how we should be ready to obey at any moment when the Lord tells us to obey.
 
(Psalm 119:60)
“I am ready, and am not troubled: that I may keep thy commandments.”
 
When the angel appeared to Joseph the first time in a dream, he told Joseph, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:20b). So that’s what Joseph did. “And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife.” (Matthew 1:24). He didn’t hesitate; he just did it.
 

There is a refreshing immediacy to Joseph’s relationship with God. When God said it, Joseph did it.

 
If you believe God loves you and you want to live a life of obedience in response to his love, then this is how you should respond. Living in immediate obedience to God is a kind of life that breathes with excitement and joy.
 
First John 5:3 says, “For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy.” So if something God asks you to do feels like a burden, what’s wrong? Usually it’s procrastination. When we don’t act right away, it becomes harder to do the longer we wait. But when we do what God says, the most refreshing freedom will come into our lives.
 
This is also why it is so important to teach our children to obey immediately. We want them to learn to obey as Joseph obeyed so that when they come to the age of accountability they will have learned to obey God immediately, with out hesitation.
 
I am writing this to plead with Christian parents to require obedience of their children. I am moved to write this by watching young children pay no attention to their parents’ requests, with no consequences. Parents tell a child two or three times to sit or stop and come or go, and after the third disobedience, they laughingly bribe the child. This may or may not get the behavior desired.
 
I saw two things that prompted me to go a little bit on a rabbit trail. One was the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, California, by police who thought he was about to shoot them with an assault rifle. It was a toy gun. What made this relevant was that the police said they told the boy two times to drop the gun. Instead he turned it on them. They fired.
 
I do not know the details of that situation or if Andy even heard the commands. So I can’t say for sure he was insubordinate. So my point here is not about young Lopez himself. It’s about a “what if.” What if he heard the police, and simply defied what they said? If that is true, it cost him his life. Such would be the price of disobeying proper authority.
 
I witnessed such a scenario in the making on a plane last week. I watched a mother preparing her son to be shot.
 
I was sitting behind her and her son, who may have been seven years old. He was playing on his digital tablet. The flight attendant announced that all electronic devices should be turned off for take off. He didn’t turn it off. The mother didn’t require it. As the flight attendant walked by, she said he needed to turn it off and kept moving. He didn’t do it. The mother didn’t require it.
 
One last time, the flight attendant stood over them and said that the boy would need to give the device to his mother. He turned it off. When the flight attendant took her seat, the boy turned his device back on, and kept it on through the take off. The mother did nothing. I thought to myself, she is training him to be shot by police.
 
What is behind the failure to require and receive obedience? I’m not sure. But it may be that these nine observations will help rescue some parents from the folly of lazy parenting.
 
Requiring obedience of children is implicit in the biblical requirement that children obey their parents.
 
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just.” (Ephesians 6:1).
 
It makes no sense that God would require children to obey parents and yet not require parents to require obedience from the children. It is part of our job — to teach children the glory of a happy, submissive spirit to authorities that God has put in place. Parents represent God to small children, and it is deadly to train children to ignore the commands of God.


 
Parents who do not teach their children to obey God’s appointed authorities prepare them for a life out of step with God’s word — a life out of step with the very gospel they desire to emphasize.

 
 
To watch parents act as if they are helpless in the presence of disobedient children is pitiful. God requires that children obey because it is possible for parents to require obedience. Little children, under a year old, can be shown effectively what they may not touch, bite, pull, poke, spit out, or shriek about. You are bigger than they are. Use your size to save them for joy, not sentence them to selfishness.
 
Requiring obedience should be practiced at home on inconsequential things so that it is possible in public on consequential things.
 
One explanation why children are out of control in public is that they have not been taught to obey at home. One reason for this is that many things at home don’t seem worth the battle. It’s easier to do it ourselves than to take the time and effort to deal with a child’s unwillingness to do it. But this simply trains children that obedience anywhere is optional. Consistency in requiring obedience at home will help your children be enjoyable in public.
It takes effort to require obedience, and it is worth it. If you tell a child to stay in bed and he gets up anyway, it is simply easier to say, go back to  bed, than to get up and deal with the disobedience. Parents are tired. I sympathize. Requiring obedience takes energy, both physically and emotionally. It is easier simply to let the children have their way.
 
“Parents who do not teach their children to obey prepare them for a life out of step with God’s word.”
 
The result? Uncontrollable children when it matters. They have learned how to work the angles. Mommy is powerless, and daddy is a patsy. They can read when you are about to explode. So they defy your words just short of that. This bears sour fruit for everyone. But the work it takes to be immediately consistent with every disobedience bears sweet fruit for parents, children, and others.
 
One reason parents don’t require discipline is they have never seen it done. They come from homes that had two modes: passivity and anger. They know they don’t want to parent in anger. The only alternative they know is passivity. There is good news: this can change. Parents can learn from the Bible and from wise people what is possible, what is commanded, what is wise, and how to do it in a spirit that is patient, firm, loving, and grounded in the gospel.
 
Children need to obey before they can process obedience through faith. When faith comes, the obedience which they have learned from fear and reward and respect will become the natural expression of faith. Not to require obedience before faith is folly. It’s not loving in the long run. It cuts deep furrows of disobedient habits that faith must then not infuse, but overcome.
 
Children whose parents require obedience are happier. Lazy parenting does not produce gracious, humble children. It produces brats. They are neither fun to be around, nor happy themselves. They are demanding and insolent. Their “freedom” is not a blessing to them or others. They are free the way a boat without a rudder is free. They are the victims of their whims. Sooner or later, these whims will be crossed. That spells misery. Or, even a deadly encounter with the police.
 
Since parents represent God to children — especially before they can know God through faith in the gospel — we show them both justice and mercy. Not every disobedience is punished. Some are noted, reproved, and passed over. There is no precise manual for this mixture. Children should learn from our parenting that the God of the gospel is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:7, 29) and that he is patient and slow to anger (1 Timothy 1:16). In both cases — discipline and patience — the aim is quick, happy, thorough obedience. That’s what knowing God in Christ produces.

 

Parents, you can do this. It is a hard season. But there is divine grace for this, and you will be richly rewarded.

 
Now let us continue with Matthew 2:15. It says:
 
"[Joseph] was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son."
 
This is a quotation from Hosea 11:1. This is a marvelous prophecy because it has an historical basis. Out of Egypt the son was called, which was the nation; and out of Egypt the Son was called, who was a Person, this Child. So Joseph took the young Child and the mother to Egypt and stayed there until God called Him out.
 
"Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men." (Matthew 2:16)
 
Part of what I am going to say now is me surmising some things. and part is based on solid fact. As I mentioned before, the wise men did not arrive at the time the shepherds arrived at the stable. The wise men came later, and according to verse 11, the holy family had moved into a house by then. When Herod had had his private session with the wise men, "he inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared." I suppose the wise men said about a year ago." It may have been a year, it may have been longer, but Herod was so infuriated that the wise men did not come back and report concerning the Child, that he probably said, "Well, if they said it was a year ago when they saw the star, I'll just double it and make it two years and kill all the children two years old and younger!" Herod was actually a madman.
 
"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." (Matthew 2:17-18)
 
This is an unusual prophecy, also. Jeremiah didn't say that the weeping would be heard in Bethlehem. I'm sure there was great mourning in Bethlehem, too. But Jeremiah mentions Rama, which is spelled Ramah in the Old Testament. Rama was about as far north of Jerusalem as Bethlehem was south of Jerusalem. and imagine that when the soldiers had been given their orders to slay the children, the captain said to Herod, "Where do you want me to begin? And I think that old Herod said, "Well, just draw a circle around Jerusalem with the radius as far south as Bethlehem and as for north as Rama"-yet Rama was not in anyway involved in it. So, you see, Herod slew a great many children. You can imagine the weeping all the way from Bethlehem to Rama, a radius of about ten to twelve miles, or twenty to twenty-five miles across the area. It must have been a heartbreaking time in the lives of theses people when they lost their little ones. The prophecy given through Jeremiah was literally fulfilled.