Travel to and Return from Egypt

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Stephen W. Hiemstra 2020 (Ken Burtram Photography)

El Shadai DC Church, Woodbridge, Virginia on 8 de Enero 2021

Prelude

Good evening. Welcome to the El Shadai DC Church. My name is Stephen W. Hiemstra. I am a Christian author and volunteer pastor.

This evening we continue our study over the provision of God in our daily lives.

Today we study Matthew 2:13-23 where we see the escape and return of the Holy family from Egypt.

Invocation

Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father:
All praise and honor are yours because you have given us families who share our joys and pains and most important times in our lives.

Forgive us when we deceive our families and focus more on ourselves than those around us.

Thank you for family meals, vacations together,  and all the sort that our families offer.

Draw us now to yourself.

In the power of the Holy Spirit, open our hearts, illumine our minds, and strengthen our hands in your service.

In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Scripture

The text for today comes from Matthew 2:13-23. Hear the word of the Lord:

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt

 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

 (Matt. 2:13-23 ESV)

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Introduction

What is the story of your life? (2X)

The Stories that we tell give meaning and direction to life. Where do we come from and where are we going and why?

When I worked as a chaplain intern at Providence hospital in Washington DC I learned to listen to the stories of the patients to understand better the emotions and challenges that they faced. Most of the time it was not easy to do this because we are complex people and we are a mystery to ourselves. In spite of this and in the middle of our confusion, we tell personal stories indirectly. The author, John Savage, cites five types of stories that are important in understanding our feelings.

  1.  Anniversary stories recall an event from the past, like a death, on a particular date. Christmas is an anniversary for many people because some very intimate can no longer participate in family celebrations–there is an empty seat.
  2. Transition stories are changes with three parts–before, during, and after. Hospital  visits have reasons why we come to the hospital, treatments we receive, and, God willing, lives that we return to–three parts.The spiritual part to a transition is the third one: what’s next? What have we learned from this experience? For example, what have we learned from this pandemic? Whats the next step?
  3. Reinvestment stories take the form of before and after. Economist becomes a past is a reinvestment story and is part of my story. Conversion is also a reinvestment story.
  4. A “I know someone who” story attempts to tell an embarrassing story without saying who. This type of story is well known among pastor who often tell stories of their own lives.
  5. A story from the past with present significance is your typical story from the Bible.

In today’s text we find this last type of story, a story from the past with present significances. The Holy family escapes to Egypt exactly like the original Joseph and the Nation of Israel.

What type of story is yours? What story from the Bible informs your story about the next step?

Message

In today’s text we find a faithful disciple who connects the present news and the pass stories from the Bible to the future by means of holy dreams. His name, Joseph, and his spiritual gift, interpretation of dreams, remind us of another of God’s servants, Joseph, son of Jacob, who save his family from starvation in Genesis 37-46. This salvation from hunger also requires a trip to Egypt that lasts 400 years. Consequently, we see the trip of the Holy family to Egypt parallels the story of Israel many years prior in scripture. This parallelism is a validation, a story from the past with current meaning, that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied by scripture. 

We know that Joseph is a faithful disciple not only because he interprets dreams, but also because he acts on what he learns and these actions are costly. Advised by his dreams, Joseph first marries a women carrying someone else’s child and later travels in the middle of the night to someone else’s country. Both situations imply risk, expense, and faith. It is obvious that Joseph is a faithful disciple.

Twice in today’s text we read that Jospeh had a dream–go to Egypt and return from Egypt–to fulfill scripture. The text does not say who connected these events to scripture. We know, however, that the threat from King Herod appeared and disappeared before these dreams, news that no doubt was real and obvious to everyone. Clearly, Joseph was a man sensitive to signs of the times. In an Old Testament sense, Joseph had the characteristics of a prophet. We can infer that Joseph was the first person to see the connection between the scriptures, his dreams, and his daily life.

Endgame

What do we learn from this passage? (2X)

First, we learn that it is important to understand our own stories. Second, we learn that many times we live, individually and as a community of faith, a story that parallels a Biblical story. To understand where we are going, we need to understand where we have been.

Consequently, to apply the Bible to our lives, we need to understand the important details of our own lives and the details of the Bible. And in the middle of all this, we need to pay for direction.

What is the story of your life? (2X)

Closing Prayer

Let’s pray.

Loving Father,

Thank you for the blessing of family. Teach us your path day by day in our relationship together.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, give us words of grace and helping hands for those closest to us.

In the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

References

John Savage.  1996.  Listening & Caring Skills:  A Guide for Groups and Leaders.  Nashville:  Abingdon Press.

Travel to and Return from Egypt

Also see:

Sermón por El Shadai DC, Manassas, Virginia, 30 Agosto 2020

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

 

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