DAY EIGHT (8 DEC 2020) - COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS
“When they had gone, 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.”
Matthew 2: 13
Extra readings: Matthew 2: 12-15; Jeremiah 42 and 43
As we saw in yesterday’s devotion, the Magi made the fatal mistake of confiding in Herod. Herod, being a highly unspiritual man, assumed his earthly authority was under threat and was soon on the trail. Once again, Joseph was warned in a dream and told to go to Egypt.
Egypt?! Really!? If we think of relations between Israel and Egypt today, or we think of the symbolism of Egypt as representative of ‘the world’, we imagine that Egypt should have been the last place that the family went to in order to be safe. But the Egypt of 5BC was a friendly neighbour with a large Jewish community who mostly lived in a neighbourhood of Cairo that is still there today, called Masr Oedema (Old Cairo). The synagogue that is still there to this day was where poor Jeremiah was stoned (Jeremiah 42and 43) – and it would have stood at the centre of the Jewish community when Joseph and Mary and Jesus arrived in Egypt in c.5BC.
Although the route followed by the family is not recorded in Scripture, Coptic (Egyptian) Christians have identified about twenty-five places where they believe that Mary, Jesus and Joseph stayed during their approximately 3-year stay in Egypt. Once of those places is situated halfway between Cairo and Alexandria today and is called Wadi Natrun. It is the where the current Pope of the Coptic Church lives. If you’re interested in seeing more, go to the link below.
Up to now in the story you must have been struck by how vital human obedience is if we’re to see the plans of God come to fruition on the Earth. If Mary had not been faithful and obedient? If Joseph had explained away the angelic visits and the dreams? Or told everyone about them but not acted on them? Or the Magi had scoffed at their dream and simply returned to tell Herod where to find the young Jesus? There would be no Christmas story, no salvation plan. God is all-powerful, yes, but human co-operation, faith and obedience is vital. There can be no apathy around the Word and instruction of the Lord.
Heavenly Father, how apathetic I have been. Forgive me. I now see that human obedience is the vital link to seeing Your will transacted on Earth.
Want to do this devotional as a family?