The exodus from Egypt has to be a top five, feature in world history. For any Israelite, this event was a defining point in history for an entire nation. It was an event that brought freedom from slavery, victory over oppression, and most of all confirmed the faithfulness, love and compassion of God toward his people. If you were a part of the people of the exodus, you were a testimony of God’s sovereign grace as he transformed a nation of exiled slaves into his own special people in the promised land.
As we read through the book of Matthew, we are forced to contemplate the fulfillment of this event. In Matthew 2:13-23 we are reminded that the great exodus in Moses day is but a shadow of the exodus yet to come through Jesus Christ. By giving his people the exodus, God saved Israel from slavery and brought them to the land of promise. Matthew tells us that after his birth, Jesus was taken into Egypt and returned to Israel. “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” The former exodus from slavery brought God’s people from Egypt into the land of Canaan. The new exodus found in Jesus transforms the very identity of God’s people and brings them out of the slavery of sin and into the eternal glory of reconciliation with God.
The magnitude of Christ is seen in that all events in world history are understood in his light. This is not something for us to simply skip over as if the word “fulfillment” is just a theological term for Seminary Professors. The themes in the Old Testament are orchestrated by God who wove them into real history. Even so, they are warm-up acts of his progressive revelation as the spotlight moves toward the main stage. They tell us something about how the imperfect temporary points to the perfect eternal. The exodus is one great example of how we should see this. Israel were unable to keep God’s covenant. They may have experienced an exodus from Egypt but because of rebelliousness they still found themselves exiled back into the hands of new enemies. As we look at this history we come to realize that the biggest enemy of Israel was not found in any of the surrounding nations but in their own sin. The surrounding nations simply became a tool of God’s judgment. The Old Testament is continually progressing God’s revelation toward a permanent eternal solution in a setting of constant human failure.
One of the things I love most about Matthew is that I am always seeing the hope of true fulfillment. The fulfillment of God’s failed people is found in one successful person. The fulfillment of humans to reflect the image of God is found in the perfect image bearer. The fulfillment of Kings that fall short is found in the King who now reigns over all forever. The fulfillment of priests who constantly sin is found in the Great High Priest who became our perfect sacrifice. The fulfillment of a promised land surrounded by enemies is found in the one who blesses the meek with the whole earth. And we could go on and on…..
The more you center your eyes on Christ as you read the Old Testament, the more you see the wonder of his fulfillment. The more you get excited about that fulfillment, the more you are filled with the certainty of hope. Fulfillment in Christ is the determining factor for our future. In Christ, his perfect completion becomes ours. This world lacks the power of permanency, but Christ has given us all eternal hope in the certainty of his fulfillment. Get excited people! Jesus is Center stage! If your spotlight is pointing anywhere else, you’re missing the main act.