Sermon # 4 Series: Matthew


            Title:             SATAN’S FIRST ASSAULT
            Text:             Matthew 2:13-23
            Subject:        The Flight of Christ Into Egypt  and His Return to Nazareth
            Date:            Tuesday Evening -- June 14, 1994
            Tape:            # Q-17




            From the beginning of time satan has opposed his Creator. When God made known to his holy angels his intention to save sinful men by the blood and righteousness of Christ and thus to exalt manhood to the place of highest dominion over all creation, so that even the angels would be servants to chosen, redeemed sinners, Lucifer said, “No I will not be servant to man. I will be like the Most High” And he led one third of the heavenly host in rebellion against God and against the purpose of God. From the beginning of time, satan has been opposed to Christ and has attempted to nullify the purpose of God. And so it shall be until time shall be no more and the old serpent, the devil is cast into the lake of fire. In the passage of Scripture now before us the Holy Spirit describes satan’s first assault against the incarnate Christ, his first attempt to destroy the Savior and keep him from accomplishing the redemption of his people. But there is no cause for alarm or fear. Though satan goes about the earth as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, all his devices and plans are easily foiled by our omnipotent God. Our God is so infinitely and totally sovereign that he is not only beyond the reach of satan, and able to foil the old serpent’s plans, but he even makes satan’s deeds and devices subservient to his own great purpose of grace, as we shall see in this passage.


            The historical events here recorded are easily and quickly perceived by the most casual reader.


            vv. 13-15 – The Flight into Egypt. Being commanded by the angel of the Lord to do so, Joseph took the young child and his mother, and fled into Egypt to escape the fury of Herod.


            vv. 16-18 – The Slaying of the Infants – Many translations and editions of the Bible place a caption above this passage and calling it “the slaying of the innocents.” But that is not accurate. Though babies are innocent of willful transgression and have not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, they are far from innocent. They have been born in sin (Ps. 51:5). Adam’s transgression is imputed to all and his nature imparted to all; so that from infancy we are estranged from God (Ps. 58:3) and full of enmity toward God (Rom. 8:7).


            In his fury and jealousy Herod gave command that every infant in Bethlehem two years old and under be slain. It is almost beyond conception that such an order could be given, much less carried out. Greater, more barbaric cruelty cannot be imagined. Yet, in our day, thousands of mothers murder their unborn children in their own wombs, not to protect a crown like Herod, but to avoid the inconvenience of an unwanted child!


            vv. 19-23 – The Return from Egypt and Settlement


In Nazareth – After Herod died, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him to return with his family from Egypt, which he did and settled in the little town of Nazareth, where our Lord was raised as the carpenter’s son.


            Those are the historic events covered by these verses. But what do these verses teach us? What lessons do they unfold? What spiritual truths do they illustrate?


I.  The very first thing that confronts us in this passage is The Ministry of The Holy Angels.


            Again and again in these first two chapters we are told “the angel of the Lord appeared” to Joseph (1:20; 2:13; 2:19). In those days the angles of God were frequently used by God to be special messengers of grace. I do not hesitate to avow that God does not speak to men today by angels. He has spoken and speaks to us by his Word. We need no other Word from him (II Pet. 1:19-21).


            But that does not at all imply that the angels of God are inactive, or that they no longer serve God’s elect. I do not pretend to know a great deal about angels. But I do know that…


A.  The angels of God reverently wait at the throne of God to do his will (Isa. 6:2).


B.  The angels of God encamp round about God’s saints to protect them (Ps. 34:7; II Kings 6:17).


C.  The angels of God are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14)


D.  The angels of God attend the worship of God’s saints and the ministry of the word with keen interest, hoping to learn from us the wonders of redeeming, saving grace and love (Eph. 3:10-11).


E.  The angels rejoice every time a sinner repents of his sin, trusting Christ as his Savior and Lord (Lk. 15:10).


II.  Secondly, these verses of Scripture stand as an irrefutable testimony to The Inspiration and Divine Origin of The Bible.


            I know that many today and throughout history have given vague words of prophecy that might be fulfilled in many different ways. And foolish men and women are certain that the lying dreamers and fortune tellers are inspired of God. But Bible prophecies are not vague representations of what might be. Prophecy in the Bible gives names and details with such clarity that, when the prophecies have been fulfilled, they stand irrefutable proofs that the Bible is of Divine Origin and is Divinely Inspired, as it claims to be.


            Matthew, more than any of the other gospel writers, takes notice of the fulfilling of the Old Testament Scriptures by Christ. He does so because his gospel was the first to be published among the Jews who held the Old Testament alone to be the Word of God.


A.  Everything Mathew has told us thus far has been the unfolding of Old Testament prophecy.


1.      The birth of Christ at Bethlehem (v. 6) fulfilled Micah 5:2.

2.      The flight of Joseph into Egypt with the young child and his mother was necessary for the fulfillment of Numbers 24:8  and Hosea 11:1.


“It is no new thing for God’s sons to be in Egypt,” wrote Matthew Henry. “They  may be hid in Egypt, but they shall not be left there.” Though often found in the strange land and house of bondage, at the time appointed, they are fetched out by almighty grace. All God’s elect, being children of wrath by nature, were born in a spiritual Egypt. But in conversion they are called out by effectual power. Even so, as Israel was brought out of Egypt and highly honored, Christ Jesus was brought out of Egypt that he might be brought up to glory. Thus the Scriptures were fulfilled.


3.      The slaughter of the infants by Herod fulfilled the words of Jeremiah 31:15 – (vv. 17-18).

4.      The fact that the Lord Jesus was raised in Nazareth as a Nazarene (v. 23) fulfilled the universal consensus of the prophets that he would be despised and rejected of men.

·        “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

·        Perhaps reference is to Isaiah 11:1 – The word Branch is Natzar from which the word Nazareth comes, which means a shoot, or a sprout.


B.  Being the Divine Inspired, Inerrant Word of God, the Bible alone is our Rule of Faith and Practice – (II Tim. 3:16-17; Isa. 8:20).


            “Thus saith the Lord, “is the standard by which all things in the church of God must be judged and determined.


·        Doctrine!

·        Ordinances!

·        Rules of Conduct!


III.  Thirdly, Herod stands before us as an example Man’s Opposition To Christ and His Cause.


            The Lord Jesus came down from heaven to save poor sinners. What could be more noble and beneficial? But as soon as he came into the world satan had Herod in place and inspired his heart with barbaric cruelty to “seek the young child to destroy him.”


            Reprobate interpreters of history tell us that Christianity has been the cause of great cruelty and bloodshed. But if they were honest they would say, It has not been Christianity, but man’s opposition to Christianity that has been the cause of great cruelty and bloodshed.


            Here are three things that we must never forget, or expect to change…


A.  The cross of Christ and the gospel of God’s free grace in him is an offence and stumbling block to unregenerate men (I Cor. 1:21-23; Gal. 5:11) – “They hated me without a cause.”


B.  The great, powerful, influential men of this world, though they are almost always religious, are the foes, not the friends of righteousness.


·        Josiahs are Few!

·        Herods are Legion!


C.  The cause of Christ does not depend upon and must never seek the power and patronage of princes – It is written, “Put not your trust in princes” (Ps. 146:3).


IV.  Fourthly, in all that is recorded in these verses we are again reminded of The Sovereign Rule and Wondrous Mystery of Divine Providence.


            Satan wanted the Christ child destroyed. So he moved Herod with the rage of petty jealousy to kill him. But God had other purposes and designs, which he used Herod to accomplish (Ps. 76:10).


A.  Herod’s wrath forced Joseph to flee with the young child and his mother into Egypt to fulfill Holy Scripture.


B.  Herod’s slaying of the infants in Bethlehem, his hell-inspired, hell-bent slaughter of babies, was the means of God’s mercy to those who were slaughtered.


            Men often accuse us of preaching that babies go to hell. But you have never heard such a thing from this pulpit. I fully agree with Spurgeon who wrote… (vv. 17-18) –


            “Our Rachels still weep; but holy women who know the Lord Jesus, do not now say concerning their little ones that ‘they are not.’ They know that their children are, and they know where they are, and they expect to meet them again in glory. Surely, if these women had but known, the might have been comforted by the fact, that though their little ones were slain, The Childrens’ Friend had escaped, and still lived to be the Savior of all who die before committing actual transgression.”


            Illus: David’s Son – “He cannot return to me, but I shall go to him.”


V.  Fifthly, Joseph here stands before us as an example of The Obedience of Faith.


            When the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, “Arise, take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, “he did not pause to pack his bags, go on dubitation to raise support, or solicit funds to make it possible for him to do what God commanded to do what God commanded. He simply took his family to Egypt. When the angel of the Lord told him to return to the land of Israel, he returned.


            “True faith always produceth obedience to the precept of it…They indeed believe not the Scriptures to be the Word of God, who take no care to live up to the rule of life prescribed in them.” – Matthew Poole.


·        John 2:5 – “Do it!”

·        Galatians 1:15-16 – “Confer not with flesh and blood!”

·        James 2:14-19 – “Faith without works is dead.”


The only thing that causes disobedience is unbelief. Precisely to the degree that we believe God we obey him.


VI.  Sixthly, our text shows us a great example of The Humiliation of Christ as Our Mediator.


            When the Son of God lived on this earth he spent 30 of his 33 years in Nazareth, a small, obscure despised town in Galilee. No one lived in Nazareth except those who could not afford to live anywhere else. This is where the Son of God chose to reside. Let us learn from his example.


A.  Do Not seek great things for yourself – (Jer. 45:5).


It is not nearly as important as people imagine it is to have property, position, power, praise, and money. It is very great sin to be covetous and proud. But it is no sin to be poor. “It matters not so much what money we have, and where we live, as what we are in the sight of God. Where are we going when we die? Shall we live forever in heaven? These are the main things which we should attend.” – J.C. Ryle


B.  Great riches are a great danger to any man’s soul.


            Those who seek the riches of this world know not what they seek. They are likely to fill your heart with pride and chain your affections to this world.


            Illus: “These are the things that make it hard to die.”


            Our Lord said “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God!” “How hardy shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God?”


            Seek not riches, but righteousness. Seek not money, but mercy. Seek not greatness, but grace.


VII.  Last, but certainly not least, our text shows us that Death Is A Great Leveler.


            “Herod was dead!” Death enters the palace of kings just as it does the dens of paupers. None can resist it’s power. The murderer of helpless infants was himself helpless before the Lord God when the hour of his departure from this world had come.


A.  At the hour appointed, you too shall die.

B.  After death, you will stand before God in judgment.

C.  After judgment you will spend eternity somewhere – Either in Heaven, or in Hell!


·        Where will you spend eternity?

·        Are you prepared to meet God?

·        The only way to be accepted with the Holy Lord God is to be washed in Christ’s Blood and Robed in His Righteousness – For that, you must trust him! God help you to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”