just thinking  The Great Foreshadowing: Matthew 1-4

I've been reading and rereading my way slowly through the New Testament book of Matthew and something struck me that I'd never seen before, though I've read Matthew probably a dozen times.

The first four chapters (and perhaps more, but I haven't gotten there yet) parallel the life of the nation of Israel.

There may be more parallels, but it seems that at least Matthew is saying that the whole history of Israel is a foreshadowing or prophesy of Jesus life.

I think I first noticed this in reading Matthew 2:15, that says Jesus' return from Egypt was a fulfillment of the prophesy: "Out of Egypt I called my son." But in looking back at Hosea 11:1 it appears that the passage was referring to God calling the people of Israel (figuratively called "my son") out of Egypt.

When I had casually examined this passage in the past, I kinda thought, "Ya know, Matthew, I think that's a bit of a stretch." But now I believe I see what Matthew meant. He meant that God figuratively calling "his son" out of Egypt was a foreshadowing of God literally calling "his son" out of Egypt.

Further, the parallelism was emphasized for me with Jesus' answer when the devil tempted him to make food out of rocks. Jesus, enduring trials in the wilderness, quoted Deut. 8:3, which speaks of Israel enduring trials in the wilderness. That pretty much clinched it for me that the parallels were not an accident but quite intentional.

So anyway, so what if the history of Israel foreshadows the life of Jesus?

Well, I think there is a lot more to it than I'm seeing, but one obvious answer is that it reinforces the point - as I mentioned in the essay about Jesus' genealogy - that Jesus wasn't someone who just appeared out of the blue, but that he is central and all-important in God's plan. That a nation - a whole nation - should be used by God to foreshadow the life of one man makes me shiver with awe at how great that man must be.

3/09/2007 08:31:00 AM | Permalink | 0 comments