“Then he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and went to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: ‘I called my Son out of Egypt’” (Matthew 2:14–15, NET).
The aftermath of the first Christmas was not pretty. Herod was bent on killing the newborn “king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2), so the Lord warned Joseph to flee with his family to Egypt. This turn of events fulfilled Hosea 11:1, where God declared: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” Hosea referred to how God brought Israel out of Egypt under Moses, only to have his people rebel (Hosea 11:2). So how did Jesus’ journey to Egypt fulfill Hosea’s words? Sometimes, as here, prophetic fulfillment involves the completion of a pattern that was established in the Old Testament and realized fully in Jesus. Israel’s early history set a pattern for Jesus’ experience. Just as Israel, God’s “son,” went down to Egypt and then returned, so Jesus, God’s greater Son, did the same. This repetition of history signals the fact that Jesus is the ideal Israel who, as prophesied by Isaiah, would succeed in carrying out God’s purposes, where the blind and exiled nation Israel had failed (cf. Isaiah 49:3–6).
God’s “Son” Jesus, the ideal Israel, faced testing in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11) in the form of physical hunger, just like God’s ancient “son” Israel. But unlike the nation, which grumbled and tried the Lord’s patience, Jesus refused to let His hunger get the best of Him and maintained His loyalty to God. In combating Satan, He even quoted passages from Deuteronomy where Moses recalled Israel’s failure in the wilderness (6:13–16; 8:2–3). In Jesus the ideal Israel had arrived. He would save Israel from bondage, establish a new covenant community, and take the light of God’s salvation to the nations.