Thus born, thus characterised by the angel and fulfilling the prophecies
that announced the presence of Emmanuel, He is formally acknowledged King
of the Jews by the Gentiles, who are guided by the will of God acting on
the hearts of their wise men.
[see note #4] That is to say, we find the Lord,
Emmanuel, the Son of David, Jehovah the Saviour, the Son of God, born King
of the Jews, recognised by the heads of the Gentiles. This is the testimony
of God in Matthew's Gospel, and the character in which Jesus is there
presented. Afterwards, in the presence of Jesus thus revealed, we see the
leaders of the Jews in connection with a foreign king, knowing however as a
system the revelations of God in His word, but wholly indifferent to Him
who was their object; and this king, the fierce enemy of the Lord, the true
King and Messiah, seeking to put Him to death.
The providence of God watches over the child born unto Israel, employing
means that leave the responsibility of the nation its full place; and that
accomplish at the same time all the intentions of God with regard to this
only true remnant of Israel, this only true source of hope for the people.
For, out of Him, all would fall and suffer the consequences of being
connected with the people.
Gone down into Egypt to avoid the cruel design of Herod to take away His
life, He becomes the true Branch; He recommences (that is, morally) the
history of Israel in His own Person, as well as (in a wider sense) the
history of man as the second Adam in relation with God: only that for this
His death must come in-for all, no doubt, for blessing. But He was Son of
God and Messiah, Son of David then. But to take His own place as Son of man
He must die (see John 12). It is not only the prophecy of Hosea, "out of
Egypt have I called my Son", which thus applies to this true beginning of
Israel in grace (as the beloved of God), and according to His counsels (the
people having entirely failed, so that without this, God must have cut them
off). We have seen, in Isaiah, Israel the servant giving place to Christ
the Servant, who gathers a faithful remnant (the children whom God has
given Him while He hides His face from the house of Jacob), that become the
nucleus of the new nation of Israel according to God. Chapter 49 of that
prophet gives this transition from Israel to Christ in a striking manner.
Moreover this is the basis of all the history of Israel, looked at as
having failed under the law, and being re-established in grace. Christ is
morally the new stock from which they spring (compare Isaiah 49: 3, 5).
[see note #5]
Herod being dead, God makes it known to Joseph, in a dream, commanding him
to return, with the young child and its mother, into the land of Israel. We
should remark, that the land is here mentioned by the name that recalls the
privileges bestowed by God. It is neither Judea nor Galilee; it is "the
land of Israel." But can the Son of David, in entering it, approach the
throne of His fathers? No: He must take the place of a stranger among the
despised of His people. Directed by God in a dream, Joseph carries Him into
Galilee, whose inhabitants were objects of sovereign contempt to the Jews,
as not being in habitual connection with Jerusalem and Judea, the land of
David, of the kings acknowledged by God, and of the temple, and where even
the dialect of the language common to both betrayed their practical
separation from that part of the nation which, by the favour of God, had
returned to Judea from Babylon.
Even in Galilee Joseph establishes himself in a place, the very name of
which was a reproach to one who dwelt there, and a blot on his reputation.
Such was the position of the Son of God when He came into this world, and
such the relationship of the Son of David with His people, when, by grace
and according to the counsels of God, He stood amongst them. On the one
hand, Emmanuel, Jehovah their Saviour, on the other, the Son of David; but,
while taking His place among His people, associated with the poorest and
most despised of the flock, sheltered in Galilee from the iniquity of a
false king, who, by help of the Gentiles of the fourth monarchy, was
reigning over Judea, and with whom the priests and rulers of the people
were in connection; the latter, unfaithful to God and dissatisfied with
men, proudly detesting a yoke which their sins had brought upon them, and
which they dared not shake off, although they were not sufficiently
sensible of their sins to submit to it as the just infliction of God. Thus
is it that the Messiah is presented to us by this evangelist, or rather by
the Holy Ghost, in connection with Israel.