Matt 2:2 Not the Jews But the Gentiles Seek for Jesus 3/11/2018 ßà
#1. They Rejoiced With Exceeding Great Joy (Matt 2:1-10, Num 24:17-19, Gal 4:25, Rev 22:16, Isa 14:12)
#2. The New House of Israel (Matt 2:11-15, Hos 11:1, Heb 8:10, Isa 49:3,6, Joh 12:13-15)
#3. The Land of Israel (Matt 2:16-23, Eze 11:17-19, 1Cor 2:2)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, Matt 2:1 (2X). Last week we began a new series in the Gospel according to Matthew. In fact we can say that we started a survey of the NT through OT eyes. This survey was prompted by the fist sermon in Gen 12, where we looked at Abram, and where we saw that the purpose of God to pick out Abram was that he would be the first one of the OT congregation. But from the words in Gen 12, and from what we know of the rest of the Bible, we can see that it was God’s plan to reach out to all the nations of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified. It was not God’s plan to continue His favors on the descendants of Abraham, but it was God’s plan to prepare the stage for the Lord Jesus to be crucified, and then God would reach out into all the world. It is a mistake to think of our God as a tribal god, who lavishes His favors only on the 13 tribes that descended from Jacob, and who allows the church to flourish only for a season, the church age. That is why we turned to the NT to see if this is really so. And so, we want to know if the rules have changed beginning with the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we will find is:
Is God preparing the stage to show us that the focus of His grace will be on the remnant chosen by grace out of all the nations of the world? And will this change of focus of His grace be effective from the time that Christ died on the cross? Last week we saw that the theme of Matt chapter 1 was: “A New Beginning: God With Us” (2X). This is the theme permeating the entire chapter of Matt 1. Actually I should add to this title: ”The New Israel”. I did not do that last week, since I did not have time to develop the reasons for calling Christ “Israel”. The theme of Matthew chapter 2 is: “Not the Jews But the Gentiles Seek for Jesus” (2X), and I will show you that this is the theme permeating this entire chapter. Right from the start of the NT God indicates that there is a change in the works. Not only is there A New Israel, but we may add to the title of this theme: “The New House of Israel” (2X). God lets us know here in Matt 2 that for the physical descendants of Jacob their love for God and their fear of God is getting old and cold. And then we shall also see that for a remnant of the Gentiles their love for God and their fear of God is firing up. For example we read in Matt 2:10,
#1. They Rejoiced With Exceeding Great Joy (Matt 2:1-10, Num 24:17-19, Gal 4:25, Rev 22:16, Isa 14:12). You may recognize that I preached on this passage in December of 2006. You can use this sermon as a supplement to last year’s sermon, and together they form one harmonious whole.
Mt 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
Mt 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Mt 2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
Mt 2:5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
Mt 2:6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Mt 2:7-8 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
Mt 2:9 ¶ When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
Mt 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Who and what do we see here? We see an undisclosed number of wise men from the east, who were astrologers from outside the Roman Empire, learned men who have studied all the documents they could get their hands on, and who probably had copies of the Hebrew scrolls, copied from the time that the Jews were captives in Babylon, and they had become interested in the religion of the Jews. They probably read in one of the scrolls of Moses about the Star that shall come out of Jacob. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Numbers, Num 24:17 (2X). Gen, Ex, Lev, Num. We have here the story of the false prophet Balaam who was paid by the king of Moab to curse the nation of Israel. But he could not do it. God put words in the mouth of this wicked soothsayer so that instead of curses there flowed out only blessings for the nation of Israel. We read here in Num 24:17-19,
What does this mean? God put these words in the mouth of the false prophet Balaam. This is a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ, describing Him as a Star that shall come out of Jacob. In other words, He shall be a physical descendant of Jacob. When God speaks about a Sceptre, it means that this Star out of Jacob shall be a King. Eventually He shall smite His enemies, pictured here as Moab, and Sheth, and Edom. This is He that shall come out of Jacob. And He shall have dominion, which means He shall have a Kingdom. Since His Kingdom is not of this world, in the end He shall destroy those that remain of the city, which refers to the earthly city, Jerusalem which now is, (Gal 4:25).
Please turn to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 22:16 (2X). This is the last chapter in your Bibles. In Rev 21:9 the Lord sent a messenger to John to show him around in the NH&NE, and also to let us know the symbolism of the things in the New Jerusalem. And there we read in Rev 22:16,
Re 22:16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
The Lord Jesus is identified as “the bright and morning star”. We want to take note of this for two
reasons: First, It was a bright star that led the wise men to the nation of the Jews, believing that the Star out of Jacob has now been born. Secondly, we want Bibles which have the correct translation of Isa 14:12, where Satan is spoken of as “O Lucifer, son of the morning”. We do not want Bibles which translate Isa 14:12 as “O morning star, son of the dawn”, for that would make Jesus the brother of Satan. Please turn now to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 2:28 (2X).
In this chapter God explains that He is not a respecter of persons. Whether someone is a physical descendant of Jacob, or a Gentile, the overriding factor in God’s eyes is whether he obeys the Law. And thus if a circumcised person breaks the Law he is just as much under the wrath of God as an uncircumcised person who breaks the Law. God says in Rom 2:25 (2X),
Ro 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
And who keeps the Law? Only the Lord Jesus Christ kept the Law, for He was the spotless Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. But the life of Christ shall be a substitute for the life of every sinner who was and is IN Christ. And thus all those who are IN Christ can also claim that they have kept the Law perfectly, for that is the privilege that we have when Christ is our Substitute. Not only His suffering and death is substituted for our atonement, but also His life is substituted for ours. And thus since Christ’s righteousness is also substituted for ours, in God’s sight we are totally as righteous as Christ, and we obey the Law like Christ obeyed. Please drop down to Rom 2:28 (2X).
What do we see here? We see that the unbelieving children of Jacob are immediately disqualified from being called Jews, and instead God calls those who are IN Christ the real Jews. Those who are IN Christ are, or will be, regenerated in their souls, and thus they are the ones who are, or will be, circumcised in the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter. They will not be acknowledged by society as legitimate Jews, for their praise is not of men, but of God. We need to keep this fact in mind when we speak of spiritual things, for this is how God sees us, and this is what counts. The first objective of God giving us the Bible is so that we may be right with God. Most people think that God’s objective in the giving of the Bible was to make us right with our fellow man, and to get along with our fellow man. But that is not so. To become right with God is our first objective, for we have sinned against God, and if we are still under His wrath He will cast us into Hell. And so, what do we see here in Rom 2? We see that after the cross the rules have changed. The nation of Jews before the cross is no longer considered God’s favorite nation. Instead God now favors a new nation of Jews, spiritual Jews, who are not circumcised in the flesh but in the heart. Each individual in this new nation of Jews after the cross has been redeemed, Exagorazo: he has been purchased out of the slave market of Sin and Satan and has been set free by Christ, and each redeemed individual has enlisted himself as a soldier in the army of Christ. But the descendants from Jacob are no longer entitled to the privileges they inherited from Abraham, for in God’s eyes they are no longer children of Abraham. Rom 4:12 clearly says that they are no longer children of Abraham. And thus they are no longer heirs to the real estate there east of the Mediterranean, since after the cross the rules have changed.
Did you remember that the wise men in Matt 2:2 were looking for the King of the Jews? This new nation of Jews has a King over them. The Lord Jesus is their King. We read in Matt 27:11,
Mt 27:11 ¶
We want to print this in our memory, for the Lord Jesus did not deny that He was the King of the Jews. But He was speaking of the nation of Jews after the cross. We know this, for the Lord Jesus said to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world”. Therefore when we harmonize these statements we know for sure that Matt 27:11 speaks of the King of the new nation of Jews. We read in Luke 23:38,
Lu 23:38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Again, the Lord Jesus was crucified for the nation of spiritual Jews that He represented. And to make sure that all the world knows this, the declaration was written in Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew.
These are far reaching incisive conclusions. Can we confirm these conclusions? Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 8:8 (2X). Who really are the Hebrews whom God is addressing in this Epistle? He is not addressing the descendants of Jacob, for we read in Heb 3 and Heb 4 how God was disgusted with the lack of faith and the ingratitude of the people He delivered from slavery in Egypt. Instead God is addressing the new nation of spiritual Jews, who now have their own High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec. And to them God says in Heb 8:8-10,
Heb 8:8 For finding fault with them (OT Israel), he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
“The house of Judah” in verse 8 is the house of the Jews, for the name Jew is derived from the name Judah. “The house of Israel” will be discussed in the next section. Very plainly, God says in this passage, that He was disgusted with OT Israel, “because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not”. And so, God did away that nation and the Covenant He has made with them, and after the cross God set up a new nation of Jews whom He calls the house of Judah and the house of Israel, and God makes a new Covenant with them. It is the Covenant of Grace, whereby God takes all the action and God gets all the credit for saving them. And so we see that we have arrived at:
#2. The New House of Israel (Matt 2:11-15, Hos 11:1, Heb 8:10, Isa 49:3,6, Joh 12:13-15)
Please turn again to the Gospel according to Matthew, Matt 2:11 (2X). We have seen some disturbing things in Jerusalem. Herod the king “was troubled and all Jerusalem with him”. That Herod was troubled we can understand for he was a wicked Idumean. But all those in Jerusalem supposedly were looking forward to the coming of Messiah, who was promised to Abraham, and to David. Should not they, who were in awe with David, have grabbed every opportunity to meet this Messiah? And did you notice that none of the people in Jerusalem was willing to accompany the wise men to Bethlehem even though the priests clearly said that this Star that the wise men had seen must be pointing to the Messiah? Does this not reflect that God was beginning to abandon the nation of Israel, except for a remnant chosen by grace? Does this not tell us that not the Jews but the Gentiles seek for Jesus? These wise men had invested much of their time and money to find this “King of the Jews”. They had not left a stone unturned to find the God whom they wanted to worship. We read in Matt 2:11-15,
Mt 2:13 ¶
Mt 2:14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
Mt 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
What do we see here? These Gentiles fell down and worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew only a small portion of the OT. But with the help of God the Holy Spirit, it was sufficient to lead them to Jesus and to worship the only true God of the Bible. But Herod and all those in Jerusalem who claimed to know the entire OT, including the soldiers sent to Bethlehem, were together ganging up with the Gentiles against the house of David. This was the sign spoken of by God in Isa 7:2.
But what do we read here in Matt 2:15? “Out of Egypt have I called my son”? Where in the OT do we find this statement? The only place in the Bible that can be related to this verse is Hos 11:1,
Ho 11:1 ¶
Without the revelation of the NT we would think that Hos 11:1 refers to the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt. But with the statement in Matt 2:15 we know that this verse, Hos 11:1, refers to Christ and that Christ is called Israel. Now that is a surprise to most churches who claim to know the Bible. But we can see that unambiguously God is calling Christ Israel. And thus, all those IN Christ are also called Israel, for we bear the name of our Bridegroom. And so, when we read in the Bible about “The House of Israel”, we must let the context decide if this refers to the nation of physical descendants of Jacob, or if this refers to the nation of spiritual Jews, who are also called Israel since the Bible says that we were IN Christ from before the foundation of the world. And thus, when we read in Heb 8:10, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord”, this refers to the House of Israel after the cross; it is the house of Christ after the cross. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 49:3 (2X). Once we know that Christ is called Israel, suddenly we find many other verses in the Bible that say the same thing. For example, when we turn to Isa 49 we see that Isa 49:1-10 is the 8th servant song in this prophecy of Isaiah, referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. And then God addresses Christ in Isa 49:3,
Isa 49:3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
Without question, Christ is called “Israel”. And Christ is called to be a light to the Gentiles. Verse 6
Isa 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
It is a light thing for Christ to restore the remnant chosen by grace out of the old nation of Israel. It is a much heavier task for Christ to be a light to the Gentiles, for then He must also suffer and die for the sins of all those Gentiles whom God chose to be IN Christ from before the foundation of the world. And so we see that it was all along God’s plan to reach out to all the nations in the world with the Gospel of salvation through the cross of Christ. Please turn now to the Gospel according to John, John 12:13 (2X). We have here the event of the triumphal entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem, riding on two donkeys. The time was the Sunday before He went to the cross. And all those people who hailed Him as their King on Sunday, would shout “Crucify Him” on Friday. We read in Joh 12:13,
But what did they shout exactly? “Blessed is the King of Israel”. God let this stand, and God wrote this in the Bible to let us know that the Lord Jesus is that King of the new house of Israel. That is why we find in Rom 9:6, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”. Not all the descendants of Jacob are called Israel in the eyes of God, but only those who are of the Israel of God.
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 6:15 (2X). You find the Epistle to the
Galatians right after 1st and 2nd Cor. The Galatian churches were pursued by Judaizers who claimed that you cannot be saved unless you also obey the Law of Moses. But God declared, through the apostle Paul, that obedience to the Law of Moses meant that you also must obey all things in the Law and you must obey them perfectly. But since no human being, except Christ, can obey the Law perfectly, this is not the route to salvation. Therefore we read in Gal 6:15-16,
Who is the Israel of God? Verse 15 answers, those who have been converted into a new creature, which means those who have been “Born again” or “Born from above”. These are not two different categories of saved people, but one and the same group, for those who belong to Christ, Israel, are always one and the same group of saints. Please turn one page to your left, to Gal 4:25 (2X). God says that the events between Abraham, and Sarah, and Hagar were orchestrated by God to create an allegory of two covenants, one covenant that keeps people in bondage to sin and Satan, and another covenant that leads to salvation. God was not the originator of Abraham’s sin, but God used the occasion to declare some spiritual truths about these two covenants. We read in Gal 4:25-26,
What do we find here? “Mount Sinai in Arabia” is where the Law was given to Moses. “Jerusalem which now is” are the physical descendants of Jacob who refuse to believe in Christ as their Messiah. Instead they prefer to adhere to the Law of Moses. For that reason God says they are the children of Hagar, and they are still in bondage with their children, which means that they are still on the way to Hell like the rest of unsaved mankind. But the children of Sarah are identified as “Jerusalem which is above”, which is the New Jerusalem in heaven that we are presently citizens of. And thus we see in this passage that after the cross there are two cities called Jerusalem: “Jerusalem which now is”, which represents all unsaved children of Jacob, and “Jerusalem which is above”, which represents all those who have been saved by grace, through the cross of Christ. We need to print these verses in our memory, so that we no longer identify the unsaved descendants of Jacob as the holy people, or God’s favorite people, or the special people of God. They are just one of the nations among the many nations of the world. Please turn one page to your left, to Gal 3:28 (2X). In this chapter God outlines the purpose of the Law. God says in this chapter that it was never His intent that obedience to the Law would lead to salvation. On the contrary, the Law would teach us our sinfulness, so that we would be drawn to seek for forgiveness of our sins through the cross of Christ. But once we have been regenerated and have been enrolled in the army of Christ, there is no more distinction of our original descent. Remember that John 1:13 says, “Not of blood”, meaning that those who have been
born from above are not selected based on their bloodline. Therefore we read in Gal 3:28-29,
Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Ga 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
And thus we see that all those who have become saved are “A House Not Divided”. We are all called Jews because Christ is the High Priest from Judah, and we are all called Israel because Christ is called Israel, and we are all called Abraham’s seed because Christ is called Abraham’s Seed, and we are all citizens of the Jerusalem that is above because that is where Christ is, and we are all one IN Christ, because we were chosen IN Christ from before the foundation of the world. This we must believe because this is the language of the Bible. Please return to the Gospel of Matt, Matt 2:16 (2X).
#3. The Land of Israel (Matt 2:16-23, Eze 11:17-19, 1Cor 2:2)
Grievous things are taking place in the land of Israel. King Herod, who ruled over Judea by the mercy of the Roman emperor, sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the little children in Bethlehem. Matt 2:16,
Mt 2:16 ¶
Mt 2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
Mt 2:18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Mt 2:21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
Look carefully at verse 20 where we read, “For they are dead which sought the young child’s life”. This tells us that Herod was not the only one who wanted the lord Jesus dead. There were others, although the Bible does not disclose who they are. But from this information God is letting us know the deplorable state of the hearts of the people in Jerusalem. God is letting us know that not the Jews but the Gentiles seek for Jesus. And then we read in verses 20 and 21 about “The Land of Israel”. What is the land of Israel? Let us look carefully at verses 21 and 22. First Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus came into the land of Israel. Then they discovered that Archelaus reigned in Judaea, and then they decided not to go into Judaea. And thus, they were not yet in the country of Judaea. Could Judaea be the land of Israel? No! That would be an inconsistent conclusion. The land of Israel is the land where Israel rules, or where Christ rules. Before the cross this would be the land of Palestine where most of the descendants of Jacob lived. But after the cross the rules are changed. After the cross the land of Israel refers to the land where Christ is King. And where is that land? Christ rules in the church throughout the world. There is “The New Land of Israel”, because Christ rules in the hearts of those whom He saved and who are sitting in the church. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ezekiel, Eze 11:17 (2X). We can take this concept of the new land of Israel to the OT where now many passages are coming to life, not in the historical sense, but in the spiritual sense. For example, in Eze 11 God is comforting the people who have been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and have been brought to Babylon. And God says to them in Eze 11:17-19,
What do we see here? God promised to gather His elect out of all the nations that have been scattered over all the world, and God will bring them into the church, the “Land of Israel”, where they can be fed. And His elect shall remove out of that land all detestable things. And God shall take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh. This language reminds us of the language of the New Covenant, which is the Covenant of Grace. And indeed this is so. When we read in the OT about the “Land of Israel”, we must ask if the context demands that we must attach a spiritual meaning to these verses. Now, it is equally important that we keep in mind that the church does not remain on this earth. The church militant, which is on this earth, will transition into the church triumphant, which is in heaven, or in the NH&NE. And thus when we read about the “Land of Israel” we must ask if this refers to the church on this earth or if this refers to the New Jerusalem in the new creation, which Christ is going to lead us into after the final Judgment. And what a glorious event that will be! All the wicked and all things defiled by sin shall have been removed out of sight and all things remaining will be all-together righteous in the sight of God. Are we eager to enter into that new land of Israel? Do we look forward to that event when we shall be complete in glory? Or perhaps I should ask, “Are you ready to meet God?” Are we sure of our condition before an infinitely righteous God? Are we sure that we do not lean on anything that we have done, but that we completely lean on what Christ has done for us on the cross? This is what we want to remember most of all, 1Cor 2:2,
1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
This we must remember, not simply as a fact, but with understanding, for after the cross the rules have changed. AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.