Fleeing To Egypt

We might never have known that a verse of scripture from the Book of Numbers was a prophecy that concerned the coming Messiah, unless the Lord revealed it to us in Matthew’s gospel. This is an important fact of Bible prophecy: We often do not know that a particular verse of scripture was written prophetically until after the event has taken place. I am sure that Matthew was not aware that Numbers 24:8 or Hosea 11:1 were speaking of the Messiah, until he had learned that the angel had warned Joseph to take Jesus and flee to Egypt not long after His birth. Matthew remembered the words from Hosea 11:1 and Numbers 24:8, as the Holy Spirit brought them to his remembrance. He recorded the fulfillment of this prophecy of the Messiah for us in his gospel.

This is why we should continually read the Bible over and over and become familiar with all of the verses of Scripture. The Holy Spirit can only bring to our remembrance the words of God which we have already read and studied. There have been several occasions when I was speaking to a person about Jesus, or teaching the word of God before a group of people, and the Holy Spirit would remind me of a particular verse of Scripture. Often, it is not a verse that I had really studied extensively. Because I had placed this verse in my mind by reading the word of God, the Holy Spirit was able to bring these verses to my remembrance and allow me to use them in teaching the Bible to someone else.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The Messiah will come out of Egypt.

Numbers 24:8 “God brings him out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox; He shall consume the nations, his enemies; He shall break their bones And pierce them with his arrows.”

In Matthew Chapter 2:13-15, the angel of the Lord warns Joseph that Herod will seek to kill Jesus at His birth. Matthew writes that Joseph and Mary departed for Egypt, and this action was in fulfillment of this prophecy found in Numbers 24:8.

Matthew 2:13-15 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

The Book of Numbers, Chapter 24, gives us the account of Balaam—who is acting in the capacity of a prophet of God by making a prophetic prediction about the tribe of Judah, from where the Messiah will one day come. Balaam states that God will bring him out of Egypt.

It has always amazed me that Balaam could act in the capacity of a prophet of God while doing so with evil intentions towards God’s people and his own selfish ambition and greed. The information that he passed along to the Midianites eventually led to the downfall of Israel. Later in the New Testament, Balaam is listed among those who are described as false prophets and are condemned for their actions by God.

2 Peter 2:15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness…

There are many of the prophecies which are given in this book, that when read from the Old Testament, at first, seem vague. That is, until; we discover a reference in the New Testament which records the fulfillment of these predictions.

Numbers 24:8 “God brings him out of Egypt…”

Matthew 2:13-15 “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt…”

An important principle to consider in prophetic interpretation:

Becoming a diligent student of Bible prophecy requires that we read a verse of Scripture from the Old Testament, with the assumption that it is prophetic. The entire purpose of the scriptures is to point us to the Messiah. Therefore, all of the stories, people and events should be carefully scrutinized for their possible application to the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ.

John 5:39 (Jesus speaking) You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

Jesus is making the assertion that the entire Bible is about Him. Therefore, it is always possible that a particular verse which does not appear, at first, to be predictive; may indeed, have a prophetic application. No one would have believed that Joel Chapter 2 was applicable to the birth of the church in Acts Chapter 2, unless Peter revealed this to us in Acts chapter 2.

Although this verse from Numbers 24:8 does not—at first glance, appear to be prophetic, when we take the time to study this verse and compare it with other verses of similar context, we see that these scriptures are describing the future Messiah.

If we were going to look for a verse to match Matthew’s prophetic declaration that the Messiah will come out of Egypt, we would first be led to Hosea 11:1 (See the next section of this chapter).

These verses from Matthew and Hosea are a perfect match:

Matthew 2:15 “…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.”

Notice that Hosea refers to Israel as a child who will be called out of Egypt. If we examine Balaam’s prophecy of Israel, in Numbers Chapter 24:8, he uses similar language in describing the many blessings that God will give Israel through the Messiah. Balaam utilizes the same phrase in verse 24:8 in speaking of Israel as he is called out of Egypt, that Hosea also uses in his description of Israel in chapter 11, verse 1.

Numbers 24:8 “God brings him out of Egypt…”

Examine the entire context of Numbers Chapter 24:

Numbers 24:8-9 God brings him out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox; He shall consume the nations, his enemies; He shall break their bones And pierce them with his arrows. 9 He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him?

Clearly, Balaam’s prophecy is speaking of the Messiah who will consume the nations; One who is also called the Lion. These are both descriptions of Jesus which are revealed in the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 19:15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Revelation 5:5 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that a verse of Scripture that many scholars might define as non-prophetic or non-Messianic can certainly be true on both accounts.

In all of the scholarly commentaries that I read concerning Numbers 24:8, not one found an application of this verse to the declaration of Matthew 2:15. When all of the evidence is examined, it is clear that both Hosea and Balaam are speaking of Israel—who will come out of Egypt. Both prophets are using the example of Israel as they speak of the future Messiah.

This same type of careful scrutiny was necessary in determining several Messianic verses that are included in these Old Testament Prophecies. It took a great amount of work to determine whether a particular verse should be included in this book. Instead of trying to look for verses to include, I took the opposite approach, by excluding a verse until it could be proven as a prophetic-Messianic verse that can be validated by a New Testament fulfillment.

In your own study of Bible prophecy, you will notice that great scholars often disagree over a particular verse. This is not only normal; it is healthy for the validation of the prophetic word.

A person might read an Old Testament verse and think: “This is not a prophecy.” I have often reached this same conclusion myself. Only after I was able to discover a New Testament fulfillment, did any verse from the Old Testament become credible and a part of this book. This is the method used in good exegetical deduction.

This prophecy from the Book of Numbers is in parallel with several other prophecies that describe this event, found in Matthew’s gospel. From His birth, Jesus was under the threat of death.

Threatened With Death at Birth

Jeremiah 31:15 Thus says the LORD: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.”

Jeremiah’s prophecy deals with a conspiracy that satan had orchestrated against God’s desire to bring His Son into the world. Because the Lord knows all things, He was aware of the plans of satan; which he would seek to carry out at the time Jesus would be born. The prophet Micah records the fact that the Son of God would be born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

Jeremiah’s prophecy describes the Messiah, born in Bethlehem, with an attempt made on his life, orchestrated by satan, while He is still young and defenseless. This prophecy speaks of Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children.

Jeremiah and Micah both wrote these prophecies of the Messiah about six hundred years before Jesus was born. Their predictions contain two of the most extraordinary prophecies found in the Bible: In their predictions, the Lord informed us of His plans to bring His Son into the world, despite a satanic agenda that worked through the mind and heart of Herod who sought the death of the Son of God.

We learn that God had a plan to spare His Son from death and bring Him to safety before the soldiers arrived. Mary and Joseph would take Jesus to Egypt until the death of Herod.

Matthew 2:12-15 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

In completing His warning to Mary and Joseph that they should depart for their own country another way…, God brought to fulfillment this 38th Old Testament Prophecy: the Messiah will come out of Egypt, as predicted in the Book of Numbers 24:8 and Hosea 11:1.

Numbers 24:8 “God brings him out of Egypt…”

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The prophet Hosea writes a parallel prophecy to Numbers 24:8, describing the Messiah coming out of Egypt. One prediction describing this incredible event would be sufficient; two is extreme confirmation.

The Messiah shall be called out of Egypt.

Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 2:12-15 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Is the Lord actively involved in every detail of our lives? Does He control each event and place us in the precise locations that we need to be, in order to accomplish His will? This appears to be the specific purpose for this prophecy: to demonstrate the Lord’s great power over all the affairs of human beings.

Matthew apparently understood that when the angel told Joseph and Mary to take Jesus to Egypt, that it was for the express purpose of fulfilling prophecy.

By these events, the Lord records His great power over every king, government, and tiny detail of our lives. Nothing happens during the course of human history apart from the sovereign will of God. He permits individuals to make their own decisions and bear the consequences of those actions, while He equally controls the events of history to fulfill every word that He has spoken.

These occurrences of prophecy are recorded for our learning—that we might understand that God has told us these things to validate His word. He has written of all the details that will concern the life of His Son—whom He will send to earth to complete our salvation. It is by our awareness of these many prophecies that we can comprehend His plan for our lives.

There is no other document of antiquity that has so accurately predicted all of the major events of mankind, in greater clarity, than the Bible. Many people have tried to predict future events. At their best, they have achieved no more than a fifty percent success rate. The Bible, on the other hand; has a one hundred percent record of precision and accuracy in all of the predictions that it has made.

Joshua 23:14 … And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.

Isaiah 41:4 Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? “I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He.”

This book details hundreds of these prophecies and demonstrates how each prediction has been fulfilled by God—precisely as He described them to us in the Bible. The Lord does not predict the future; He simply reports to us what He has seen. The Lord knows the details of every second of mankind’s existence—in advance of every event of history that has taken place. The reason that God has given us a revelation of His knowledge in all these events—before they took place, is so that we might understand who He is and trust what He has said. His ability to tell us what is going to happen in the future is our validation of His claim to be God—the only sovereign King of the universe.