HOW FATHERS HELP ROLL BACK THE CURSE by Russell Moore for Core Christianity
Joseph Reflects the Image of God
Joseph’s fatherhood is significant for us precisely because of the way the gospel anchors it to the fatherhood of God himself. Joseph marries the virgin girl, taking the responsibility for the baby on himself. Moreover, he protects the woman and her child by rescuing them from Herod’s sword, exiling them in Egypt until the dictator’s rampage was ended by death. Interestingly, Matthew tells us, “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (Matt. 2:15). Now, at first glance this seems to be an embarrassing error on the part of the apostle. After all, the Scripture passage he references—from Hosea 11:1—isn’t about something in the future but about something in the past. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son,” God declares in the past tense, speaking of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Isn’t Matthew misinterpreting the plain reading of the Bible? No.
Israel, remember, is being called out to bring forth the blessing to the nations, the Christ of God. Israel is the “son” of God precisely because of her relationship to the Christ who is to come. God, in the exodus, is preparing his people for a final exodus to come in Christ. Jesus sums up in his life the history of Israel and the history of the world, living out this history in obedient trust of his Father. He then fulfills the flight out of Egypt in the same way he fulfills the march into the Promised Land: the promises find their yes and their amen in him, the shadows find their substance in him. It’s not that Jesus is the copy of Israel coming out of Egypt, but that Israel coming out of Egypt was the copy—in advance—of Jesus.1
Israel wound up in Egypt the first time through violence. The brothers of Israel sought to kill a young dreamer named Joseph. God, though, meant it for good, using the sojourn in Egypt to protect the nation from famine (Gen. 50:20). The Joseph of old told his brothers, “I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen. 50:21). Joseph of Nazareth pictures his namesake in providing for and protecting Jesus in Egypt. But he also pictures God, the One who brought the people in and out of Egypt, who shields them from the dictator’s murderous conspiracies.