In Matthew 2:15, Matthew is quoting the OT text that was referring to
Jesus (Hosea 11:1). This is a so called messianic prophecy. But if you
read the context of the OT verse, it was speaking of Israel whom God
called, not at all about Jesus. If it is talking about Jesus when you read
it further then it actually says that Jesus was offering to and
worshipping Baal. Can you explain this verse?
I will have to say that this one has bothered me a bit as well.
Personally, I do not think that I would have, on my own, said that Hosea
11:1 is a prophecy of the Messiah. However, Matthew 2:15, the inspired
word of God, says that Hosea 11:1 is in fact a prophecy of Jesus. I prefer
to give the benefit of the doubt to the scripture. Let us consider the
verse and its context. First, it is a good idea to go back to Exodus
4:22,23. Here one reads “Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord Says;
Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you “Let my son go, so he may
worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn
son.” In fact, Jacob (later called Israel) was the second son of Isaac,
but God arranged it so that Jacob would receive the blessing of the
first-born son when Essau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew
(Genesis 25:27-34, Hebrews 12:16,17). God worked all this out as a
historical prophetic representation of the spiritual equivalent, which is
his first-born son, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15, “he is the firstborn
over all creation”).
In God’s eyes, when he called his first-born son Israel out of Egypt, it
was a symbolic representation of his later calling his first-born son
Jesus Christ out of Egypt. It is absolutely not luck or coincidence that
God had Joseph take his wife and son Jesus into Egypt. This was part of
God’s plan all along, as evidenced by the historical prophecy in Exodus 4
and the prophecy of Hosea 11:1. All this helps me to understand how, when
God tells us in Hosea 11:1 that he called Israel out of Egypt, he is
referring both to the fact that he called his first-born Israel out of
Egypt and that he would later also call his first-born son Jesus Christ
out of Egypt.
Unfortunately, Israel was unfaithful to God, as Hosea 11:2f relates.
Clearly, this does not refer to Jesus, but to the nation of Israel, which
later became unfaithful in the desert, as is described in great detail in
the book of Exodus.
In summary, although I could certainly understand your confusion when the
footnote to Matthew 2:15 refers to a passage which seems to refer to the
historical Israel and not to Jesus, when one considers the biblical
context to the first-born son, one can see that this is referring both
back to Israel and forward to Jesus and his escape into and later out of
Egypt with his parents.
John Oakes, PhD