Daily Devotions


Day 16

A Symbolic Application

Text: Matthew 2:1-23

The text that Matthew quoted from the book of Hosea was not technically a reference to the Messiah! The context of Hosea 11 from which the phrase, “Out of Egypt I called My son” was one in which God was reminiscing about Israel as a nation. God recalled how He loved Israel. The full verse from Hosea reads as follows…

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

The full context of Hosea 11 was one of rebuke of Israel. The nation had fallen into deep sin against God. The whole nation had become apostate and had turned to the worship of idols with careless abandon.

Obviously, the rest of the references in Hosea 11 would not apply to Jesus at all! However, Matthew was not incorrect when he borrowed the words of Hosea and then applied them to Jesus. How did Matthew go about doing that?


There are many ways in which Scriptures can be applied:-

1. Direct reference

The easiest and the most obvious way of applying the Scriptures is when the reference is direct and obvious! Little explanation is needed. There was a prophecy concerning the birthplace of the Messiah. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and thus fulfilled the Scripture reference (Cf. Matthew 2:6; Micah 5:2).

2. Symbolic Language reference

Matthew applied the text of Hosea borrowing heavily its language, but not the contextual reference.

The contextual reference was obvious as it refers to erring Israel in Hosea 11.

Nevertheless, there was a striking resemblance between Jesus and Israel being called out from Egypt.

3. Doctrinal reference

Matthew made this difficult application from the Book of Hosea to Jesus for good reasons:

a. He wanted to show identification between the Messiah and Israel.

b. He wanted to show that there was a special relationship between the Father and the Son.

The second and the third aspects are difficult approaches indeed. It would take great skill to attempt this manner of application of the Scriptures.


Let us take a closer look at the concept of Divine Sonship. Let us consider this doctrine from the Book of Psalms.

1. A Royal Decree

The Sonship of the Messiah was made by divine royal decree.

“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’ ”
Psalm 2:7

This decree went further than mere announcement of relationship.

“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
Psalm 2:6

This Son was to be given the highest office. He was destined to be King!

2. God’s Protective Eye

God did not merely make a decree! He lovingly watched over His own Son! He was fully aware of Herod’s wicked intents. But He was not in the least perturbed by the wicked designs of evil people.

“Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His
Psalm 2:1-2

What an apt description of how Herod took counsel against Jesus, the Lord’s Anointed!

However, the Lord was not impressed. We have a soul-uplifting text right here that makes us rejoice that this great God is our Lord.

“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure…”
Psalm 2:4-5

There is a far greater Person than mortal king Herod! This Great One sits in the heavens! And He can well afford to laugh! Would Herod try and kill His Son? His efforts were laughable!

Take time to ponder Matthew’s view of the Divine Sonship described in this phrase, “Out of Egypt I called My Son”. There are rich truths contained therein.