As we continue in Matthew we remember that this book was written with special emphasis to the Hebrew people. Last week we spoke about the emotions of Joseph as his bride was found pregnant, and we thought about what he might be feeling and going through. An angel visits him in a dream and tells him not to worry, and sums up why in Matthew 1:21. We read: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
This statement is dripping with Hebrew history, as the name of Jesus and Joshua mean the same thing. They both mean “Salvation.” Without the barriers of language one could read this as “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Salvation, for he will save his people from their sins.” We must remember that we are dealing with several languages in which Biblical texts were written. The Book of Joshua was written in Hebrew, this statement was documented in Greek and Aramaic was a common language as well. Just a bit of history for you if any question arises in your mind about the words “Jesus” and “Joshua” looking different in English.
Within the lens of Hebrew history we see the end of Joshua’s life and his statements to the Hebrew people about choosing the right god to be over your life. He encourages them to serve The LORD as their God. Secondly, and most important, we see Joshua telling the people that they are not able to serve The LORD, because they aren’t good enough. I think when Joseph heard this unborn child’s name being given by the angel these things are ringing in his ears. This is huge considering the Nation of Israel did fall from serving The LORD and was carried off into captivity a while after Joshua spoke these words so many years before this angel spoke to Joseph. I wonder if he was asking himself: “Will this unborn child bring a salvation greater than Joshua?” There is probably good reason we don’t see Joseph questioning anything the angel is speaking to him. He might be in shock. I know I would be. As if this was not enough to show Jesus’ birth was framed within the Hebrew text, the writer adds a quote from Isaiah 7:14. We read the quotation in Matthew 1:22-23: “All this took place to fulfill what the lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means God with us.)’ ”
I would like us all to consider what these verses mean in application to our lives. Old Testament Joshua led a great conquest in warfare against evil, and Jesus completed a great conquest against evil. He completed the task in a way that Joshua was never fully capable of completing. Joshua could not change the hearts of men, he could only encourage and lead men towards The LORD. Jesus on the other hand completed the task of being able to change the hearts of men Himself. He allowed for men to fill their hearts with His presence to the point where the evil is forced out for lack of space. He will engage in warfare that is far past the abilities of mortal man. He took on the curse of the Law of Moses that we all have decided to violate and have found ourselves at fault. He is the ultimate warrior in defeating evil. He is the liberator of His people. He is the vindicator of the victims. He is the unconquerable force that judges the hearts of men. This is the beauty of this text. He is our salvation from the wrath of an Almighty God. This is the splendor of Jesus fulfilling the passage in Isaiah we mentioned earlier. Our God is with us in a way that is different from before. He is with us in a way that is all-encompassing. He is with us in a way that can be consuming if we accept His will for our lives and allow Him to transform our most inner being with His Word. It is my prayer that everyone reading this has made this choice.
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Matthew 1:21 – “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”