Despite Egypt’s antagonism toward Israel (Ex. 1:1–2:10), God’s rescue of His people from captivity and His destruction of the pharaoh’s army (chap. 14) was never intended to be His last word regarding the Egyptian people. The Lord actually saved the Israelites in order to make them a light to the nations (Isa. 49:1–6), a witness to the glory and holiness of God as a nation of priests and servants (Ex. 19:1–6). This call was given so that people of every ethnicity would trust in Yahweh, even people from Egypt (Pss. 68:29; 82:8: Isa. 19:16–25).
Nothing less than the very salvation of the whole world was the purpose for Israel’s call. Called out of Egypt, Israel was to be the agent of Egypt’s redemption. Yet as is well known, the nation of Israel as a whole did not fulfill its call. True, the Spirit used the faith of individual Israelites like Naomi and the two spies sent to Jericho to call individual Gentiles like Ruth and Rahab to faith (Josh. 2; Ruth 1). Nevertheless, the people as a whole failed in their vocation and went after the pagan gods worshiped in the nations around them (Jer. 16:14–21).
God could have abandoned His plan to make Israel, the people He called out of Egypt, a light to the nations due to its failure to bear witness to the Gentiles. Yet that is not what He did, as revealed in today’s passage. Matthew 2:13–15 describes Jesus’ descent into Egypt and return to Galilee as a fulfillment of a prophecy first given in Hosea 11:1. In its original context, this prophecy in Hosea is about the Lord’s initial call of Israel (His son) out of Egypt during the exodus to be His light to the world. Since Israel failed to be this light, God sent His Son to succeed where His people failed. He would be the new Israel who would obey His Father’s will without hesitation and, as the light of the world (John 8:12), bring men and women from every background into saving fellowship with the one, true God. Christ Jesus, the true Israel, would incorporate into His body men and women to share His vocation as the light of the world to draw the nations to Himself (Matt. 5:14).
The Lord redeemed the Israelites from Egypt to save Egypt and, indeed, the entire world. When they failed, He sent His only Son, the faithful one, and brought Him out of Egypt to redeem Egypt, Assyria, and the world (Isa. 19:16–24; John 3:16).