Today we began reading Matthew’s Gospel. It is understood it was written primarily for the Jews as it quotes the Old Testament prophecies quite a lot, including some that we would not have readily identified as relating to Jesus. This is a lesson for us when trying understand prophecies about events that relate to the time Jesus returns.

God arranged it so that the birth of His Son, the Messiah they were expecting, was obscured from the self-centred religious leaders. One reason these leaders rejected Jesus was, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from Bethlehem …” (John 7:41,42).

Matthew 2 ends by telling us that when his parents returned from Egypt they “went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’”. What prophets said this?

We need to put the Scriptures together to get the full picture of the ancestors of Mary and Joseph. In 2 Samuel we read how David was born in Bethlehem. Joseph, a carpenter, evidently lived and worked there for about two years before they fled, at the command of the Lord to Egypt. The wise men found the one born to be “king of the kings” in “the house” (Matthew 2:11) in Bethlehem.

They then went and lived in Egypt until after the death of Herod (verse 20) and then came to Nazareth again to re-establish life there (Luke 2:39). No doubt Joseph took his tools with him to support them with carpentry work in their stays in Bethlehem and Egypt. Jesus would have lived in Nazareth for something like 25 years before he astonished the nation when he began his ministry. The record of “the first of his signs” (John 2:11) at Cana shows that his mother had some degree of awareness of his powers.

As a hymn says, ‘God works in a mysterious way his wonders to perform’ – but those who read God’s word diligently can unravel many of those mysteries: the major mystery challenging us now is the full nature of the events that are to occur at the return of Christ. We believe they will only be fully understood as they start to happen. Let us diligently read, think deeply – and watch.