Israel, God’s First Born Son?

Q. Thanks so much for your wonderful teaching; I have learned much from you over the years. During a Bible study, we were directed to Exodus 4:22-23, where Moses was told to tell Pharaoh “thus says the LORD, Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I said to you, Let My son go that he may serve Me…” Why does God call Israel “My son, My firstborn” in this passage? I know that Israel is God’s wife, but this threw me off.

A. In the symbolic sense Israel was God’s first born, being the only nation He has chosen to be His own. In Exodus 4:22-23 God was equating His relationship with Israel to Pharaoh’s relationship with his son. He told Moses to make this connection so Pharaoh could see how important Israel was to Him and to tie Pharaoh’s later refusal to let Israel go to the punishment God was going to inflict on him for this, he death of all the firstborn of Egypt including Pharaoh’s firstborn son.

Later, in Matthew 2:14-15, this connection was personified in Jesus. Matthew said the holy family’s flight to Egypt and subsequent return was the fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy; “out of Egypt I called my son.” But when you read all of Hosea 11:1, where the prophecy came from, you can see Hosea was referring to Israel;

“When Israel was a child I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”

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