Monday, July 16, 2007

Matthew 2:16-18. Responses to Christ-Murder

I have heard that people who are convicted of abusing children are often treated badly by other prisoners when they are incarcerated. I think it is interesting that even people that would represent to most of us the worst of society are outraged by the idea of someone abusing children. Certainly it is wrong for them to basically take revenge on these people. However, I suspect most people understand how those prisoners feel. Normal people find the abuse of children repugnant and the murder of a child is one of the most horrible acts a person can commit. In these verses, we read about one of the most horrible crimes recorded in the Bible and we see how even in this wicked act that God was at work.

Verse 16 records that Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, became exceedingly angry. The word translated deceived is the Greek word empaizo which is used only in the gospels and is usually translated as mocked. The word can also mean deceived as is translated here. I suppose it carries with it the idea of making light of something or making a fool out of someone. In any case, Herod felt he had been disrespected because the wise men did not return as he expected. We know of his evil plan from what we have read and studied so far in this chapter. He had his target in his sights. He knew where and when the Messiah was to be born. However, he wanted to make sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that he exterminated his target so he sent the wise men to find exactly where the Christ child was. He was angry because without that information, he might not have a chance to murder the One he saw as a rival to the throne.

When he saw that his plan was in danger of being thwarted, he came up with a Plan B. He murdered innocent children in an attempt to make sure that he killed his target. He didn’t have to take a vote or wait on confirmation from his superiors. He was a power mad despot in total control of this region and had the power of life and death over the population. He sent his soldiers out with specific instructions. They were to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and all its districts, from two years old and under. He knew the Child was born in Bethlehem, but expanded his “target” with a larger bull’s-eye even though he knew most of the victims were innocent. He also knew precisely when the star had appeared to signal His birth but expanded his “target” yet again to include babies who had never done him harm and were born well after the star's appearance. Scripture does not record how many children died. However, even 1 death would have been a tragedy. The grief this jealous tyrant caused with this merciless slaughter is unimaginable.

However, Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. God was working His eternal purposes out even in the midst of this tragedy. Scripture records that the prophet Jeremiah recorded a prophecy that spoke of Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were no more. Rachel was the wife of Jacob and was pictured by Jeremiah as weeping when the tribe of Judah was led captive by the Babylonians. Matthew reveals under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Jeremiah was also prophesying this terrible tragedy. Therefore, while we know that God does not cause sin or evil, the sin and evil in the world occur within the scope of His sovereign will.

Someone might ask the question “How can God allow evil like this to happen?” I, for one, would agree that such evil is beyond comprehension. However, we know that God is just, fair, loving, kind, compassionate, and always works for our good as Christians. He settled the question of whether He loves us or not once and for all on Calvary’s cross when He sent His own Son to be crucified for our sin. Does this mean the parents who lost their children on that terrible day that was prophesied by Jeremiah had no reason to grieve? Certainly not. However, it does mean that in the midst of tragedy that we can trust Him. When you and I face the sorrows and pain that this life can bring, we can know that our God is in control. Circumstances don’t have to shake our faith in God. We know that He loves us. Because of that, we can trust Him, no matter what.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Jessica S. said...

Hi Joe,

Thanks for visiting my blog. I like your blog as well. Keep up the nice work! Thanks for this post...it's a good reminder of how God causes all things to work together for the good of His people. May the Lord continue to bless you.