Friday, December 18
Read Matthew 2:16-18
When the Magi didn’t return to tell Herod where they had found the new-born King, Herod was furious. He was so filled with anger and rage he ordered all the baby boys, age 2 and under, living in or near Bethlehem to be killed. Since he couldn’t find out which baby was a threat to his kingdom, he ordered all the baby boys to be killed to make sure Jesus; this King of the Jews would be killed.
Since Bethlehem was such a small town at that time, the estimated number of boys killed on that night is between 20 and 60. This may be the reason this particular event is not recorded in the secular history of Israel in that day. The second reason might be that, because Herod suffered severe paranoia, his ruthless killing of innocent people had become commonplace. Caesar Augustus said Herod had killed so many of his own family, “It was better to be Herod’s hog than his son.”
Herod’s paranoia about doing whatever was required to hold on to his power and to suppress any kind of dissent earns him a well-deserved place alongside the names of the great tyrants and dictators of world history, who, by their diabolical decisions prove they have absolutely no respect for the sanctity of human life.
Lord Acton is credited with this quote: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and as we see the political climate we are living in today, it seems we have learned nothing from history. For while we understand why the ungodly leaders of the world slaughter the innocent to protect their positions of power, it is hard to conceive of Christians doing the same thing, and have no conviction, and that includes mothers who choose to end the life of their babies lives while in the womb.
Abortion is the clearest evidence of Satan’s delusion upon our society. He has convinced mothers, doctors, nurses, judges and political leaders that an innocent, human life can be taken without consequence to the mother, the medical profession, or to our nation. Herod’s decision took the life of 20 innocent baby boys. The Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion has taken the life of 58 million babies since 1973. While there may be a rare medical condition that could cause the pregnancy to threaten the life of the mother, the main reason for abortion today is no different from Herod’s day: that baby is a threat to my position in life. Wasn’t that child in Mary’s womb a threat to Mary and Joseph’s plans?
While we know the life of our Savior was spared, and Herod died shortly thereafter, we can only wonder how many doctors, scientists, evangelists, godly leaders and others with special gifts of music, art and other talents have been destroyed before they had a chance to live, and how long it will be before our nation dies.
Before we move on, do you know who Rachel was? Rachel was the wife of Jacob. While she was traveling from Bethel to Bethlehem, she stopped near Raman because the time had come for her to birth her baby. According to Genesis 35:16-20, she delivered a son, but not without great difficulty, and with her dying breath she named him “Ben-Oni”, meaning son of my trouble. Fortunately, Jacob renamed him Benjamin.
So when Herod killed the baby boys, it reminded Matthew of Rachel, who went weeping to her grave at Ramah. Rachel not only represents every mother in Bethlehem, she also represents every mother who has suffered for her children; especially those who have had a miscarriage, lost a newborn or buried their children. She stands for every mother who lies awake at night worrying over her children.
Matthew doesn’t include it, but the prophet Jeremiah told the “Rachels of the world” where to find their comfort. In Jeremiah 31:16-17, he wrote: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded, declares the Lord. They will return from the land of the enemy, so there is hope for your future, declares the Lord. Your children will return to their own land.”
Sorrow and grief do not have the last word in our lives. A mother may refuse to be comforted over the loss of her children, but God will comfort her, nonetheless. Therefore Rachel’s tears were not in vain, and not forever.