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Wickedness Against Jesus and His People

Matthew 2:16-18
When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 'A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.' (NIVUK)

The joy of Christ's birth, and the relief of His escape from Herod's clutches, seems eclipsed by this dreadful narrative of infanticide. The violent and politically insecure king knew that the true King of the Jews was on his territory and was a threat to his authority and future (Herod was not descended from the royal line of David, but the royal baby was born in David’s city of Bethlehem). So Herod decided to kill all the male children in that town who were born from the first time the star appeared to the wise men. The tortured anguish of the bereaved mothers filled Bethlehem. It was unspeakably terrible.

And yet God knew that it would happen. Jeremiah had prophesied it. But that raises the question, "If God knew it would happen, why did He not prevent it?" He certainly does know everything before it happens. He knows how evil the world is and how wickedly people treat each other: but He does not force people to be righteous against their will. One day - when Jesus returns - He will bring everything under His control (Philippians 2:21, Hebrews 2:8). Until then, this wicked world and our own souls are uncovered from time to time, exposing the wickedness for which Jesus Christ chose to be crucified, and giving wise people the desire to be saved.

Since sin entered the world it has spread everywhere like a lethal virus; evil and death are universal. Herod’s wickedness continues to be matched by others who commit war crimes or persecute fellow human beings for their faith. And yet, God who knows everything that will happen has given to us a Saviour who is able to sustain us in the worst of circumstances, and comfort us in the midst of violence and hatred. But today's sad story reminds us how evil is disproportionately focussed on Jesus and His people. One day, the Lord will set the record straight, but until then, we join Him in unjust suffering (John 15:18-20). So whenever your grief is real, remember that the Lord knows: He will work out His plan through it, and will deal with your oppressors in His own way (Romans 12:19-21).

All-knowing God. Thank You for working out Your plans despite the wickedness of human beings who oppose You. I am sorry when I forget how much You care for the people who You have made, and even blame You for being unfair. Please help me to live with courage, despite the evil which attacks me, knowing that You will repay the wicked and sustain all those who are trusting in Jesus Christ. Please help my brothers and sisters who are suffering under persecution, to stay true to Jesus; because He is eternally true to them. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams