Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
(Matthew 2:16-18 ESV)
Over the past few days we’ve read the story of Jesus’ birth and the subsequent visit by the wise men from the east. We saw how the wise men reacted to Jesus appropriately – they worshipped Him with their visit, their humbleness, and their gifts. We also saw how the religious leaders’ attitude toward Jesus was apathetic – they knew about Jesus but that knowledge had no effect on them. Today we read about Herod’s reaction.
First, though, notice that Herod’s actions were fully known to God long before they happened. Jeremiah recorded this prophecy over 700 years before in Jeremiah 31:15. The goal of Matthew’s gospel account is to demonstrate that Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament writers and is, therefore, God and our Savior, and here is another one. By the way, this is another prophecy fulfilled in the life of Jesus that He clearly could not have manipulated into happening, as critics will attempt to claim.
Herod considered Jesus to be a threat. This is very interesting because history tells us that Herod was firmly ensconced in his position over Judea at this point. Not to mention that Jesus was still a toddler and hardly a threat to anyone. Yet Herod attempts to kill Him.
Sadly, this is the way many people react to Jesus today. They mistakenly think He is a threat, which He is not. So they attempt to remove Him from not only their lives but from society in general.
Organizations such as the ACLU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, various LGBT organizations, frequently instigate the removal of Jesus from culture. But, like Herod, they are motivated only by their own pride and misunderstanding.
When these people (and others) hear the name “Jesus” they hear condemnation and judgment. But that is a lie from Satan. Jesus is not a threat. He is our help. He did not come to condemn anyone. Out of love He came to save all people from the penalty of their sins and grant them eternal life in heaven [John 3:17, Romans 6:23, 1 Timothy 2:4 et. al].
The definition of “hell” is the complete absence of God. Hell will be eternally tortuous not because God will inflict pain on people but because God will not be there. Only human beings and angels who still have their sin nature will be there. Hence, nothing good can happen in hell as the only source of anything good is God Himself [James 1:17].
Therefore, we can conclude that when we purge God from culture here on earth we are removing good from our lives. The only possible result of removing Jesus, who was God, from our lives is to make life worse, not better. Certainly we can look back upon the past several decades and see that this is true.
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