Matthew 2:16-18 (NIV)
When Herod realized 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.”
It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of this event. Young, innocent children being ruthlessly slaughtered by a crazed king bringing all of his resources to bear in trying to protect his throne and his dynasty from God and His agenda.
It is a horrific scene, one that can be easily imagined. As we read the words spoken through Jeremiah, it is almost possible to hear the anguished screams of bereaved mothers, caught up in and crushed by events that were beyond their understanding.
But if we peer through the horror of that scene, we can see another scene being played out in the background.
Herod’s scheme utterly failed. He didn’t succeed in killing the Messiah, who had slipped out of his grasp and was well on the way to Egypt before his assassins reached Bethlehem. His failure wasn’t due to a lack of resources or power; it was because he had set himself against God and His plans. And God’s plans will always win out.
This scene is a real-life example of the truth brought out in Psalm 2:1-6 (NIV):
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains,” they say,
“and throw off their fetters.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
At many points in Jesus’ life and ministry people tried to stop Him, or kill Him, or move Him out of their way. Bu in every case they failed miserably, because by resisting Jesus, they were resisting God; by plotting against Jesus, they were plotting against God. And people who plot against God are doomed to failure and ultimate destruction.
Even today, as always over the last 2000 years, there are those who try to stop God’s agenda of bringing salvation to the ends of the earth. The enemy has victories from time to time, succeeding in imprisoning or even killing those engaged in the work. But they have never been able to put out the light of the gospel. When it is squashed in one place, it merely rises even stronger someplace else.
The best efforts of the enemy to stop the gospel have always been futile, and always will be, because God’s agenda will be accomplished. Those who fall fighting on the side of the gospel in the battle for the souls of men will ultimately be fine. Their home will be with the Lord forever, and their victory over the enemy will be complete as He wipes away every tear of suffering and pain.
The picture painted by Jeremiah and Matthew is accurate and heart-wrenching. But the rest of the story, the last word is found in Psalm 2, and in the first few words of Matthew 2:19 (NIV): After Herod died…
Father, it is very easy to get caught up in the turmoil of our times, and to forget who You are, and what You are doing. It is easy to count our defeats and to lose sight of the ultimate victory You have promised in Your word – a victory not for us personally, but for Your agenda, Your cause with which we have aligned ourselves. Help me to live ever faithful to Your calling on my life, so that, even if I die, I will live forever in Your presence, and see Your final victory. Amen.