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God and tragedy

Cross thoughts: Christian ideas seen in Sudanese every day life.

The Wise Men visited Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus some time up to eighteen months from his birth (Matthew 2:1-­‐2). After travelling from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, I notice the Wise Men worshipped Jesus in “the house”, not in the stable (2:11).

God led them not to return to King Herod, saying “go home by a different route”. What happened next was (and is) a terrible tragedy.

God knew the King would use all his powers to kill the baby Jesus. He warned Joseph and Mary to flee into Egypt until he himself would tell them it was safe to move home (Matthew 2:13, 19-­‐20). So far so good.

In verse8 Herod said he wanted to worship Jesus, but his true desire is betrayed by his viciously hot temper.

Read what verse 16 says: “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 2 years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi”.

Tens of boys were mercilessly slain. History says perhaps up to 50-­100 at most. Bethlehem was only a small village. But the fact these were innocent babies shows the vileness in the heart of a man who was jealous for his own throne. Sadly the killing of children still happens in Sudan today.

God knew this would happen to Jesus! Two Bible prophecies are quoted in this passage, Hosea 11:1 and Jeremiah 31:15. God knew ahead that he would call Jesus’ family out from Egypt, and he knew beforehand there would be uncontrollable mourning and weeping from mothers who lost their young children.

In any tragedy remember:

(1) God knows all about it, beforehand, during and afterwards.

(2) God will use it to bring about a purpose far greater than we can ever imagine, for everyone involved.

Those boys died so that the Saviour Jesus could live – and later Jesus would die for the entire human race! God’s mercy saved those boys from the many hardships of a growing life and took them straight into his own heavenly presence. The parents’ grief could be tempered when they realised they would meet again joyfully one day.

By the way, Herod died in 4BC which tells us that the date for Jesus’ birth must have been some 2 years before that, at 6 or 7BC. Kepler’s astronomical calculations were not made until many centuries later.

December 2012.


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