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Read Matthew 2:7-8; 13-16.
... he 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.
Matthew 2:16B

Simeon had warned Mary that Jesus would be a sign spoken
against. Here is the first proof. King Herod is so fearful of this new
King, and so enraged when the wise men do not report back His
location, that he orders the deaths of all male children two years
old and under. He is confident the new King will be caught up and
swept away in the process. Of course, God warned Joseph in a
dream, and Joseph fled in the middle of the night with Mary and
Jesus to find safety in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).

It is hard to read this passage without wondering why God would
permit King Herod to have heard the prophecy of Micah, especially
knowing what Herod would do. But in grace and mercy God was
reaching out with the saving Gospel to Herod just as He was
reaching out to the wise men. It is not God's fault. Rather, it is
Herod's fault alone that he chose to abuse his God-given authority
and murder those innocent boys in and around Bethlehem.

Of course, Herod failed to kill the Christ child, and ended up killing
those innocent boys instead. As his soldiers completed their
bloody mission in Bethlehem and its vicinity, Jesus was safely on
His way to Egypt. Jesus survived Herod's murderous attempt
because He did not come into this world to die as a baby. Nor did
He come to become a political ruler or king over the region of Israel.
He came to offer His life as a God-pleasing sacrifice to save the
world from its sin.

God is merciful to you and me too. If you have read each of these
devotions through the Advent and Christmas seasons, then you
have heard the marvelous story of God's love and salvation offered
to you freely through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. God calls
you to faith, trust, and eternal life through His Word. Yet He won't
force you to believe anymore than He forced Herod.

Too often, like Herod, we set our minds on our earthly kingdom and
reject the peace God offers us. But thankfully God continues to
stretch out His hand as He calls us, His own sons and daughters,
to be citizens of His Kingdom. He gives us church homes in which
He gathers us to hear His Word and celebrate the Sacraments. Both
of these He has provided to create and nurture faith within us
throughout our lives. And in the end, He will gather us into His eternal

God grant that we may respond to the news as the wise men did,
rejoicing to find our Savior and offer Him our praise and thanksgiving


 Heavenly Father, You have been so merciful to all of us. Cleanse
me from my sins for Jesus' sake, and make me strong to walk before
You and share my Savior's Name with all people. In Jesus' Name.

(Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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