When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 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.”
Three times in this chapter a situation arises that shakes life up. Whether it was King Herod being shaken by another King born, Joseph being shaken when warned that his family was threatened and had to flee, or even the entire nation being shaken at the massacre of children by a wicked king life has a way of shaking us up. However each of these examples are followed by the quotation of an Old Testament prophesy from hundreds of years before. What does that mean? The shaky moments of life, the uncertain moments of life are not uncertain to God. He knew already and somehow it is part of His plan, even when it is hard to see.
These three examples are hard to use when discussing the sovereignty of God. A wicked kings jealously and insecurity? Having to leave home for a foreign nation because of death threats? Children being massacred? Not quite the topics we want to lead with when discussing the sovereignty of God.
However we must. Why? Because it is true. It is revealed. It gives us insight. All three of these examples are times in life in which it seemed like God wasn’t there. A sideways leader… where is God? A death threat… where is God? Children dying… where is God? However we find in this passage that God is right there. Each of these situations not only known by God but orchestrated by Him from the beginning and revealed to His people hundreds of years before. So how can we be ok with this?
A few things…
-I don’t have to be ok with it for it to be true. God’s sovereign plan makes us uneasy. Why? Because we would do it differently. We would choose another way. Not because we are better or more insightful, but exactly the opposite. Because we are finite and only see the temporary. God isn’t in heaven waiting for me to be ok with His sovereignty. His sovereignty is a fact. The only person hindered by me wrestling with this is me, not him.
-Shaky situations aren’t shaky to God. A man threatening His son on earth and a massacre of children in an attempt to kill His son didn’t scare God. He knew it would happen. He planned it. Each step along the way pointing people towards the most important person in history. Setting the stage for the one who the whole universe was created by. When I find myself in a shaky situation, I can hold on to God. He knows, He plans, He will give me peace. My shaky situation is safe in His sovereign plan.
-Pain and loss don’t mean bad. The stress of Herod, the stress on Mary and Joseph and their family, and the pain and loss of the parents of the children of Israel seemed bad. We would all do everything we could to escape these situations. Stress, threats and the loss of loved ones are all things to avoid or try to escape. However what I find this morning is that each of these “bad” things were simply steps to the “best” thing that has ever happened for mankind. These “bad” things led to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is my living hope. I can’t move too quickly to call stress, pain or loss bad. I can’t spend life trying to escape things that ultimately are leading to what God wants most in my life and the life of those around me. I must learn to trust Him more than the voice that tells me to avoid problems and pain. Trust.
Here you go again God. Timely word. Life giving. Gospel clarifying. You are sovereign. This is sobering and comforting.