Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Herod carries out the infanticide – Bethlehem has no more infant boys and fulfilled prophecy – Matthew 2:16-18


Herod carries out the infanticide – Bethlehem has no more infant boys and fulfilled prophecy – Matthew 2:16-18 – 01/20/2016

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Matthew 2:16 (ESV) 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. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “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 continues his narrative by showing what type of man Herod was and showing what type of “worship” that he had in mind (verse 8 in a previous article) when he spoke to the “wise men” and stated the following…

Matthew 2:8 (ESV) 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”

Be careful of being Herod-like…

I don’t know about you but that is one messed up worship? As we explained in previous blogs Herod was a messed up guy, he was really only ever concerned with protecting his own little pocket of power, building great buildings that really would be his only legacy and getting rid of his rivals and members of his own family when they came close to touching his power, he was a guy that regardless of who you were to him if you endangered or weakened his position then you had to be killed.

Joseph when he was visited by the angel a few verses back and fled to Egypt after he was warned by an Angel to flee to Egypt which fulfilled prophesy as well as preserved the life of the infant Jesus. Herod was in my opinion doing the devils work for him because in Satan’s mind how much easier would it have been to snuff out the one who came to be the second Adam sacrifice and defeat sin once and for all. God knew this and made provision for Jesus to not even be there, Satan is not looking at the full picture though; Jesus was as much God as he was man so Herod would not have been able to put Christ to death until he surrendered.

Herod-like Christianity

As far as I am aware none of us are kings and have that sort of power but we all have our hot buttons as to how we could be “Herod-like” and often times it happens in the realms of ministry or service to Jesus where we get all protective if we have a position in a fellowship, ministry or church. I see this most often in Pastors who do not wish to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” or leaders who would rather not accept the help of gifted members and plod on in a place that God never intended them to be in because it is “their role” but never “their calling”.

In order to avoid this we need to do some self-evaluation and make sure that our motives for what we are doing are for the Lords will as opposed to ours. It is wonderful to serve but you will not reap the full blessings that God has for you by being a square peg in a round hole. It is not simply enough to just “have a job” in the church but you must always be seeking what the Lord wants for you to use your callings in his service.

From the pastoral side church leaders need to evaluate and like a good coach make some switch ups when required. It is not simply enough just to have the “jobs filled” and make no care about who are why they are doing them, know the people that are laboring alongside you, be aware who is burning out and show those who have served well and faithfully that you care and that you have their backs. I have been on the “burnout curve” before and I know what it is like to be genuinely sickened by ministry because it all got too much. Good leadership goes a long way here.

Pastor-like Herods

As for “Pastor-like Herods” well we have them worldwide where they are who they are because of a number of factors, perhaps it is a trust issue, maybe they see the mission that God put them in as “their mission” as opposed to “Jesus mission that they are allowed to play a part in” perhaps they have that personality of the lone wolf, perhaps they just want people they have known for years in the positions they view as vital, all that can be done from the congregant side is address the issue with the Pastor and let him know that there is an issue and continue in prayer for your leader, do not allow yourself to be embittered by the situation and if God moves you elsewhere then leave on good terms and wish each other well.

Getting back to Herod

Three things happened when Herod realized too much time had passed since the wise men left…

• Herod saw he had been tricked by the wise men – The earlier text states that they listened to the king, there is no mention of an agreement but Herod certainly thought there was an understanding that they would return.
• Herod became furious – Herod is widely documented to have a temper and as stated prior he was desperate to keep his small fragmented piece of power in the occupied kingdom, it was ridiculous as he was a puppet king for the occupying forces in Rome.
• He sent and killed all the male children under two years old in Bethlehem – Herod thought he would directly respond to the problem of someone who he thought would displace him from the throne, he would get rid of all the kids around that age who were a specific gender. What a loving and wise king huh? Gives you an idea of the lengths he would go to retain his own circle of influence.

This is a guy who went down in history as murdering his own wife and son, so some peasants children that he would never meet would be no issue of this man. Whilst this account may seem shocking or horrific to those of us who read it, this was small fish in the deeds that Herod did. We see as a consequence of this we see the words of the prophet Jeremiah which first appeared in Jeremiah 31:15 which reads…

Jeremiah 31:15 (ESV) Thus says the LORD: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

I know as a father of a six year old how devastated my wife and I would be if Governor Jerry Brown declared that all six year olds in the State of California had to be killed! That would be the modern equivalent in my life; it is a real situation with real tears and real heartbreak. My heart goes out to the parents in Bethlehem because I have no idea what it would be like to lose a child and I can only imagine the horror.

In the next installment we look at Jesus return to Nazareth and we see again how the life of Christ fulfills prophecy, although in that occasion not with as events that are as tragic.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.


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