The Massacre of the Innocents
Sermon shared by Christopher Holdsworth
Summary: The devil seeks to terrorise our own souls, but he will fail. In the end Satan cannot snuff out the anointing within us.
Series: Year A, Christmas 1
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THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS
You might not be surprised if I told you that the devil is pacing up and down in this earth as an adversary, like a lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan (literally, the Adversary) boasted of the same thing long ago when he appeared amongst the sons of God in heaven (Job 1:6-7; 2:2).
However, the LORD being Sovereign, the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) can only push us as far as God allows (Job 1:12; 2:6). The enemy of our souls is a dog on a leash, a lion on a chain, subject to the overall control of God. Ultimately, whatever seeming victories he has, he is overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11).
Satan sought to destroy Simon Peter, but failed on account of the prayer of Jesus (Luke 22:31-32). False christs and false prophets appear with lying wonders, hoping to deceive even the elect of God, but find it impossible (Matthew 24:24).
There is an inevitability about this. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master,” says Jesus (Matthew 10:24). Since the Lord was persecuted, his servants can expect nothing less (John 15:20). Just as surely as the enemy sought to destroy the Anointed, he will also try to destroy the anointing in you. BUT, he will just as surely fail!
Satan sought to destroy Jesus from the very beginning. His attacks against the house of David, from whom Messiah would come, were many and various, culminating in the massacres of the wicked Queen Athaliah. “But” one boy survived, and was hidden in the house of God for six years, until the time was right to overthrow the usurper (2 Kings 11:1-3). The victory came from the Temple of God!
The LORD is not mentioned in the book of Esther, but His providence is seen throughout. An attempted genocide of the Jewish people threatened the seed from whom Messiah would come. Good Queen Esther took her life in her hands, and dared to appear uninvited before her husband the king of Persia. He held out the golden sceptre towards her in acknowledgement, and answered her petitions. If we come before God at any time, in the name of Jesus, we are received, and our prayers are just as surely answered (Hebrews 4:16).
In Jerusalem, Herod the Great heard disturbing news from some travellers from the East. They sought One who was “born king” (2). Wise men still seek Him, preferring Jesus to all the petty tyrants of this world.
To Herod, He posed a threat. Herod feigned interest, but intended all along to destroy Him. Having gathered all the chief priests and scribes together, he inquired where the Christ was to be born (4). They searched the Scriptures, and at last found the answer in Micah 5:2. “Bethlehem in Judea,” they answered (5-6).
There is a right way of studying the Bible, and a wrong way. The right way is to come with a petition like that of Samuel: “Speak, LORD, thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:9-10).
One wrong way is to study the Bible with a view to, allegedly, disproving it. Another would be to use the Bible as some sort of random promise box without recognising either the conditions so often attached to these promises, nor indeed the real Message of the Book. Herod's scheme was worse even than either of these. Herod sought to find out the truth in order to defy the Truth!
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