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Summary: The devil seeks to terrorise our own souls, but he will fail. In the end Satan cannot snuff out the anointing within us.

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THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS

Matthew 2:16-18

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; Job 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; Job 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” (Matthew 2:2). 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 (Matthew 2:4). They searched the Scriptures, and at last found the answer in Micah 5:2. “Bethlehem in Judea,” they answered (Matthew 2:5-6).

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!

Having found the answer, Herod sent the travellers on their way, still pretending that he wanted to do homage to the holy child (Matthew 2:8). However, after the wise men had found Him, they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and they returned home by another route (Matthew 2:12). Sometimes our dreams do have meaning, especially when we have been in the divine Presence!

Herod's reaction showed his true desire. Herod had no desire towards “the desire of all nations” (Haggai 2:7), whom Jewish women desired to mother (Daniel 11:37). Herod had all the baby boys in Bethlehem murdered because he desired to snuff Him out (Matthew 2:16).

We are rightly appalled at the horrendous atrocities of man to man. The murder of babies in particular strikes a sympathetic chord with us. Yet is our generation innocent of this same crime with our abortion-on-demand?

However, Herod was too late. Joseph had received instructions from an angel, and he had taken the Child and His mother and they had all escaped to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).

There seemed to be no consolation for the mothers in Bethlehem. Rachel, who was buried there after her own death in childbirth, is portrayed by Jeremiah as weeping for her children as they went into exile (Jeremiah 31:15). Matthew sees her weeping again, in another fulfilment of this Scripture, when the infants in Bethlehem were so cruelly massacred (Matthew 2:17-18).

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