Egypt • Devotion #5: Massacre of Children

I hated writing the title of this devotion. I know children have a special place in God’s heart. Matthew 19:13-14 says, “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” God loves children; Jesus welcomed them.

We celebrate the story of Moses, but might forget Pharaoh’s command that affected others. Exodus 1:22 records, “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.’” Children died, but even though God’s heart ached, His plan moved forward in Moses.

Jeremiah prophesied of another time when children would be massacred, “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’” (Jeremiah 31:15).

Matthew 2:16-18 documents the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words, “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.’” Matthew quoted Jeremiah as foretelling Herod’s horrendous command to kill all the male children.

The Pharaoh and Herod were both selfish. They would do anything to exalt themselves or to stop others from being exalted as “high” as them. They were weak and lived in fear.

Jonathan Edwards, a leading preacher in the revival of the Great Awakening, challenges all of us to not be like the Pharaoh or Herod. He said, “Some persons are always ready to level those above them down to themselves, while they are never willing to level those below them up to their own position. But he that is under the influence of true humility will avoid both these extremes. On the one hand, he will be willing that all should rise just so far as their diligence and worth of character entitle them to; and on the other hand, he will be willing that his superiors should be known and acknowledged in their place, and have rendered to them all the honors that are their due.”

We need to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

We also need to follow Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

The massacre of the children is horrible. Jeremiah probably cringed as he penned the words. Fulfilled prophecy is amazing even when it is negative.

A positive take is to help kids and those who cannot help themselves. We should give others a helping hand.

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