Triumph of the Innocents, by William Holman Hunt, 1883-4
GOD’S REMINDER: “[Herod] commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and younger who lived in Bethlehem and it’s surrounding hills.” (Matthew 2:16-17 MSG)
NOTE TO SELF: Yesterday I visited a new church, and ironically this scripture was part of the sermon. I found it odd because last year God had shown me this verse and it truly opened my eyes to the reality of God’s Word.
God doesn’t pick and choose fluffy verses for us to always feel good. More often than not, He provides us with reality. God’s Word is not a place for fairytales. It’s filled with the horror and evil that prevailed and still prevails. God provides witness to the darkness that is eating away at our world, and He did it for a reason.
These stories of children being massacred are not new. Matthew verifies this truth. It provides us ample reasons for a Savior. The world has gone mad—greedy for power, disabled by darkness, taken by self-righteousness, and eaten alive by guilt and shame. God told us we needed Him. God’s telling us we need Him still.
While God could have easily stopped Herod, and God could have easily stopped the young man who killed all those innocent children at Sandy Hook School, He didn’t. Because God doesn’t “force” us to do anything. We choose to do them, and God gives us freedom to choose. And as wonderful as free will seems to be, it also has its disadvantages, such as the loss of so many innocent lives. However, it doesn't mean that God doesn’t TRY to stop the madness, because He is relentless in His pursuit for us.
The sad part about it all is that normal everyday people don’t get that, but will instead find ways to blame God for the darkness. “Where was God?” they’ll yell and scream (and the loudest voices, ironically, will be those of atheists).
Yes, where was God? That’s a good question. He was achingly, painfully, crying His heart out that man chose evil and deception over Goodness and Truth. He is forever in mourning, just like you and I.
And although many non-believers will ask us these tough questions, we have the tough answers, so please don’t tell anyone, “I don’t know,” because you do, and you should. The tough answer is that we have cast God aside, and our only hope is a Savior. Our job is to help others now seek Him and know Him. It is our job to speak the unfiltered truth. Not the fluffy “you-can-have-it-all” game show, watered down truth; but the reality that God set before us: Herod killed ALL the male children two years and under IN Bethlehem AND the surrounding hills. BUT…Jesus’ life was spared, because God had a purpose for Him...and Joseph listened when God told Him to flee to Egypt. Two key components: God spoke, man listened.
440 years before Jesus arrived on the scene, several prophets were called to speak the real truth of God, and they called for their nation to repent. But they refused to listen, yet God did not relent. My point is, that God IS trying to be with us at all times. He is trying desperately to get our attention. We are called to be the voice of God in troubled times. Consider what Anne Graham Lotz wrote in, I Saw the Lord:
“Isaiah’s words were strong, unvarnished, cutting and totally intolerant of sin. He bluntly called sin the way he saw it…But the message seemed to be muffled by angry voices blaming everyone and anyone for the devastation. Voices that politicized something that was a God-sized problem and needed a God-given solution (she was referring to Hurricane Katrina). Like you and me, Isaiah lived in a world that didn’t listen and therefore just didn’t get God’s message, either. Again and again, God warned His people of impending judgment… Isaiah was committed to preaching God’s Word in an effort to convict God’s people of their sin.” (pgs. 45, 51)God is trying to raise up men and women who will be bold enough to speak reality and truth to the people, even when they refuse to listen. Don’t glaze over the hard parts of the Bible, they tell the reality of our own world and our desperate need for a Savior.