As I had mentioned with the genealogies, we can also, sometimes gloss over fulfilled prophecy passages. Perhaps because we think it interrupts the story, or perhaps we think it is interesting, but not important. Yet, in today’s text we have three fulfilled prophecies. These prophecies, like all biblical prophecies, are a big deal. Especially, these which prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” 14 He arose and took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent out and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding countryside, from two years old and under, according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; she wouldn’t be comforted, because they are no more.”19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20 “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the young child’s life are dead.” 21 He arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there. Being warned in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee, 23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets that he will be called a Nazarene.Matthew 2:13-23
Prophecy and Herod
Prophecies are important because God tells us that one of the ways we can know if a prophet is from God is if what they say actually comes to pass. These fulfilled prophecies show us the validity of God’s chosen prophets. An important understanding in distinquishing between false and true prophets comes down to truth and lies.
Today we have many false prophets. There are those who have claimed to know future events like Charles Taze Russel or Joseph Smith. Charles Russel is the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He predicted the world would end in 1914. Joseph Smith is the founder of the Latter-day Saints (Mormonism). He had predicted many things about his day that also never came to pass. Things like the restoration of the tribes of Israel and that the new Jerusalem would be built in Missouri.
Much like those false prophets and their false teachings (Galatians 1:8) we have other false prophets and teachers who claim to have a direct word from God, that seems to always be different than the Gospel of Christ Crucified, or who appear to teach Christian messages but with a bit of moralism or mysticism added in. Sometimes, the messages are all about you, theology of glory, instead of Christ, theology of the cross.
The same rules apply. They may not be proclaiming to know the future but we can know a Christian preacher from a false one, and that is in the message that they preach. Is it Christ crucified for you, saved by grace alone, through faith alone; or is it something different entirely? Perhaps a good rule of thumb is to determine if the message points you to naval gaze at your works, efforts, love, feelings, or if it points you outside yourself at Christ crucified for you.
Herod was pointing to Christ but only because he was lead by first pointing to himself. He was a paranoid murderous ruler who would stop at nothing to keep his power and reign. He was inward focused. If Harod was a false preacher, he would claim that he was like David conquering his Goliath. He was trying to live his best life now but this infant king (his Goliath) was standing in his way. He would have to slay this king if he were to pursue his life of health, wealth, and prosperity. And he tried to do just that.
Herod wanted his kingdom, he wanted this life, he wanted the temporal. He wanted to chase all that this life had to offer and to live his truth. He wanted to pursue his passions and power. He wanted to live his life and in order to do that, an infant had to die. Not just one, all of them, it didn’t matter just as long as he could keep living his life that was a life all about him. This speaks to our day. This entire paragraph could speak to the crowd that claims true freedom and empowerment is only achieved through the choice to kill the innocent children.
Herod and false prophets have something in common. They both want to kill God. In order for them to live their own glory then God must die. They both have to kill God, by killing his message, by silencing His Word. For Herod this means rejecting the faith, and living his own life, it means rejecting the kingdom of heaven for the kingdom of the world; sin, death, and the devil. For false preachers it means killing the Word through preaching their own pretext, using scripture as a prooftext; talking about anything other than the actual context of Scripture. This especially means robbing you of the larger context of Christ crucified for your sins.
Yet, Herods plan failed and He did not kill God, even though God died for Him. False preachers may proclaim their own visions and ideology yet God died for them as well. The shed blood of Christ covers all sins, even those of blasphemy and idolatry. This is comforting for us because we are all Herod. We are all false preachers to ourselves.
We tell ourselves little lies and sin constantly, in doubt we give into temptation, we don’t always love like Christian’s should, we don’t live like Christian’s should and by our actions we profane the name of Christ. We want to chase what the world gives, we want to have our own little kingdoms, and we want power. We want praise and acknowledgement and we want all of this more than we want our neighbor to have it. We actually burn inside when we do not get what we want and especially when someone else gets to have it. We even kill innocent children in our country to attain more for ourselves.
God died for that. He died for all of it. He took all of the sin of the entire world, and all of the sins you would ever do and He not only allowed Himself to be a sinner, though He was without sin, He let sinners pour some of the punishment on Him. He let our sinful hands strip Him naked, whip Him, our mouths to spat on Him, our hands to nail Him to the tree, and then let us mock Him. God, naked, bleeding, on the cross. The Holy One, who looks like the worst sinner in the world because at that moment; He was.
So that you could be innocent of the sin, guilt, and a condemnation that you deserve. To give you the clean slate, the holiness, the eternal righteousness, that you do not deserve. This is the Gospel. This is the message that false prophets rob you of, this is the message that you don’t want to believe, because apart from the gift of faith it is unbelievable. That God would do that for you? Yeah, pretty unbelievable, until it is believable, through faith, another gift from God; for you. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.