Barely out of the womb, our Savior, Jesus Christ, came under the threat of death. King Herod had sent the Magi on a mission to find the Christ child under the pretense of wanting to worship Him (Matthew 2:7-8), but his true intention was to kill Him. As commissioned, the Magi found Baby Jesus and worshipped Him, but God double-crossed Herod. God warned the Magi in a dream of the wicked king’s intentions and they doubled back to their own country by another route, failing to report their findings to Herod (v.12).
Herod never responded well to trickery, and this was no exception. His focus and political agenda had been to rid himself of the One born King of the Jews. His plan to visit and execute this particular child had been thwarted; now he would double down on killing infants and increase his odds of eliminating his Earthly competitor. He declared war on newborn males, and the stroke of death would spare none whom it could find.
Herod was an Edomite, a clan born and bred to despise the Jews. His predecessor Doeg, also an Edomite and who lived during the time of King Saul and David, killed 85 priests of the LORD (1 Samuel 22:18-19). Thus, merciless killing was rooted firmly in Herod’s bloodline. Even with this history, it is hard to conceive how Herod could devise such a heinous plan or find anyone so inhuman as to carry out such a bloody and barbarous task as slaughtering innocent children wholesale.
Infant children have always been given special quarter, and rightly so. These innocents have always been taken under special protection, not only of human laws, but of human nature and common decency. Nevertheless, in Herod’s vengeance these precious souls were sacrificed shamelessly to the unmitigated rage of this despicable tyrant, under whom innocence was twisted to be considered a vulnerability, not a form of security.
Herod was a bloody man throughout his reign, not just after the birth of our LORD. Just a short time before, he had destroyed the entire Sanhedrin. One would think this act of killing would satisfy him for a lifetime. Nevertheless, and despite Herod’s age, about 70 years old, he considered an infant under the age of two to be a mortal threat. It was highly unlikely this child would cause him any disturbance before Herod died. But Herod was not fond of even his own children, having committed a double murder of his sons Alexander and Aristobulus. To a blood-thirsty man, death is like a drink to the drunkard – the more he drinks, the more he wants.
Given his history, the large measures Herod took to rid himself of Jesus Christ are not surprising. He slew all those two years old and under. It is probable our Savior Jesus Christ was less than a year old at this time, yet Herod ordered all those under two years of age to be put to the sword so as not to miss any of his prey. He did not care how many children died; his only concern was to annihilate his competition.
Despite his knowledge of Christ’s birthplace in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:5-6), he failed to limit the killing of male children, which extended to all coasts and borders of Israel. Not since Moses’ birth do we read of such barbarity against infants. Herod’s order was over-wicked (Ecclesiastes 7:17). Whereas every life is forfeited at birth to God’s justice, these children had only the common guilt shared by all mankind, nothing more. They were no greater sinners than the rest of the Israelites and did nothing excessive to deserve their fate.
The murder of these infants is a form of martyrdom, which also demonstrates how early the persecution of Christ’s church and His Kingdom began. These children shed their blood for Him; Jesus afterwards shed His blood for them. Baptized with their own blood, we suspect these martyrs received special compensation in Heaven for what they lost on Earth.
It is not normal to kill children, either in or out of the womb. All the children of Bethlehem had been murdered, with only Jesus Christ escaping and with only Him able to be the Messiah. Herod doubled down on death to rid himself of a King, as shamelessly as a man would burn an entire hive to destroy the lone queen bee.
Herod thought he had circumvented all the Old Testament prophecies, but God is stronger than Herod. God delivered His Son from death and His Son delivered us from death. Praise Him and double down on your commitment to serving Him.
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A servant of Jesus Christ
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