The “Second Week”: Week Thirteen/Session Three.
Theme: The Childhood of Jesus.
Our reading for today: Matthew 2: 13-23.
After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.” Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.” Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he’d gotten from the scholars.)
Later, when Herod died, God’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt: “Up, take the child and his mother and return to Israel. All those out to murder the child are dead.” (Matthew 2: 13-16, 19-20 MsgB)
As we mentioned last time, there are very few New Testament texts about the childhood years of Jesus the Nazarene, son of Joseph and Mary. Only Matthew, the gospel writer, offers us this abbreviated story about the Egyptian exile, and apparently, only because he desires to tell his Jewish audience how these early years of exile into Egypt by the Holy family fulfilled prophetic utterances found in the ancient scriptures.
Yet, while only ten verses in the New Testament are given to these horrendous events that occurred in Israel at the hands of King Herod, the story once again illuminates for us the ancient, never-ending battle that rages here on earth between God, the all-powerful Creator of Life, and Lucifer, the lesser angel of darkness and death. And a deeper study of the Scriptures reveals that this horrendous battle over new life here on planet earth has been going on since the very beginning (Genesis) and will continue to the very end of days (Revelation).
You see, it’s God job, as Owner-Operator of the Cosmos, Creator and Life-Giver of everything Good and Pure, to work His redemptive seeds of life into this dark and fallen world we live in. In Genesis, we find our human ancestors (Adam and Eve) choosing to take their livelihood into their own hands, thus venturing outside the protective coverings afforded them by God in the gardens of Eden. As we see in Genesis 3:14-15, God ends up speaking strong words of judgment against the serpent who deceived Adam and Eve by coaxing them to trust in their own strength versus remaining under the authoritative love of their Heavenly Father. Thus the ‘seed’ of the man and the woman (our children) will constantly be in conflict with the ‘seed’ of the serpent (his devilish plans of death and darkness).
And just in case, you don’t believe this to be the case, let me give you a few examples from the Scriptures. Consider, first, the birth of God’s deliverer, Moses. At the time of his birth, Pharaoh, the commander of the Egyptian armies, demanded that every male child of the Hebrews be murdered. Satan wanted nothing better than to kill God’s servant long before he ever made it out of childhood. Next, throughout the Old Testament, we find a long list of violent wars waged against the people of Israel. The Jebusites, the Amalekites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, etc. etc. are all sworn to murdering every last one of God’s people, attempting to remove the ‘seed’ of God from planet earth. Then, of course, we find Matthew’s story about King Herod and his murderous plot to wipe out ‘God’s chosen Messiah’ along with every other Hebrew child under the age of two living in and around Bethlehem!
But, of course, Satan’s attempt to murder innocent children across the globe doesn’t stop there. Consider the plague (the black death) that wiped out 25 million people in the 14th century. Or more recently, the Holocaust, where Hitler and his SS forces systematically murdered eleven million Jews, with over one million deaths belonging to children. Sadly, the horrors of genocide, abortion, and human trafficking have become popular ways in our day and time to eliminate millions of innocent ones in this ever-increasing war over the lives of children world-wide.
As we said earlier, the Book of Revelation picks up this horrific theme, unveiling in even more gory detail this holy war between the birth of God’s ‘seed’ and the devilish work of evil that rages against the Creator’s holy plans of redemption (see Revelation 12).
So, as we read and reflect upon the war over Jesus’ life, we can know with great certainty that every ‘seed’ of new life and goodness that God wants to bring into our lives will be challenged to the hilt! But rather than be discouraged or disheartened by this truth, I suggest that we take note of what Revelation 12 states about the way these battles end (see Revelation 12: 7-12)…
War broke out in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought the Dragon. The Dragon and his Angels fought back, but were no match for Michael. They were cleared out of Heaven, not a sign of them left. The great Dragon—ancient Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, the one who led the whole earth astray—thrown out, and all his Angels thrown out with him, thrown down to earth. Then I heard a strong voice out of Heaven saying…
Salvation and power are established! Kingdom of our God, authority of His Messiah! The accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out, who accused them day and night before God. They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their witness. They weren’t in love with themselves; they were willing to die for Christ. So rejoice, O Heavens, and all who live there, but doom to earth and sea, for the Devil’s come down on you with both feet; he’s had a great fall; he’s wild and raging with anger; but he hasn’t much time and he knows it.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Satan’s time is limited. Our God wins. Our God reigns!
My prayer: Father God, it’s obvious from everything I see in Your Word and in human history, that it is war when it comes to all those ‘seeds’ of life You deposit here on planet earth. From Your Son, Jesus, to the smallest ‘seed’ of promise in my personal life, I choose to join with You, like Mary & Joseph, to protect and care for the life You want to birth here on earth. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Where is the battle over life going on in my world today? What children are under attack? What seeds of promise are under duress? Where can I become pro-active in the warfare, becoming one who fights for life, warring for good in this darkened world where Satan often wins battles he shouldn’t?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.
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