LHM Advent Devotion – January 5, 2015 “The Tyrant’s Fury”

 

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Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Reverend Wayne Palmer

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin!  Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int’l LLL (LHM). 

“The Tyrant’s Fury”

January 5, 2015

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Read Matthew 2:7-8; 13-16.
… he 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. Matthew 2:16B

Simeon had warned Mary that Jesus would be a sign spoken against. Here is the first proof. King Herod is so fearful of this new King, and so enraged when the wise men do not report back His location, that he orders the deaths of all male children two years old and under. He is confident the new King will be caught up and swept away in the process. Of course, God warned Joseph in a dream, and Joseph fled in the middle of the night with Mary and Jesus to find safety in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).

It is hard to read this passage without wondering why God would permit King Herod to have heard the prophecy of Micah, especially knowing what Herod would do. But in grace and mercy God was reaching out with the saving Gospel to Herod just as He was reaching out to the wise men. It is not God’s fault. Rather, it is Herod’s fault alone that he chose to abuse his God-given authority and murder those innocent boys in and around Bethlehem.

Of course, Herod failed to kill the Christ child, and ended up killing those innocent boys instead. As his soldiers completed their bloody mission in Bethlehem and its vicinity, Jesus was safely on His way to Egypt. Jesus survived Herod’s murderous attempt because He did not come into this world to die as a baby. Nor did He come to become a political ruler or king over the region of Israel. He came to offer His life as a God-pleasing sacrifice to save the world from its sin.

God is merciful to you and me too. If you have read each of these devotions through the Advent and Christmas seasons, then you have heard the marvelous story of God’s love and salvation offered to you freely through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. God calls you to faith, trust, and eternal life through His Word. Yet He won’t force you to believe anymore than He forced Herod.

Too often, like Herod, we set our minds on our earthly kingdom and reject the peace God offers us. But thankfully God continues to stretch out His hand as He calls us, His own sons and daughters, to be citizens of His Kingdom. He gives us church homes in which He gathers us to hear His Word and celebrate the Sacraments. Both of these He has provided to create and nurture faith within us throughout our lives. And in the end, He will gather us into His eternal home.

God grant that we may respond to the news as the wise men did, rejoicing to find our Savior and offer Him our praise and thanksgiving eternally.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, You have been so merciful to all of us. Cleanse me from my sins for Jesus’ sake, and make me strong to walk before You and share my Savior’s Name with all people. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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