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Herod’s Massacre and Nigeria’s Killing Fields

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Learning Jesus for Truth Seekers

TEXT: Matthew 2:1-23

Ier Jonathan-Ichaver

Jesus was about 2 years old. He lived in the region of Judea and Herod was King. A group of wise men, Magi, came from the East – we do not know how many they were or where they came from – even though the popular notion drawn from Christmas stories is that they were 3 in number, the Scriptures do not say. They did present 3 gifts to Jesus and His parents though.

Side note – always good to read the Bible for yourself – and carefully. There are many things we assume that are not true. E.g. Eve and Adam ate the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden right? Not entirely. They ate a forbidden fruit but we are not told what kind of fruit it is.

Back to our text. Jesus, at 2, is already making waves and exposing the hearts of even kings. Herod the King hears about this new born King of the Jews from the Magi and immediately begins to feel threatened. By a two-year old! And goes to great and bloody lengths to prevent the emergence of this King and the fulfilment of God’s prophecy.

He did what he believed to be politically expedient to keep his throne – he ordered the massacre of any boy child 2 years and under in Bethlehem. Fulfilling a prophecy from Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 31:15) And his soldiers did his bidding. It is incredible the lengths people will go to in order to retain political power, their jobs and to please their superiors in the name of ‘doing their job.’ We should all be careful to pursue our careers and our ambitions in righteous and godly ways. Our time, as Herod would find out about a year or two later, is finite. We will die. And answer for our actions to the Great Judge.

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Herod should not have bothered. After the Magi’s visit, that very night, God sent an angel to warn Joseph about Herod’s evil plot. God also warned the Magi in a dream not to return to Herod. Joseph, the man of action and immediate obedience to God, got up and went to Egypt as God directed through His angel.

Lesson: Do not delay or hesitate when God gives you a command or prompts you. It could mean life or death.

Nobody can thwart God’s plans. Herod was battling in the physical and with brute force and power. God simply sent a dream. Apart from the Bible record, there are no other records of these killings of Bethlehem’s children – what theologians call ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’. It is almost as if it was expunged from the history books. Herod certainly did not keep a record. Sound familiar?

I am struck by the similarities between this massacre and massacres of innocents that have happened or are happening in various spots in our country – Borno, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue, Lekki, Obigbo etc. Innocent men, women and children are being killed daily by terrorists, militant herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, rogue soldiers and policemen – many of the killers protected by the rich and powerful in our society. With government officials sometimes denying the reports or downplaying the numbers. The situation seems hopeless. But even in all the carnage, God is recording every single incident, every single killer. We can hold on to the fact, that God’s purposes will prevail and these horrors, grievous as they are will last for only a short while and His justice will be done.

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Prayer: Lord, no one can prevent Your coming. Your kingdom. Your justice. This is what Herod tried to do to secure his throne with disastrous results. Help us Lord to pursue our ambitions in righteous and godly ways. And as we battle so many horrors in our would, many of which are unrecorded and undocumented, please send each innocent in danger right now your quiet and powerful help as You did for Jesus and the Magi. And may Your kingdom come. Speedily please. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

  • Ier Jonathan-Ichaver is a Bible student, striving Jesus follower and social worker.

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