The tragedy last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT has been heavy on the hearts of all. It is always natural to ask serious questions in times like this. Why did God let this happen? Why did some die and others lived? Some may even question the goodness of God.
Given that this mass murder took place so close to Christmas, I’m sure that many of you have thought about another mass murder that happened in close proximity to the first Christmas. We read about it in Matthew 2:16-18:
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, 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, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more."
Herod had instructed the wise men to find Jesus for him under the guise of desiring to come and worship him. Of course, his real desire was to kill the Messiah whom he regarded as a threat to his own power (v8). But the wise men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod (v12). So Herod resorted to this horrific act of ruthlessness similar to what took place in Connecticut last week. He had every boy two years or younger in Bethlehem killed so that he could be certain Jesus would die.
Scholars estimate that a town the size of Bethlehem would have had as few as 20 boys that age, and with the surrounding area accounted for there could have been around 30. 30 young boys slaughtered simply because Herod was paranoid. It was from this slaughter that God providentially preserved Jesus by directing Joseph to take Him to Egypt (vv13-15).
Neither the evil displayed in Connecticut nor the scene of carnage in Bethlehem was an isolated event. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history is aware of this. There have been countless mass murders since the beginning of time and all of them have at least one thing in common. They demonstrate the total depravity of mankind. They are the worst examples of what man is capable of. They are all a direct result of the Fall.
And though they may cause us to doubt God’s goodness, they should do the opposite, especially in light of that first Christmas slaughter. The murder in Bethlehem shows that in and through such tragedies God is moving history toward a day when all such evil will be ended. Christ’s being preserved from that slaughter was necessary to provide a solution that would address all evil. God was not saving His Son from death indefinitely. It simply wasn’t time yet.
But the day did come when the Messiah was slaughtered by evil men in a fashion far worse than anything we have ever seen. God offered His own Son in order that all sin would come to an end, either by being covered with Christ’s blood on the cross or by being covered with His wrath on the last day.
All of this points to the goodness of God. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (1John 3:8). Most of us will have the opportunity to discuss Sandy Hook with our unbelieving friends and family. Let’s not shy away from these conversations, but use them as occasions to share about what God has done to deal with evil. He sacrificed His own Son.
Posted by Greg Birdwell