Newtown, Egypt, Bethlehem and Deliverance

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This past week has been a tough one. News of what happened in Connecticut came right after we found out that the neighbor behind us killed her boyfriend who had been physically abusing her. I came home on Thursday to see police tape around their yard and policemen walking next to our fence. We never really got to know them. We tried to meet them but they wouldn’t answer their door. Now we know why they were so reclusive. These are tragic and difficult times.

While the trauma is fresh, these types of things are nothing new. I don’t say that to trivialize the events but to put them in the broader perspective of human experience. They have gone on for thousands of years and will continue to happen until Jesus returns. In the book of Exodus, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, felt threatened by the Hebrews. So he ordered the killing of all their baby boys upon delivery. Tragic. There was much weeping and mourning. But one of those baby boys escaped death and delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. They named this baby Moses because he was “drawn out” of the Nile river in the basket his mother had placed him in. In essence, he was delivered from the fate of his infant peers and was delivered from the river into Pharaoh’s own household. A baby born in tragic times who God would later use to bring deliverance to a nation in slavery.

In Deuteronomy 18, Moses prophesied that there would be another prophet like Moses who would come. 1300 years later we get the rest of that story. In Matthew 2 we read about another ruler who felt threatened by the Hebrews. His name was King Herod and he was not afraid to use violence to ensure his power. Herod was a paranoid ruler who was even known for killing his own family members if he felt threatened.When he heard a king was born in Bethlehem he tried to have him killed. When his plan failed he ordered all the young boys in the town of Bethlehem to be killed. Matthew tells us that there was much weeping and mourning in Bethlehem. But one boy escaped. They named this baby Jesus because he would save his people by delivering us from sin.

In the midst of tragedy, even the killing of the innocent as we have seen, God finds a way through it all. N.T. Wright says this about the dark events that surround the coming of the Messiah,

“The gospel of Jesus the Messiah was born, then, in a land and at a time of trouble, tension, violence and fear. Banish all thoughts of peaceful Christmas scenes. Before the Prince of Peace  had learned to walk and talk, he was a homeless refugee with a price on his head. At the same time, in this passage and several others Matthew insists that we see in Jesus, even when things are at their darkest, the fulfillment of scripture. This is how Israel’s redeemer was to appear; this is how God would set about liberating his people, and bring justice to the whole world No point in arriving in comfort, when the world is in misery; no point having an easy life when the world  suffers violence and injustice! If he is to be Emmanuel, God with us, he must be with us where the pain is. (Matthew for Everyone, 14)”

These things are no surprise to God. He has seen it all before. I know it doesn’t take away all the hurt and pain that come in times like these but there is comfort in knowing that God’s got this one. He has done it before and he will do it again. We don’t put all of our hope in the government or in legislation or in anything else but God. He alone brings deliverance and salvation from evil.

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