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.

4 Responses

  1. I put together some similar thoughts last night. What kept gonig through my mind was that as Christians we believe a different story…
    What happened in Connecticut was a horrible evil tragedy. Our prayers go out to every family who is grieving tonight. The depth of the grief of losing a child must be off the charts. I don’t even want to try to imagine that.
    Yet it is futile to try to “understand” or “make sense” of this event. Turn off your television or internet and consider this:
    Followers of Jesus believe a different story. We have a worldview that says there is real and pervasive evil all around. And we have plenty of evidence that this is true. Whether it was all the babies that Herod had slaughtered 2000 years ago, millions of Jewish men, women AND children killed last century, over 20 million Russians killed and starved to death by their leaders, and don’t forget the thousands of Jerry Sanduskys, or many other despicable acts of evil perpetrated today, yesterday or a hundred years ago. Evil is real. And it is all around us. It is even IN us. Yes the dividing line between good and evil is not in Connecticut and wherever you are at. It is in your own heart. The bible tells us that there is a spiritual battle between the forces of God and evil going on every day. And until Jesus returns it will be that way. So trying to come up with more laws, programs or warnings will not amount to much. We could make more laws on guns, videos, mental health policies, school access, and whatever else. They might be helpful. They might make us feel better. But they won’t stop evil. So don’t put your hope there.
    But we believe there is ONE who has overcome evil. And He now reigns in heaven. And there is one day when Jesus will bring all to judgment. And either they will be judged with mercy because of their submission to God and faith in Jesus taking on the penalty for their evil because He loved them that much or with wrath because of their continued rebelliousness towards God.
    So why doesn’t God come down and bring that judgment right now? Because every single person who has evil in their hearts which has not been forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus would be doomed. Every one. And God doesn’t want that. So He is patient wanting people to do a 180 and come back to Him in hope, faith and love.
    So we are not going to fix or defeat evil, except in our own hearts. There will be more death, divorce, disease and evil around. It’s not going away until Jesus returns. But we can invite Him to remove OUR evil and teach us to love like He loves. That is the message of the gospel! We can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the brokenness that our evil has brought can possibly be used for the good of others.
    So mourn not only for the families in Connecticut. But also for your family, friends, neighbors and workmates who continue to refuse to take responsibility for their own evil and turn to the only One who can offer a different path.

    1. We first have to have a good look at our own lives. What are we doing personally to change the culture around us as much as we can? Are we exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit? If we aren’t, then we better find out why not. It all starts at home and goes out from there.

  2. Small, green, garden snakes feeding on small insects don’t bother many people. However, Dieter and Helga saw a huge snake in their small hut at the edge of the village.

    Even though Dieter and Helga were well-prepared to serve as part of a medical team in the steamy jungle, they were unprepared for a very large python – over four meters long – to slither through the front door and into the kitchen. Startled and terrified, the couple ran outside seeking someone who might know what to do.

    One of the men from the village came to the rescue. The machete-wielding man simply walked into the hut and cut off the snake’s head with one swift cut. Smiling triumphantly, the man came outside and assured the couple that the python had been defeated. “However”, he warned them, “the python is still dangerous; it will take some time before the snake knows it is dead. The nervous system and blood flow for snakes are unusual. It can take many hours for snakes to stop moving even after the head is cut off.”

    There was no way the couple could stop the python from thrashing around, smashing the table and chairs, breaking dishes and other glassware, banging against walls and windows, causing much damage until its body finally got the message that it no longer had a head. While waiting for the python to cease its destruction, the couple wisely got out of its destructive ways and continued looking after the needs of the villagers.

    Suddenly a thought came to Dieter. “Satan is a lot like that large python. Even though Satan was
    defeated by the Messiah’s death and resurrection, he just doesn’t act like it. He continues to do destructive things through people. But never forget that he is a loser; he has been defeated.” .. From our tract The Headless Python.

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