When the family of Jacob descended to Egypt their number was seventy. Many years went by, Joseph and those who knew him had passed away. The small family that had come to Egypt had multiplied greatly and the land was filled with them. A new king came to power. He feared the large crowd of foreigners living in his land and decided to make them his slaves. But the harder he worked them, the greater they grew. The Pharaoh decided to take more drastic measures. He ordered all baby boys to be killed after birth.
Baby Moses was born and we know the famous story, of how his mother hid him for three months. She made him a basket and put him in the water, close to where the Pharaoh’s daughter would bath. His big sister Miriam stood nearby to keep watch. While all other baby boys were killed, Moses lived. He would eventually lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and bring them to the borders of the promised land.
This week we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Also his birth has a terrible story of baby boys being killed connected to it. King Herod feared what the news of the Newborn King could do to his reign so when the Magi came to him he asked secretly when the star had appeared. He asked them to let him know where he could find the child. What he didn’t tell them was that he planned to kill the child. The Magi were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod.
“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who where two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” Matthew 2:16
While all the other baby boys were killed, Jesus lived. The angel of the Lord had appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take the child and his mother to safety. He would eventually die at the cross for the sins of the world, conquer death itself, and allow for all of us to have access to the Promised Land.
Both Pharaoh and Herod were evil men who committed horrible acts against the most vulnerable ones. Their motivation was fear and it almost lead to killing the savior, twice. Over and over the Lord tells us in His word not to be afraid. “Fear not” is written over eighty times in the bible. Actions fueled by fear can have terrible consequences as we see in the two stories we read this week. While our actions will likely not be wicked or evil, it is good to be aware of what motivates us. The Lord Jesus himself gives us a much better motivator; peace, His peace by the Holy Spirit.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
May our actions be motivated by the Holy Spirit and the Peace that only the Lord gives.