In Matthew 2 we find the famous account of the wise men of whom we sing: they came from the east, following Christ’s star, bearing gifts for the “King of the Jews” which led them to Jesus. You will recall that Herod was very disturbed by the news and had the wise men brought to him and told them that after they found the Messiah, they were to come back and let him know so he could go and worship him also. (Yea, right?) The wise men are told in a dream not to go back to Herod and an angel appears to Joseph and tells him to “get out of Dodge”, go to Egypt for Herod would try to kill the babe.
Now we pick up at Matthew 2:16-18: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentations, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
So much for that “good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” Can you imagine the hollering and grief of losing all the male children 2 years old and under? One might ask “Did these parents find great joy as a result of the birth of the “King of the Jews”?
Even after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he, having paid the full ransom for the sins of the whole world and with believers receiving eternal life for faith in Jesus Christ, about 60 million people still die each year. Many are Christians and many are young, tragic deaths. Where is their joy in the birth of Jesus Christ?
Open your Bibles and read Jeremiah chapter 31, a Messianic prophesy of hope and joy that He will establish in the coming kingdom of God on earth. God gives this message of hope at a time when Nebuchadnezzar has stomped Israel and taken the crops and all the best it has; copper, silver and gold, the best tradesmen, the most skilled and wisest people, and the best bred, most learned children off to Babylon and left the rest to fend with what is left. Amid this devastation, God gives these assurances of a coming day: “For there will be a day when the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim “Arise and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” (6) and we pick up at vs 13 “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and young men and old, together, for I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”
Now as we continue let me tell you that in Jeremiah 40 we see that Ramah is a place outside of Jerusalem which was basically the holding place where the selected Jews including the well-bred and wisest children were gathered before being exiled to Babylon. Jeremiah continues with the quote we find in Mt 2: (18) “Thus says the Lord: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” This is “real time” description of what was happening in Jeremiah’s day as well as a prophecy for the crushed mothers in Jerusalem at the time around Jesus’ birth because Matthew places it there. Now hear the promise of hope and assurance that God gives to the mothers of the children swiped off to Babylon, the mothers of the massacred babies in Jerusalem and to you and me: (16) “Thus says the Lord: “Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the Lord, that your children shall come back to their border.”
“there is hope in your future”, God knows and has it covered is the message Matthew leaves all with the mothers of Jerusalem and you and I when he included the prophecy in Matthew 2:15. Not only is God letting the mothers know that He knew 600 years earlier that they would suffer such loss, but He has it covered.
Merry Christmas everybody! Jesus Christ is the hope of all ages and indeed is the “tidings of great joy that shall be to all people.” In God’s time.