Christians who follow the liturgical or biblical calendar know we celebrated Epiphany this past Sunday. That is when wise men from the East finally found the new born Savior they were seeking and worshiped him, even though they were of a wholly other faith.
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
These magi were not the first to worship Jesus. The first welcoming and worship of Jesus as Lord and Savior of all happened many months earlier … in the womb between two very special, miraculous mothers and their offspring. That story is here.
But there is another story in our Christian calendar that is integral to this very happy story of the wise men finding and worshipping the Savior. But this story is not happy at all. In fact, it is quite demonic.
As we read in Matthew 2, Herod “and all Jerusalem with him” were greatly troubled at the news of the birth of the king of the Jews. The citizens of Jerusalem and surrounding areas knew the lengths Herod would go to eliminate any kingly threat to his throne. He would spare no one in rooting out any competition.
This wicked and jealous king sought to use the magi so he could find and kill the newborn Christ child. He commanded them to let him know the location of this new child-king. But the magi were warned of Herod’s ghastly intentions in a dream and did not report back to Herod the child’s location. The scriptures tell us they “departed to their own country by another way.”
Other divine warnings went out as well. An angel also appeared to Joseph and instructed this new father,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
But when Herod learned he had been tricked by the wise men, Scripture tells us he “became furious” and “sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old and under…”
A holocaust. Right there in Jesus’ own drama.
This is not a mere Sunday School story. Imagine the sheer horror of this wave of death visited suddenly upon every male infant, not to mention that visited upon these boy’s mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Untold scores of children slaughtered. It was demonic, horrific beyond words. In fact, it is known historically as the Massacre of the Innocents. And it happened in Jesus’ life.
(credit: Peter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents d. 1611/12, Art Gallery of Ontario, in the public domain, wikimedia commons)
As a result, there was, as the Scriptures tell us, widespread “lamentation, weeping and great mourning” with the families and communities refusing ‘to be comforted, because there are no more” as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15.
John Piper captures God’s own mourning at such great evil in his poem, The Innkeeper.
But in one year the slaughter squad
From Herod came. And where do you
Suppose they started? Not a clue!
We didn’t have a clue what they
Had come to do. No time to pray,
No time to run, no time [to save my son.]
Only time to see
A lifted spear smash through his spine
And chest. He stumbled to the sign
That welcomed strangers to the place,
And looked with panic at my face,
As if to ask what he had done.
“Young man, you ever lost a son?”
The tears streamed down the Savior’s cheek,
He shook his head, but couldn’t speak.
“Before I found the breath to scream
I heard the words, a horrid dream:
‘Kill every child who’s two or less.
Spare not for aught, nor make excess.
This is what demonic activity does.
It destroys what God created and calls good. Jesus tells us the demonic steals, kills and destroys. It happened then … and it happens today.
Just days ago, The Guardian reported that leading Satanists are going to court in the U.S. to fight for “their right to a ‘Satanic Temple religious abortion ritual’” which is tied to one of the “seven fundamental tenets” of their religion. They have filed lawsuits in Idaho, Texas, Indiana and Missouri for the “right” to kill the unborn and feel no guilt about it. Their ritual itself declares, “One can also perform their favorite destruction ritual to target any of the unwanted feelings incited by adversity faced as a consequence of choosing to have an abortion.”
They celebrate death.
And Dr. Al Mohler, in a new Briefing podcast, explains how The New York Times itself is among the faithful in this dogmatic, religious devotion to the destruction of life. In a major “manifesto” published over the weekend on their editorial page, they make their intention all too clear: to codify what they call an “inalienable right” to abortion in every state. But of course, there is no inalienable right to take the life of another. For if successful, this is exactly what abortion does in every instance. As Mohler explains in his commentary, “That’s what makes abortion abortion.”
Mohler explains at length,
The editorial statement ends with calling for the federal government and the Biden administration to pass federal legislation that would enshrine a woman’s so-called right to abortion in federal law. … We have been told it right up front.
We do not have to try to discern whether or not there’s some kind of conspiracy afoot because in this case, it’s a conspiracy right out in public. So much so that the editorial board of The New York Times publishes it in full as a manifesto…
The New York Times is carrying heavy water for the new religious and fundamentalist dogma of abortion, a belief system that celebrates the destruction of the most vulnerable of human life among us. As Mohler concludes, it is a faith system that “is simply, manifestly, unquestionably the ambition to create death.”
But be sure of this…
God has set two sides against one another in very clear language,
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live…
Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV
God is clearly the author of life. His desperate Enemy is the author of death. Our church calendar and scripture tell us this struggle was an intimate part of Jesus’ own story in the slaughter of the innocents. It remains a part of our story today in the full-court press to redefine the taking of innocent pre-born life as a fundamental right that cannot be contested.
But that spirit of death must be contested with every bit of energy, voice and spiritual warfare we have, for its source is nothing short of demonic. It was true in New Testament times and it remains true today.