"Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 'A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.' " (Matthew 2:16-18)
From the time of Lucifer's rebellion and fall (including a third of the angelic host who went with him), there has been spiritual warfare in the unseen realms. Satan and the demons are now opposed to any- and everything godly and good, related in any way to his archenemy, God. Genesis 3:15 gives the first indication of the enmity specifically between the devil and the Redeemer. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
Spoken to Satan, this curse upon him by God set the stage for the defeated angel's ongoing attempts to thwart the inevitable coming of the Promised One.
Planned from the Pit, Herod's attempt to kill the predicted King was assuredly motivated by jealousy. Proverbs 27:4 describes his intensity: "Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy?" His jealous rage, coupled with his unfettered authority, served perfectly the Satanic strategy for discovering and destroying the infant Messiah.
Unable to pinpoint the exact location of the "usurper," he reasoned that a wholesale slaughter of all those males approximately His age and younger would surely result in His death. Humanly speaking, there was no logical reason why such a plan wouldn't succeed. Yet, as another king (Nebuchadnezzar) discovered centuries before, "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?' " [Daniel 4:35]. Thus, by means of a dream's warning, Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus were not in the vicinity of Herod's scorched earth edict.
Still, we seldom consider the incredible cost in human life connected with the Christ's coming. Heaven received the murdered babies whose lives were lost in this terrible attempt to locate the infant Lord, highlighting two truths: (1) the incalculable depths of Satan's (and fallen man's) evil nature; and (2) the inscrutable ways of the sovereign living God. As He forthrightly asserts, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts," (Isaiah 55:8,9).
"Yes, Father, You indeed are beyond our understanding, try as we might to bring You down to our level. May passages such as this deepen our submission to Your will, ways, and sovereignty. While many question Your goodness, may You strengthen our resolve to boldly embrace Your every attribute, including Your inscrutability. For, You are GOD, and there is no other. All glory, honor, and praise be given to Your matchless Name!
In the Name of Your Son,