Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 3:1-6

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! 3 For this he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; Makes His paths straight.” 4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his good was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

Israel, had long waited for the coming of the Messiah.  Among those was Zacharias, a priest, and his wife Elisabeth.  Both were righteous before God, and in their quiet and holy lives the light of faith shone out like a star amid the darkness in those evil days.  It was to this godly pair that the promise was given of a son who should go before the face of the Lord to prepare His way.

God always send a messenger ahead to prepare the way. Abraham was sent of God to introduce God’s message to the heathen Canaanites. When there number was but 70 people, God prepared Egypt to receive Jacob and his sons and their families. He did this through Joseph, whom his brothers sold into slavery.

When King David went from place to place among the nation of Israel, a running always proceeded him to inform the people, so they would be ready to receive their king. When Jesus was born, he worked upon the hearts of the people by the messages of the shepherds, Simeon, Anna and the wise men.

Now as Jesus was to begin his earthly ministry, he sent John before him to prepare the hearts of the people to receive their king. John was the cousin of Jesus. The story is outlined in the gospel written by Luke the author, historian and doctor. (see Luke 1:36)

The prophet Isaiah prophesied 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low: The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth. 5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 40:3-5

From the wilderness came the voice calling the people to repentance. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The hearts of many were moved.   Great crowds heard the message and were baptized by John in the River Jordan. They confessed their sins and awaited the coming King expecting the King to set up a kingdom hear on earth.

No great riches did John seek for himself. A simple life style was his. Clothed in the simplest of dress with a simple diet John preached with conviction proclaiming the good news of the soon coming Messiah.

Then hearing of John and his message, Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the areas around came to hear John, be baptized in the Jordan and confess their sins. There was change upon the horizon. The hearts of men and women were being awakened, prepared for the soon coming of the Messiah.

But when he saw many of the . . .

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 2:16-23

16 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 male 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. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 “A

voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her

children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.” 19 Now when Herod was dead,

behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,   20 saying, “Arise, take

the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young

Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into

the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his

father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside

into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be

fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

 

Herod the great, who invested millions of dollars into the reconstruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem could not control his anger. So outraged was he as to the prospect that the Jews would have another king that he determined in his heart that he would destroy the child. This is the same Herod who had killed members of his own family out of jealousy when he was crowned King of the Jews by Roman authority.

When it became clear that the wise men had tricked him and left the area for their own homes he gave the command to kill all the male children who were 2 years old or less. In this way, he was sure to rid himself of this Newborn King.

The area that became known as Judea was part of the original 12 tribes of Israel. It was actually from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin that Judea was formed when the 10 tribes split away. Isn’t it interesting to note that King Saul was a Benjaminite and King David was from the tribe of Judah. And these tribes made up the area that was called Judea. Jew was a term used to scribe someone from Judea that was an Israelite.

Herod gives the command and all through the area around Bethlehem, Roman soldiers begin to commit the terrible crime of killing male children under the age of two. Satan was determined to kill the child and used Herod to perform this great wickedness. But as we have discovered, God protects his own.

No matter how many or how few children lost their lives, this would have been a great tragedy. Josephus in his lengthy record of the atrocities committed by Herod, makes no mention of the slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem. Yet this is a deed that well fits with the callous character of Herod and was one of the last acts of his life. It should also be pointed out, should Josephus have commented upon this event to any extent, and then himself being a Jew, he would have had to account for the claims that were made the Jesus was the Messiah. Josephus was a Jew steeped in the understanding of Jewish culture, religion and traditions, it is doubtful he would have been willing to accept that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. When Josephus wrote he wrote as an apologist of Judaism for the Romans and in particular for the emperor Vespasian so he also would have avoided mentioning anything that might have antagonized Rome.

 

When Herod was dead, again an angel appeared unto the Joseph in Egypt saying, “Arise take the young Child and His mother and go the land of Israel. But when Joseph heard that Herod’s son Archelaus was reigning over Judea he prayed and was directed to move back to Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”  

It was Nathaniel, the disciple of Jesus, that said “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Philip another follow of Jesus said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:46

I invite you to come and see as we begin to open up God’s word in the book of Matthew.

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

I apologize to each of you that have faithful followed this blog over the past month.  I appreciate your support and the comments you have made.  Unfortunitly life has become very chaotic this week causing my time to prepare and write the next few installment of a journey through Matthew to not happen.  I will be posting a new installment Monday Morning.

Thank you for your patience

Lester Bentley

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