Herod’s Great Atrocity: Matthew 1:16-18

Herod’s Great Atrocity: Matthew 1:16-18
“16) 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. 17) Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 18) “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
We now come to Herod’s Great Atrocity. When he realized he had been tricked by the magi, he became enraged and issued a decree that all male babies from two years old and under in Bethlehem and its surrounding area should be rounded up and put to death.
The anguish, agony and pain must have been horrendous as babies were stripped from their parents arms and slaughtered before their eyes. The injunction most likely carried an offer of clemency; “Give up the baby Messiah and your child lives!”
It is reasonable to assume with the public spectacle surrounding the nativity story, the identity of Jesus was common knowledge. At this point in the narrative, it appears that Mary and Joseph had moved from the manger to a house. They may have taken up residence in Bethlehem. (See Matthew 2:11)
But to everyone’s dismay; Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus had suddenly vanished. They had secretly fled to Egypt. It is probable in this night of horror that Jesus would have been betrayed by numerous parents in an effort to save their own babies.
We now have the first irony of Jesus. Had He died at the hands of Herod, many other babies would have been saved. This serves as a foretaste of His eventual mission as Savior. But His calling was to die to redeem all of humanity and not merely this localized group. Yet this tragic episode marked His life with a destiny that eventually ended on the cross.
It is not unreasonable to assume that some of these bewildered parents may have been in the crowd years later during at that fateful Passover crying out; “crucify Him!” Animosity often lingers for decades. They represented one group that may have added a passionate voice to the chorus.
Note the prophecy from Jeremiah 31:15 quoted in Matthew 2:18 stresses that, “she refused to be comforted for her children, because they were no more.” I admit this is application may be a stretch, but it is well within the realm of human nature.
Herein may be another reason why Joseph and Mary opted to settle far north in Nazareth rather than near Bethlehem upon their return from Egypt. It appears they had roots in both locations but the obscurity of Nazareth suddenly became very inviting. It allowed them to slip into community and live under the radar.
I would be remiss if I did not point out the evil bent of Herod in these verses. It is hard for me to comprehend the full scope of this atrocity. Human depravity and the evil god of this world often become willing bedfellows.
There is no limit to the potential evil in this present world. Blame must never be placed on God! It was man’s rebellion against God and constant allegiance to Satan that was and is the root cause of all corruption and suffering in the world.
When humanity runs from God it automatically runs into the arms of the devil. He feeds on death, destruction and human misery. The same holds true in every generation and for every individual.
Jesus came as light into this dark and fallen world. He indeed came to save His people from their sin. (Matthew 1:21) He is the solution and not the problem. Turning to Him in simple but sincere faith is the first step to a new life.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Flight to Egypt: Matthew 2:13-15

The Flight to Egypt: Matthew 2:13-15
“13) Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 14) So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15) He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”” Matthew‬ ‭2:13-15‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬
After the magi departed for their own country by an alternative route, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in another dream. This time the dream included a sober warning.
Herod was going to search for the child to destroy him. To save the child, Joseph was to arise from his sleep and flee to Egypt. The timing was urgent.
We now have the story of another Joseph in Egypt. It is a second story of God using Egypt to preserve life. Egypt was off limits to Herod and his wicked plans.
Ironically, it was Pharaoh in Egypt who years earlier had devised a plan very similar to Herod to put all the male children of the Jewish people to death. His plan was also aimed at destroying the linage of the Messiah.
God intervened with the birth of Moses who eventually led the captive people out of slavery from Egypt. The Exodus became a prophetic picture of the Messiah as well. Matthew 2:15 points out the prophecy from Hosea 11:1 that says; “Out of Egypt did I call My Son.” Another obscure prophecy of the Messiah was being fulfilled.
Time was of the essence. That very hour of the night, Joseph arose and took the child and his mother and fled to Egypt. They remained there until the death of king Herod.
One can now see how providential the gifts from the magi were to fund this trip. God the Father had underwritten the care of His Son and this trip to Egypt. Joseph and Mary were able to keep a low profile while in Egypt. The text indicates that they remained there for an extended time.
I believe God is providential over geography in our lives as well. He wants to be our Provider as we sojourn through this life. Like Joseph, we need to follow His leading. His will for us also includes an Exodus from our Egypt. The work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection provided for our freedom. Jesus wants to save us and set us free from slavery to sin.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Becoming a Star Witness for Jesus Christ: Matthew 2:1-12

Becoming a Star Witness for Jesus Christ: Matthew 2:1-12
“9) After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11) After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭2:9-11‬
The story of the star and the magi are unique to the Gospel of Matthew. It is not mentioned in the other three gospels. I must confess, this story intrigues me for many reasons.
I can only imagine the conversation between the magi and their wives as they packed for this journey. The first question was obvious; “So, where are you going?” That brought a blank look and a shoulder shrug. Following a star to an undisclosed location sounded rather suspicious.
But there was another question; “So, how long are you going to be gone?” That was followed by more shoulder shrugs. I also suspect their wives noticed the gold, frankincense and myrrh they packed. Let’s be honest, the whole conversation was at best awkward. There were many more questions than answers. It was packed with suspicion.
It’s the same way for every man or women who is drawn to Jesus Christ. Their whole life seems interrupted. They begin following an inner tug that is hard to explain or describe. Those close to them may think they’ve gone crazy.
I confess, I love hearing the stories of how people came to Jesus. Everyone is special. I also like being on the other side of the story. I enjoy being in the role of the star and pointing people to Jesus.
It just happens that Matthew chapter two provides helpful insights on what it takes to be a star witness for Jesus Christ. Let’s take a moment and look at seven characteristics of the star that were used to lead the magi to Jesus. These seven points give helpful insights on what it takes for you and me to be an effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.
First, the star had a heavenly perspective. They saw the star in the sky. According to Colossians 3:1-2, we need to keep seeking the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. We need to live with heavenly enthusiasm. We need to be salt and light for Jesus.
Second, the star had an earthly mission. It guided the magi from the far east all the way to Jesus. (Matthew 2:2) It provided direction. In the same way, we should provide direction for people who are seeking Jesus.
Third, the star had a royal focus. The magi came looking for the newborn king of the Jews because they saw “His star” in the East and had come to worship Him. (Matthew 2:2) We must keep in mind that they are not seeking us, they are seeking the King of kings. They didn’t come to worship the star, they came to worship the King.
Forth, the star had consistent radiance. According to the context, it guided the magi for two full years. (Matthew 2:7, 16) We need to be patient with the evangelism process. It takes time. We need to be real and continually shine for Jesus. Clouds are normal when looking at stars. Our struggles add to our witness.
Fifth, the star gave specific direction. The magi came from the far east all the way to Jerusalem. It pointed them to the new born king. According to Acts 4:11-12, Jesus is the only way to God. We need to point people to Jesus and not merely to a religion. Don’t stop short of sharing the gospel.
Sixth, the star brought them to Jesus. According to Matthew 2:9-10, they went into the house and began to worship Him. Of the billions of stars in the sky, this star pointed exclusively to Jesus. Of the millions of people on earth, this star brought them only to Jesus. The star became the divine connection between the magi and Jesus. We share the same calling. God calls us to connect people to Jesus Christ.
Finally, the star completed its mission when the magi went into the house and worshipped Jesus. (Matthew 2:11) This star is never mentioned again in the Bible. From that point onward all attention was on Jesus. Our evangelism mission is complete when people meet Jesus Christ. He becomes their sovereign Lord.
For some people this application of the star might seem like a stretch, but every Christian is called to be a witness. (See Acts 1:8) Ironically, the above seven points help clarify our mission. God wants you and me to point people to Jesus.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Careless Chief Priests and Scribes of the People: Matthew 2:3-6

The Careless Chief Priests and Scribes of the People: Matthew 2:3-6
“3) And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4)And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5) And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6) “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” Matthew‬ ‭2:3-6‬
We now come to the careless chief priests and scribes of the people. When the magi arrived with their question, they were also taken off guard. But notice, when Herod questioned them, they knew exactly where the Christ was to be born. They searched the Scriptures and came up with the correct answer about the birth location, but missed the full story of the Messiah.
They were derelict in their duty. There are around 300 prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament that foretell significant details about His birth, ministry, death and resurrection. Though they got the location of His birth correct, they became enemies during His public ministry and actively worked to bring about His crucifixion.
This illustrates the claims of Paul about Israel as recorded in 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:4. A veil remains over their minds when they read the old covenant. Satan actively blinds the minds of the unbelieving.
It is baffling how they answered Herod correctly but utterly missed the many other prophecies about the Messiah. A light was about to shine in Israel and this group worked hard to extinguish it from the onset. Their ignorance of the Scriptures and determined resistance of Jesus Christ were inexcusable.
Sadly, I believe a similar trend will accompany the end times and the second return of Christ. Many today are correctly reading the signs of the times, but many are devoid of spirit. As the bride is preparing to meet Jesus, the apostasy is also spreading quickly. Many religious leaders are walking the path of the careless chief priests and scribes of the people as recorded in Matthew chapter two.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The “Tuned In” Magi. Matthew 2:1-12

The “Tuned In” Magi. Matthew 2:1-12
“7) Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8) And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9) And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11)And they came into the house and saw the child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshipped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12) And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” Matthew‬ ‭2:7-12‬ ‭
These magi stand in stark contrast to Herod the king. They were “tuned in” to what God was doing. Approximately two years earlier, they saw a star that indicated the birth of the King of the Jews. They gathered their treasures and followed the leading of the star.
Scholars are divided over the star. Some view it as planets lining up, others point to an angel. It is not uncommon for angels to be called stars in Scripture as in Revelation 12:4.
I tend to lean toward angelic intervention because of the specific guidance to the house where the young family was staying. The star pointed to the exact house where Mary and Jesus were lodging. There was no guess work.
The trip by the magi from the Far East to Bethlehem stands out as one of the most significant short-term mission trips in the Bible. Here are twelve lessons we can learn from them.
They were “tuned in” and open to what God wanted to do through them. They were obedient to follow the leading God had given them. They understood that the star meant the King of the Jews had been born. Upon arriving in Bethlehem, they asked appropriate questions. (Vs 2) The announcement that they came prepared to worship the infant King indicates they understood His Divine nature. (Vs 2) They reported truthfully to Herod about the time the star appeared. (Vs 7) They followed the star to the exact house where Jesus and the baby were staying. (Vs 9) They rejoiced exceedingly as they continued to follow Gods leading. They found joy in serving God. ( Vs 10) They were the first to recognize and worship Jesus as the King of the Jews. (Vs 11) They presented gifts to Jesus that may have helped finance the young families flight to Egypt and eventual lodging in Nazareth. ( Vs 11 … If it’s Gods will… it’s Gods bill!) They obeyed Gods leading in a subsequent dream to return to their own country by another way without returning to Herod. (Vs 12) They completed their mission and may have helped pave the way for the eventual spread of the gospel to the east. (History tells us the Apostle Thomas carried the gospel all the way to India)
I admit; there is plenty of mystery surrounding the magi, but they illustrate how God can work through people who are “tuned in” to Him and willing to follow His leading. This is especially true today in this age of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Christians should be “tuned in” and ready to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The “Tuned Out” King. Matthew 2:1-3

The “Tuned Out” King. Matthew 2:1-3
“1) Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2) “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3) When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”Matthew‬ ‭2:1-3‬
The most significant event of human history unfolded right under his nose and he was oblivious. The King of the Jews, the Promised Messiah, the Savior of mankind was born and he and his administration missed it.
When he finally called the chief priests and scribes of of the people to consult the Scriptures, he aligned himself against God and His Divine plan. He was self focused and not God focused. He was earthly minded and not heavenly minded. Instead of protecting life, he killed all the male children in Bethlehem and all its environs in and attempt to wipe out the child.
He ended up dying a fools death. Such is the fate of all who live a self-centered life and ignore God.
Unfortunately, this is descriptive of many world leaders today. They live as if God does not exist! An even bigger event in biblical prophecy is about to unfold and they are oblivious. The stage is being set for the return of the King of kings and they are blind.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Birth of Jesus: Matthew 1:18-25

The Birth of Jesus: Matthew 1:18-25
“18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19) And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20) But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21) And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22) Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23) “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24) And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25) but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew‬ ‭1:18-25‬ ‭
True to form, Matthew records the birth of Jesus from the perspective of Joseph. They were engaged and he was busy preparing a place for his new bride. It was during this phase of their engagement that he discovered that Mary was pregnant.
His response was very natural. He assumed she had been unfaithful, so he prepared to quietly call off the wedding. According to the Law, he could have had Mary stoned. In keeping with Jewish tradition, he was likely much older than Mary. Hence the text calls him “a righteous man.” He may have been in his late twenties and well established in his trade.
It was at this point that an Angel appeared to him in a dream with Divine revelation. Mary was indeed the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:21 records another part of the revelation. He was to be named “Jesus” because He was going to save His people from their sin. The angel effectively communicated the gospel to Joseph.
Joseph then becomes an example of faith. He obeyed the word of the angel and immediately took Mary as his wife and he kept her a virgin until he gave birth to a son, and he gave him the name “Jesus.”
Though not recorded in this text, the naming of Jesus broke tradition just as the naming of John the Baptist. (See Luke 1:57-66) The eldest son should have been named after the father. It was expected for Jesus to be names “Joseph.” This was another act of humility and obedience on behalf of Joseph.
It is very difficult to assign any fault to Joseph in this context. He consistently acted according to the information he had about Mary being pregnant. It took divine intervention to change his mind. Angelic activity surrounded every stage of the life of Jesus.
The Bible becomes silent about Joseph after the brief trip to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve. (Luke 2:41-52) We do know that he was a carpenter and true to form taught his eldest son the family trade.
Most scholars assume Joseph passed away before Jesus became and adult. Jesus waited until age 30 to begin His public ministry. Most belief He became the family provider for His widowed mother and step brothers and sisters.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

History = His Story (Matthew 1:1-17)

History = His Story (Matthew 1:1-17)
The book of Matthew here records the genealogy of Joseph. Luke chapter three records the genealogy of Mary. Both place Jesus as a descendant of both Abraham and King David. Luke goes all the way back to Adam. They make the case that history is indeed the story of the Messiah.
Notice that Matthew 1:3-5 includes three gentile women in the linage of Jesus Christ. Tamar, Rahab and Ruth were all Gentiles. These three mean that Jesus represented all humanity.
The history of the entire Old Testament can be covered by studying all the men and women named in these two genealogies. The whole span of human history is represented in these two chapters. When Luke 3:34-38 are added, pre-flood people like Noah, Methuselah and Enoch are also included. Notice, from King David backward both genealogies are the same.
A serious Bible student can also see much Bible prophecy in these genealogies. Jesus was indeed the seed of the woman traced through Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, king David and the Virgin Mary. No other figure in human history past or present can fulfill these prophecies of the Messiah. History is indeed His Story.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Introduction To Matthew: Matthew 1:1

Introduction To Matthew: Matthew 1:1
“The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:” Matthew‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭
Some believe the first verse of this book was actually its original title. The early church held that the book was written by the Apostle Matthew and that eventually became the common name for this Gospel, though no place does the book itself attribute it to Matthew.
The name “Matthew” means “gift of God” in Hebrew. He was formerly a tax gather. Matthew 9:9-13 tells of his call by Jesus. Matthew 10:3 lists him as one of the twelve apostles that Jesus called. Jesus radically changed his life.
As you read the book, it becomes clear that he wrote to the Jewish mindset. He refers often to the Old Testament and sights numerous prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. His goal was to present to Israel the evidence that Jesus Christ was indeed the promised Messiah.
For the most part, the book follows a very chronological account of the birth and public ministry of Jesus. The first two chapters covers his birth and the flight of Mary and Joseph to Egypt followed by their return to Nazareth. Then chapter three picks up abruptly with the ministry of John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus.
A full harmony of the life of Jesus requires a study of all four gospels. Matthew stands out as being very logical and factual. It aimed at answering the Jewish skeptics.
I look forward to a daily study of this amazing gospel. Years ago as a teenager, I was on a Bible Quizzing team. That year we focused on the gospel of Matthew and our coach had us commit it to memory. Subsequently, this Gospel has a special place in my heart. God used it to greatly impact my life as a new believer.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Giving Thanks!

Giving Thanks!
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭
God calls us to live thankful lives. We often pray and make petitions, but seldom stop and just praise God with thanksgiving.
I have so much to be thankful for this morning. God has blessed me with a great wife and family. I have many friends. The ministry is overflowing with anointing and fruitfulness. I just returned from a productive week in Haiti. Travel connections were fantastic and I had great conversations with people.
Now it’s time for a good night of rest, a drive to Wisconsin tomorrow and a full week of ministry at Crescent Lake Bible Camp this coming week. God is so Good.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

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