Jesus Took The Lash

“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 passage is Jeremiah 31:15. It was directly referenced by the Gospel writer Matthew in chapter 2, verse 18. Starting in verse 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. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

“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.”

“Herod the Great” was the king, appointed under Roman rule, in Judah. He knew the prophecies concerning a messiah being born, a King of the Jews. He was visited by men from the East, men of great learning who followed a star to find this King. Herod lied to the men, telling them he also wanted to worship this King, but in fact wanted to kill him. When the wise men were warned supernaturally by an angel, they avoided Jerusalem on their way home.

Many Christians know this Bible story. The rest of the story is that Joseph was told by an angel in a dream to escape to Egypt because Herod sought to kill Jesus. Herod murdered every child two years old and younger from Ramah in the north to Bethlehem in the south.

Herod was very worried about a backlash from Judeans who followed this king, and died with that worry. His rule was then divided into three, a tetrarchy ruled by Archelaus in Samaria and Judea, Herod Antipas in Galilee and Peraea, and Philip in territories east of the Jordan. When Pilate sought to pass on the responsibility of judging Jesus after his arrest, he sent him to Antipas, since Jesus was a Galilean. Antipas sent Jesus right back.

Pilate and Antipas were both worried about a backlash after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of the foal of a donkey to chants of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

But before there was a backlash, there was a lash. Herod’s act to snuff out the toddler Messiah is known as “the slaughter of the innocents.” It should be very familiar to anyone who follows what’s going on in the world today.

Terrorism. War in Syria. ISIS. Children being killed. And Muslims in Germany are worried about a backlash after a refugee from Sudan barreled into a Christmas market in a Scania truck, then fled to Italy where he will killed by police. But what about the lash?

Today, prophetically, both Ramah and Bethlehem are under Palestinian rule. Ramah is known as Pisgat Ze’ev, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. It’s one of the areas where the UN Security Council thinks Israelis should not try to build any homes. Bethlehem is a place where Muslims and Christians coexist, but Israelis are not allowed.

Israelis are also barred from the site of Herod’s Temple, which was the site of Solomon’s Temple, where the Ark of the Covenant once stood. It’s the “Holy of Holies” that was shaken by an earthquake when Jesus died on the cross. It’s the place where the “veil of the Temple split from top to bottom” in Matthew 28. Now the Dome of the Rock stands in its place, and Jews are confined to the Western Wall (also known as the “Wailing Wall”)–the retaining wall of Herod’s Temple Mount.

Think of it this way. If the Temple was AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play, the Wailing Wall would be somewhere in the parking lot outside the ticket booth. You couldn’t even see the game from it. And under the latest shameful UN resolution, even the Wailing Wall may not be properly Israeli.

Current events are not outside of God’s knowledge or control. He brought the Savior of the World into this world through the lash, and brought Him out of this world through the lash.

One Islamic scholar–a Christian missionary–I know told me that a Muslim said to him that he understood that God could come into the world as a baby, because with God, anything is possible. But he asked, why would God do that? That’s the whole question of Christmas, isn’t it?

God did this so that He could know us personally. Jesus came to suffer by the lash, and die by the cross, taking the sins of the entire world on Himself, so that those who He knows personally, who trust Him to know our deepest selves, can enter His Kingdom through our weakness.

He suffered the lash so that we could avoid the backlash. The backlash, be assured, is coming.

In Luke 2:14, the host of angels sung:

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

The Peace is His peace. The goodwill is in Christ. Our goodness cannot save us from the backlash. But He was born to take the lash.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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