Updated: Feb 17, 2020
The power of human rebellion can seem unstoppable. Christmas provides encouragement that there’s more to the story. Matthew 2:1-12 preserves the account of the Magi’s visit to Jesus after his birth. They arrive in Jerusalem, and begin to ask, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” Dr. Leon Morris points out that He wasn’t born to be the King. He was born the King.
Christmas Means God Fulfills His Purposes
The only information Matthew gives to explain how the Magi came asking for the King of the Jews comes in verse 2. They saw his star when it rose, and they have come to worship him. These Gentile Magi know about the birth of the King of the Jews because God the Father used stars. He used them to lead men who studied the stars to His Son. Because this entourage from the east came seeking the King of the Jews, Herod was troubled.
In verse 4 Matthew says he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people. He wanted to know where the Christ would be born. They tell him, and in verse 7, he summoned the Magi. He wanted to know from them exactly when the star appeared. It would be his insurance if for any reason they failed. He sent them to search for this so-called king. He convinced them that he, too, wanted to pay his respects. He told them to send word when they found him.
Christmas Means God Fulfills His Purposes in the Midst of Opposition
The Magi find the child. In verse 12, however, we learn that they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. So they departed to their own country by another way. The word translated “warned” in verse 12 is verb often used to indicate a divine utterance. The passive, then, conveys that the Lord warned them. He prevented Herod from carrying out his plan to find the child. As Matthew’s next section indicates, Herod’s aim was to eliminate the child rival. The Father preserved His Son from Herod’s violent designs.
Dr. Bryan Chapell recounts a trip that the the first century Jewish teacher, Rabbi Akiba, is said to have taken. He traveled to a strange country. He took with him three possessions: a donkey, a rooster, and a lamp. He stopped at night in a village where he hoped to find lodging. However, the people there drove him out, and he was forced to spend the night in a nearby forest. The rabbi was known for bearing all pains with ease. He was always heard to say, “All that God does is done well.”
He found a tree under which to rest. He lit his lamp, and prepared to study the Torah before going to sleep. Just then a fierce wind began to whip. It blew out the flame. He had no choice but to rest. Later that night while he was sleeping wild animals came and chased away his rooster. Still later thieves passed by and stole his donkey. The Rabbi simply responded by saying, “All that God does is done well.”
The next morning he returned to the village where he had stopped the night before. He learned that enemy soldiers had come by night, killing everyone in their beds. Had he been permitted to stay, he would have been killed. He learned also that the raiding party had traveled through the same part of the forest where he slept. If they had seen the light of his lamp, if the rooster had crowed, or if the donkey had brayed, he would have been killed. How did the rabbi respond? As he always did, by saying, “All that God does is done well.”
Christmas Means We Can Trust God to Fulfill His Purposes
Human rebellion may seem unstoppable. We often won’t understand why bad things happen. But this account shows that God is there, and He is sovereign. He tolerates human evil for the time being. But such is His sovereignty that it never thwarts His purposes. Human rebellion is all too real. It’s ugly, painful and more destructive than we realize. But it isn’t the end of the story. The Lord is more powerful than our rebellion. We need to remember that when we consider history. We need to remember it, especially, as we battle sin in our own lives. The Lord continues to work out His purpose in the midst of human rebellion. All that God does is done well.