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Discussions and questions pertaining to Christmas: when and where was Jesus born? The Shepherds, the Wise men, the descent into Egypt, the star, the manger, and the Virgin Birth. Let's talk.

Re: Matthew 2:16 and Herod's slaughter

Postby Not my real name » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:28 pm

I understand what you're saying, and this does seen like the regular problem of evil/suffering debate responses that we often see here; your response I would consider at a minimum theologically sound. There's a difference in the posted question that I believe sets it apart from the average. This isn't "why did little Johnny get cancer and god not heal him?" This is "why did god's direct actions in this particular case get innocent children killed for seemingly no reason?" That is, if you consider this actual history. Ultimately why were there signs for the magi? This did nothing but cause death in exchange for a bit of frankincense. The magi played seemingly no other role.
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Re: Matthew 2:16 and Herod's slaughter

Postby jimwalton » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:48 pm

Thanks for the clarification. Let me address that specifically. God's DIRECT action in this particular case didn't get innocent children killed. God's only DIRECT action in this particular case was astronomical signs. The magi chose to come, which was the intent. They chose to stop at Jerusalem, not necessarily God's intent, and certainly not his doing. They chose to speak to Herod, not necessarily God's intent, and certainly not his doing. Herod chose to go on a murderous tirade, certainly not God's intent nor his doing.

Maybe what you're asking is, "Why was God passive when he should have been active in intervening on behalf of all the halflings of Bethlehem?" but that's a different question, to which I responded above. But God did not do any actively DIRECT actions in this particular case that got innocent children killed. You're accusing God (or the posted question did) of DIRECT (and therefore ACTIVE) malice, which is a false conclusion from the story as it is told.

Do I consider this actual history? Yes I do. Magi are known to have done such things in other cases. Seneca (Epistle 58) tells of magi who came to Athens with sacrifices to Plato after his death. Cicero (De Divin. i.47) refers to the constellation from which, on the birth night of Alexander the Great, magi foretold that the destroyer of Asia is born. It not unlikely that magi would respond to a star sign by traveling to pay homage. They didn't completely know where they were going or who they were going to see, only that they saw something in the stars that told them a king of great significance was born, and the sign told them he was Jewish.

> Why were there signs for the magi? This did nothing but cause death in exchange for a bit of frankincense. What was the role of the magi?

- Matthew is going to emphasize the inclusion of Gentiles in the salvation Jesus will provide The very first characters to appear in his narrative are Gentiles.
- The magi come from the land of the deportation (Babylon), about which Matthew has made several references in the genealogy,identifying Babylon as a significant milestone in God's preparation of his people for the coming Messiah. What better marker than magi from Babylon itself?
- The attitudes, speech, and actions are full of theological foreknowledge for what is coming in the text: The king of the Jews has arrived, and he is a baby, and he deserves worship.
- Their attitudes and actions serve a stunning contrast to the Jewish (God's chosen) people. The Gentiles seek the king, bow to him, and give him gifts for royalty. The Jews don't tag along (no seeking, no bowing) and just want to give him a sword through the gut.
- They fulfill the prophecy of Isa. 9.1-2. They symbolize the nations streaming to the messiah, a common theme of OT prophecy.
- In the magi & Herod we are introduced to two common responses to Jesus that are determinants of eternity: Do you love him, or despise him? Are you going to bow to him or be hostile to him?

Hope that helps.
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Re: Matthew 2:16 and Herod's slaughter

Postby Not my real name » Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:53 pm

Thank you for your time and thorough answers.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:53 pm.
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