21st December 2012

Hope For The Innocent

“When Herod realised he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.”
Matthew 2:16 (NIV UK)

It was only a week ago when a deranged gunman killed twenty children and six adults in a primary school in Connecticut. At the same time reports were coming in from a town in central China where a knife-wielding man injured twenty-two children and an elderly woman by stabbing them. These events move us to tears, and together through prayer we participate in God’s love and compassion for everyone affected.

We don’t always know the motives for such violence and aggression. Are the perpetrators mentally unstable, angry beyond self-control, or overcome by evil? Maybe it is a mixture of different factors. In the passage above Herod was threatened by the birth of Jesus Christ, and, presumably unwittingly, identified with Satan’s desire to destroy Mary’s child “the moment it was born” (Revelation 12:4).

What is the spiritual fate of all those innocent children? Not just them, but we can think of other tragedies such as last year on Utoya island in Norway, Dunblane in Scotland in 1996, the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004, Srebrenica in 1993, Finland in 2009, Virginia Tech in 2007, Columbine High School in 1999, and Erfurt in Germany in 2002. What about all the children caught up in the famine in eastern Africa? And those killed in the Syrian conflict? Or the 2.5 million child victims of the Holocaust? And all the children slaughtered during planned ethnic cleansings such as happened in Rwanda in 1994? This is to name but a few in relatively modern times. If we delve into history it just gets worse. Or, perhaps, closer to home for each of us, what about our family members who die in infancy?

Where have all the innocent children gone? Biblically speaking, they join all of us in the same hope of the dead. The child Jesus, declared the Saviour of the world from birth, grew up to reconcile all of us to God through his death on the cross. We have all been declared innocent in Christ Jesus, not having our sins counted against us (1 Corinthians 5:19), and have become heirs of the promises of God.

The Bible suggests that Jesus holds us close to him after our death. Isaiah 40 is a well-known chapter among Christian circles. In it God is compared to a Shepherd who cares for all his lambs. It says, “he gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them close to his heart” (v.11). I like to think that is where the children are. Jesus carries them close to his heart. He holds them near.

Jesus, the child born for us, crucified and raised from the dead, the soon-coming King of Kings, is our only hope. He is the living hope for all the children, indeed for the whole world.

Father, comfort those who weep, and thank you that those who die are safe with you and in your divine purpose for all of humanity.  In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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One Response to “21st December 2012”

  1. Ian Woodley on December 21st, 2012 10:00 pm

    Thank you James for this message. Like the article you wrote last year on the terrible shooting in Norway, you draw our hearts & minds back to to the Living Hope that Jesus provides for us. I’d never thought of Isaiah 40 verse 11 in that way before; such a beautiful and inspiring image. In the face of such dreadful events, this is very encouraging.
    Kind Regards

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