Bible Prophecy Fulfilled (Part 3): The Christmas Murders

The story of the wise men being guided by a heavenly star, to the house where Jesus resided has been a key element of many a Christmas play.    What has not been talked about very often is how this little piece of razzle-dazzle got a bunch of kids murdered.  Yep.  This is one of those not-infrequent moments in the Bible which makes a person (of even average intelligence) face palm and say “Really God?  Really?  This was the best you could come up with?”
In Matthew chapter 2, wise men (in the Greek, magi, derived from magus - a Zoroastrian priest) are led to Jerusalem by a star.  Unfortunately, at this point, God’s GPS apparently stops working because they have to stop and ask for directions from King Herod.  Not to worry though – as we soon will see, this was all part of the plan.  Herod, upon hearing that the King of the Jews has been born, consults with the Jewish scholars and priests, and comes up with Bethlehem as the foretold birthplace.  He slyly tells the wise men to go find this royal baby, and then report back to him so he can ‘worship’ the child. 

Amazingly, as they set out for Bethlehem, the star-GPS reboots, and leads them directly to the house where Jesus and his family are living.  Now I know that you probably have a number of questions at this point:  Why didn’t God have the star guide them directly to Bethlehem, thus not alerting Herod?  Do men really stop and ask for directions (perhaps that is why they were called “wise”)?   Why didn’t Herod send some of his men to accompany the wise men if he was so interested in finding the child’s location?  How can a star lead people, much less indicate a specific house?  Did this star flit around like Tinkerbell?

 Okay, you need to just settle down.  This is a Bible story, which means that magical things can happen.  Logic and reason are not required.

So, the wise men meet young Jesus and do their thing.  Being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they take a different highway home.  An angel in a dream warns Joseph that Herod has baby-killing on his mind, and that they should take a long vacation in Egypt.  When the wise men are a no-show, Herod is pissed, and sends soldiers to murder all boys, two years and under, in the Bethlehem and the surrounding region.

God could have arranged things so that Herod never found out, and thus saved the lives of all those boys.  So why did the Bible’s god orchestrate this whole elaborate chain of events?  To fulfill prophecy, of course!  Kids had to die so that one day, Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel have some amazing Bible ‘proofs’ to crow about.  Matthew’s version of the Christmas story reveals a god who uses children as pawns; stage props to create a bit of drama in the life of Jesus.  Such amazing… heartlessness.
Fortunately, Matthew’s story of Christmas magic and mayhem most likely never happened.  For one thing, the historian Josephus details many misdeeds of Herod, but the mass murder of children is not one of them.

For another, there are several fraudulent claims of fulfilled prophecy in this chapter.  Let us briefly consider them:
“They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” (Matt. 2:5-6)
This ‘prophecy’ is found in Micah chapter 5.  I encourage you to look it up and read it in context, because the writer of Matthew regularly takes verses out of context in order to claim fulfilled prophecy.  Micah is talking about a time of war, and in verses 4- 6, it says that this ruler which arises will lead a fight against the Assyrians and defeat them with swords.  Definitely not talking about Jesus, so why does Matthew claim it is?

And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt
  and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matt. 2:14-15)
This ‘prophecy’ is from Hosea 11:1.  First of all, Jesus is heading into Egypt, not out of it.  Secondly, the verse is completely taken out context.  Hosea identifies the child as Israel (which Matthew omits) and is talking about Israel leaving captivity in Egypt.  Thirdly, the chapter talks about this ‘son’ worshiping false gods and going into captivity by the Assyrians.  Definitely not talking about Jesus.  The passage is talking about past history, not making a future prediction.  Don’t take my word for it - read it for yourself.
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”  (Matt. 2:16-18)
This ‘prophecy’ is quoted from Jeremiah 31:5.  In context, it is not talking about dead children.  It is talking about children held in captivity to Babylon, and in the verse 17, it goes on to say “There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country.”  Once again, we see the author of Matthew deceitfully fabricating a ‘fulfilled prophecy’.
The final ‘prophecy’:
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.   But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.  And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. (Matthew 2:19-23)
Contrary to Luke’s claim that they lived in Nazareth before travelling to Bethlehem, Matthew has Joseph moving his family to Nazareth, only because they are too scared to live in Judea.  Matthew’s author claims this to be prophecy fulfilled.  One small problem: there is no such prophecy in the Jewish scriptures.  At this point, there is not even the pretense of trying to correlate with the Hebrew Bible.  The gospel's writer seems to not be worried that his readers will fact-check his claim.  
Christian apologists love to talk about fulfilled prophecy as proof of the Bible’s authenticity, and Jesus’ messianic identity.  As you can see from this train wreck in Matthew chapter two, what it actually proves is that the authors of the Bible were manipulators with an agenda.
If you are a Christian reading this and you care about truth, I encourage you to look up all of these passages and see if what I am saying is correct.  Ask yourself if what you are following is really truth, or merely tales devised by men.  You can try to block this article out of your mind, but every time Christmas rolls around, I hope you will remember murdered boys and false prophecies.  I hope that one day reason will be the guiding star which leads you to truth and freedom.

Written by J. M. Green

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