It is the Christmas season, all will be jolly, and all churches will be holy, for Christ is born. Christ the Son of God, the savior, the messiah, is born into the world and he will die for our sins. It is a time in Christendom for great jubilation. In Christendom this joyful event occurs annually. As the Biblical angel sang: “Glory to God, in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).Yes, this is a very jolly time for everyone, especially Christians.
All gather in churches and sing praises to God and the Christ child. In Catholic Churches Christ’s birthday is celebrated with the Mass where he undergoes his death and resurrection under the appearances of bread and wine. Then most in their homes exchange gifts with one another in resemblance of the three wise men, the magi, in the Bible who gave Baby Jesus their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:11), and eat festive holiday meals with family and friends.
All of this joy occurs by the grace of God the faithful believe, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not parish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This, supposedly simply stated, means whoever believes in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, lives forever. This is why he was born, in essence the meaning of Christmas. God wanted the incarnation of his Son; it was God’s wish and plan. Since God wanted his Son to be born Christians are joyfully thankful. In their jubilation they conveniently forget there was a price.
This price was the blood of Christmas, the blood of innocent children. According to the Christmas story prior to visiting Mary and Joseph in the stable where the magi presented their gifts to the Christ child, they had gone to King Herod, ruler of Judea, seeking the location of the child whom was declared to be born King of the Jews. At first Herod did not know so he consulted his chief priests and scribes of the people. After demanding to know where the child was to be born, the location was Bethlehem of Judea, for it was written by the prophet: And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, for you are the least among the princes of Judah; out of you shall come a Governor that shall rule my people, Israel.
When hearing this Herod hurriedly called the magi to meet with him; he earnestly asked when the star appeared. Satisfied with their answer, he told them to go to Bethlehem and search him. After finding the child, they were to return and tell him so he might too go and worship the child (Matt. 2:1-8).
As those familiar with the story know the magi went to Bethlehem and found the child, but on their return were warned in a dream by God not to return to Herod, but to return to their country another way (Matt. 2:9-11). When the magi did not return Herod felt betrayed and grew very angry. He and his council were troubled. In desperation he sent men with orders to kill all children that were in Bethlehem and its boarders at the time of his diligent questioning of the magi.
This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah: In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not (Matt. 2:16-18).
God wanted his Son born and he wanted him kept alive at any price so he might have him killed some thirty-three years later. The price was the slaying of innocent children. This was God’s plan, no Christian denies it, and the prophecy of Jeremiah confirms it. This article does not intend to debate the attributes of God, Christians describe him as omniscient and omnipresent, so these divine traits will be accepted; therefore, it must also be accepted that God always knew that the children would be slain, and Jeremiah’s prophecy confirms if one accepts that the prophecy was inspired by God or is the word of God as some fundamentalist Christians do. God knew that when the magi were warned in the dream not to return to Herod that the slaying of the children was inevitable because he also knew what Herod’s reaction would be.
But, many will scream, God did this to save the child Christ. This, as the story is told, is obvious, however, the question remains, was this the only way the child could have been saved, or was it the way God wanted him saved. Christians also describe God as almighty, he can do all things; if so, then God had other alternatives. One would have been not to have them go to Herod but be guided directly to Bethlehem by the star. According to the Bible this finally occurred: When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy (Matt. 2:9-10). There they found the child and his mother and fell down to worship him.
The last two quoted verses are misleading. One would think that they only saw the star after departed from seeing Herod; however, verse 7 states “Then Herod, when he had (privately) called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.” This indicates they had seen the star before meeting with Herod. The magi, or wise men, are said to have come the east, and are assumed to be astronomers or astrologers, men who had studied the stars. Herod indicated his knowledge of their profession when diligently asked them when the star first appeared.
It is assumed that these men had followed the star as they journeyed from the east, it led them to Judea. The question arises that if these men had followed the star this far, why did they not continue to follow it to Bethlehem instead of consulting Herod. Verse 9, above, gives a partial answer: “When they heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” It would appear that when in their homeland in the east they had first seen the star which they know signaled Christ’s birth. But for some reason when approaching or reaching Judea they were not able to see the star which necessitated their consulting Herod. The reason the star became invisible to them is mysterious, but according the Biblical narration it appears to have done so. And, as previously stated, it necessitated consulting Herod. One might suspect their reasoning was that since Herod was ruler of Judea he should know what occurred within his land, and it was only proper they should ask him first.
This is sufficient reason why the magi met with Herod; the significance of the star they had been following, its invisibility, and his kingship. Its invisibility was pivotal, however, if it had not been for that the magi probably would have journeyed straight to Bethlehem without consulting Herod. But, the star mysteriously disappeared. One, seemingly proper, speculatively answer is that the star’s invisibility was the work of God. This also coincides with the premise: God wanted Jesus born, kept safe, and the prophecy of Jeremiah fulfilled.
God did keep his son safe: And when they were departed, behold and angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt; and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt. And was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt I have called my son (Matt. 2:13-15).
Again one sees this was planned by God. In the dream Joseph was told that Herod would seek to destroy the child, indicating that God knew what Herod would do; so they were to flee to Egypt, stay there until told to return so Hosea’s prophecy would be fulfilled. Once again a prophecy confirms God’s foreknowledge. From this one sees God had no intension of letting Herod die before or when Christ was born; God dismissed that alternative. Neither did he choose to change Herod’s heart; Herod’s fear that another ruler would usurp him fully persuaded his decision to order the killing of all Bethlehem children of two and under. God passively let this happened.
The slaughter of the children is not described in Matthew 2:16, but one does not have to use much imagination if he is familiar with the Old Testament for this is not the first Biblical killing of innocent children that God allowed. Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. And the Lord our God delivered him before us, and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones of every city; we left none to remain. (Deuteronomy 2:32-34). Another time that God destroyed his enemies: Thus say the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spear them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass (1 Samuel 15:2-3).
Here one sees the Lord our God and/or Lord of hosts literally and completely destroys his enemies, those who do not abide by his will or harm his people. The above are just two incidences, but there are many more in the Old Testament. By some very sanctimonious reasoning some might say the Lord God was justified for such action toward his enemies; however, a humane person finds it hard to see how infant children could be enemies of God, but one must justify this by saying their slaying was punishment to the enemy of the God.
However, as far as one knows, the children two and under of Bethlehem were not children of any enemy of God, if anything, they just happened to be born at the wrong time. Just imagine what the incident must have been like. Herod’s men, shoulders, marching into the town with arms, knocking on or knocking in doors, demanding to know if children were there, perhaps inquiring how old they were, those looking the right age were slain immediately before their mother’s and perhaps, father’s eyes; others being grabbed from their mother’s breast and slain, while others were probably slain while they played in streets. This, no doubt, was a horrifying experience for the mothers and others. Once it got going who knows whether the age was asked, the shoulders caught up in the frenzy might have just started killing kids, three, four, or five.
Question, did these mothers, fathers, and relatives of the murdered children feel the peace on earth toward men of good will that the angel of the Lord promised when Jesus was born? One almost knows for certain they did not. Are far as one knows most were ordinary people of good will. They most likely horrified, hurt, angry, saddened, and confused, asking how their God could permit such a thing to happen, and justly do.
And, there is the question of the murdered children what became of them? Jesus is said to have came to die the sins of mankind, and she shall bring forth a son, thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people (Matt. 1:21); where these children among those saved? Or do they not meet the requirement, neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, were by we must be saved (Acts 4:12). These children did not know Jesus, they just died for him. One can believe Catholicism, they were without sin, but not baptized, so they enter Limbo, a spiritual state of eternal happiness but will never see the face of God.
But this fails to support Christ later words to his disciples: And [he] said, verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3). Jesus spoke this after his disciples had asked him who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven; and he had introduced a child into their midst. After saying the above Jesus added, Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whosoever receives one such little child receives me. But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones who believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matt. 18:4-6).
Here Jesus placed full emphasis on children, saying they are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, whoever humbles himself like a child will be equal to them in the heavenly kingdom, and whoever receives them receives him, but whoever offends them it would be better if he drowned at sea. So children were top priority with Jesus. And, he did not specify baptized children.
This, however, poses a question when Jesus places so much emphasis on children and also speaks of the heavenly Father as the provider for them: Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they? No, Jesus does not specifically say the heavenly Father provides for children, but the implication is there if he provides for adults, their parents. If Jesus was aware of the murder of innocent children after his birth, then how can he in good conscience in the Sermon on the Mount assure people their Father in heaven will care for them? As far as it is known both populations were mostly Jewish. One who believes in a loving Jesus could practically be expected to seriously doubt that he was aware of the terrible events after his birth. But this question begs some serious thought and answers which are beyond the scope of this article.
However, one question must be asked, would such an incident as described above be allowed to happened today. It does happen, that is known. That is why there is such an outcry when innocent children are killed today in Iraq, Palestine, and Israel. There are world organizations with humane laws against it. Leaders in countries found guilty of such practices are legally tried, convicted, and executed. But in the Christian countries of the world Christians accept such actions from their God usually without even a thought.
This is partly the answer as to why such evil still exists. Most Christians do not question their God or the tenets that they believe; they are taught not to, that it is sacrilegious. Most are taught it is sinful to question the divine providence of God, his divine plan, justified by saying God works in mysterious ways. Therefore, the faithful just accept the good and the bad, conveniently ignoring the bad. Their God is a loving father even though he allowed the innocent children to be slaughtered by Herod in order to protect his begotten son Jesus; this is the joy of Christmas. The promise of peace on earth to men of good will was not felt by the parents and relatives of those children just as it is not felt today. But the ritual of Christmas continues, although it is mostly hallow, people like it.
The ritual continues because it is ingrained into the personal and national psychic of western civilization; that the promise of peace on earth has never been achieved does not matter. This can also be said concerning the behavior of the Judeo-Christian God and Christianity itself. To the most faithful their religion has became an accepted way of life; the not so faithful, they accept what they can and partially ignore the rest. They believe this is a sin, but Jesus died for their sins, so it will be forgiven. This is the prime motivation for Christianity, personal salvation, going to heaven. The foundation of Christianity is personal guilt of sin and the fear of going to eternal hell. That is why the day following Christmas and the Monday after Easter people are once again told you still need to follow the Ten Commandments, if you do not do this or do that, you can go to hell. If the joy of Christmas and Easter resonates from the assurance that Jesus died for sins of people, then the fear of not obeying the Commandments should no longer be needed; the committed sins have been erased, if people are kept from committing the sins, then Jesus died for something more than was required. If the fear of sin was no longer present, then Christianity should be a joyous religion, not a string of rules which many feel compelled to follow. Even Jesus is supposed to have said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Anyone that has known true love knows that the lover never puts demands on the beloved, one does not have to because the beloved wants to please the lover. Joys of Christianity are short-lived.
The behavior of their God is ingrained in the Christian psychic, especially that of Christian national leaders. God allows his enemies to be punished, defeated. Therefore, one must defeat his enemies, those not believing the same way. This does not only apply to Christians but to Muslims as well, those who call anyone not of their faith, those not believing like they do, infidels. This in itself indicates why there is no peace on earth; why stronger countries attack weaker ones. The same principle, we must defeat our enemy, in essence, is still being followed. No one dares question their own belief system. It is easier to justify the system and blame the people for not following it. But would it be such a sacrilegious act to ask since Christianity has not work in promoting a peaceful world for some 2,000 years, isn’t it time to try something else? The global future may depend on it.
by Alan G. Hefner
Footnotes: All Biblical references are from Holy Bible, New Scofield Reference Edition, New York, Oxford Press, 1969, unless otherwise noted, noted for reference as Scofield Reference Bible (SRB).
 The term “Wise men” is derived from Greek magoi, a Persian word meaning men expert in study of the stars, SRB 993f2. The number of wise is assumed to be three since they gave the Child three gifts, “Magi.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Chicago, Moody Press, p. 679.
 In some scriptures this reads “all boys,” such as The New American Bible for Catholics, while other versions say all children. One wonders weather Herod thought the magi might have been mistaken about the gender of the child and was taking no chances when ordering all children killed.
 SRB, Ibid.
 Hosea 11:1: When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
 Limbo, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09256a.htm>