Advent Devotion for December 28
In lighting the candle, the candle lighter says: “Rachel weeps for her children.”
SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 31:15
15 This is what the Lord says:
“A cry is heard in Ramah—
deep anguish and bitter weeping.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted—
for her children are gone.”
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 2:16-18
16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A cry was heard in Ramah—
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead.”
SOME THOUGHTS: This is a most unsettling account of evil in action. We are horrified at the thought of killing innocent children with little or no protection because a ruler is paranoid and deranged. (Yet our present day society is completely accepting of the killing of millions of unborn babies.) Herod also killed his wife and one of his own sons which led to the saying, “It is safer to be Herod’s pig, than his son.” Herod, a renegade Jew, kept the kosher laws. The prophet Jeremiah wrote about Rachel weeping for her children who have died. Some context may help us to better understand this passage. Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Benjamin’s descendants later became one of the tribes of the Southern Kingdom. Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh were of prominent tribes of the Northern Kingdom. In a sense, Rachel represented the whole nation of Israel as it was carried off into exile, hence the phrase of “Rachel weeping for her children.” It should also be noted that she died giving birth to Benjamin on the way to Bethlehem! Jesus was born into a world of hate, violence, and evil. Mary and Joseph were under great stress from the very start, yet faithfully followed the voice of the Lord as they raised Jesus and the rest of their children. The comfort in all of this is that Jesus knows from first-hand experience everything we deal with. We dare not romanticize the circumstance of his birth and early days on earth. He lived as a refugee in a foreign land. You may have heard of The Feast of the Holy Innocence on December 28. It is a commemoration of this most difficult event.
MUSIC: "The Coventry Carol"
- Charlotte Church (YouTube)
- The King Singers (YouTube) This setting captures the horror of the event. Worth listening to, but not easy to listen to. It helps bring to reality the events of Jesus’ early days.
PRAYER: Our kind and gracious heavenly Father, we praise you for the tender, steadfast love with which you comfort your troubled children. We do pray for those who face persecution and great danger this day. We pray for those who are trapped in fear and afraid for their lives. We pray for evil ones who wield power and seek to inflict pain on others. We pray for those with dead consciences and hard hearts. We pray for those who reject your authority in their lives. We pray for conviction of conscience and repentance of heart. Lord, our world is deeply flawed and filled with rebellion against you. Forgive us for the sins we have committed, especially against children and those waiting to be born, and for the rampant narcissism. Bring healing and revival to our land. In the name of our Savior, Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem. Amen. — Dan Sharp