Hope for our children - 20 January 2020
The LORD says, “A sound is heard in Ramah, the sound of bitter weeping. Rachel is crying for her children; they are gone, and she refuses to be comforted.
When Herod realized that the visitors from the east had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old and younger — this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared. In this way what the prophet Jeremiah had said came true:
Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and to pray for them, but the disciples scolded the people. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
This is what the Lordsays: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.Jeremiah 31:15 (NIV)
Rachel and Leah, the wives of Jacob, are recorded in Ruth 4:11 as being the matriarchs of Israel – the mothers of the nation. In our verse for the day, Rachel is personified as Israel, the bride of God weeping for her exiled son – the tribe of Ephraim.
In the Gospel of Matthew we read that this prophesy of Jeremiah was fulfilled when Herod ordered all boys of two years and under, who lived in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood, to be killed. (Matthew 2:16-17)
Nothing cuts more deeply into one’s heart and leaves one with feelings of shock and anger than when we hear of vulnerable children being callously abused and mistreated. It was with utter abhorrence one read of the one hundred and forty eight children massacred in Peshawar, Pakistan a few years ago. It was not an isolated incident in a distant land. Not much has changed since the “Massacre of the Innocents” by Herod.
Child abuse is worldwide. Innocent children are often the victims in our broken, sin-stained world.
Parents, and those to whom children are entrusted, have an onerous responsibility. They need to take every precaution to safeguard their charges. It is a duty they dare not take lightly.
Sometimes children are harmed by the very persons responsible for their care. Instead of enjoying a happy, safe environment, they find themselves in a nightmare of suffering and pain.
In a society where women had little status under Jewish Law and children none at all, Jesus made his attitude towards children very clear. “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-14)
From the cradle to the grave Jesus is the hope and refuge for all who come to him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the hope our children have in you. We pray for your protecting power over them. Keep them safe and happy, Lord. Make them ever aware of your loving kindness. This we ask in Jesus name. Amen