With Gaza brought into the news by the terrible terrorist attacks, I wanted to see whether Jesus carried out any of his ministry in that part of the Holy Land. I checked the map of the 1st century holy land and realized that most of his ministry was north of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. With that in mind, I checked the current map of Israel and focused on the southwest Gaza area which borders Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea when suddenly it dawned on me…’the flight to Egypt’.
After Herod ordered the massacre of the innocents, Joseph was warned by an angel, in a dream, to take Mary and the baby to Egypt. The route that they would have taken would have gone along the Mediterranean coast, right through modern day Gaza. The holy family passed from the north to the south of Gaza there where the bombs and missiles are currently falling. Jesus traveled past the site of the music festival where the Hamas terrorists came down from the sky on hang gliders.
Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Gaza and through Gaza to Egypt which was a sort of reversal of the Exodus story. Moses led the Jews out of Egypt to escape death as they fled the evil pharaoh and his charioteers.
If we go even further back to the book of Exodus we see Moses as a baby who was also targeted for death by the pharaoh. He was sent down the Nile in a basket to avoid the original biblical slaughter of the innocents. Babies in Egypt were slaughtered by men with weapons followed by wailing and loud lamentation.
The reason the holy family fled Bethlehem was because an evil king wanted to kill the baby. King Herod, an evil paranoid madman, ordered the massacre of the innocents. Babies in Bethlehem were slaughtered by men with weapons followed by wailing and loud lamentation. Those Bethlehem babies were regarded by the early church as the first martyrs and their feast day is celebrated on December 28.
Leaders of Hamas ordered the massacre of innocent civilians icluding women and infants. At least 40 babies were killed. “It’s not a war,” General Itai Veruv, head of the IDF’s Depth Command, told reporters. “It’s not a battlefield. You see the babies, the mothers, the fathers in their bedrooms, in their protection rooms, and how the terrorists kill them. It’s not a war… it’s a massacre.” Babies in Israel were slaughtered by men with weapons followed by wailing and loud lamentation. Horrific pictures and videos were shown by the leaders of Israel to other world leaders. Rumors of babies being beheaded have not yet been confirmed but pictures released by Israel show that little baby corpses were burnt and bloodied.
In the Bible the shedding of innocent blood began with the sons of Adam and Eve when Cain killed Abel. Abel’s blood mysteriously cried out to God,
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Gen 4:10).
There’s spiritual power that is released when innocent or sinless victims are slaughtered. God hears the cries that follow. God will especially hear the cry of the mother for her dead child,
‘A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’(Mt 2:18).
Rachel was Jacob’s wife, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. She is described as lamenting her future descendants. Her story shows that a mother’s loss of her baby is timeless, it never ends. It never gets fixed. In her own life she grieved when later the children were ruthlessly murdered in the area of Bethlehem where she died. Her ancient cry echoes through time. It mingles with the cry from the hearts of the childless mothers on their knees now in the same land where the holy family passed through.
As Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus narrowly escaped the infuriated madman, the quickened steps of their donkey were drowned out by the cries of mothers in Bethlehem. Those cries are timeless too but so is the resurrected Jesus. The baby Jesus heard their wailing and loud lamentation then and most assuredly he hears their cries now. Jesus returned to the Holy Land and brought consolation and hope to those grieving by reversing the effects of death in his resurrection. Consolation and hope are needed again.
When we see attacks on babies we know we are dealing with the diabolical. It seems like another uptick in the spiritual war. So we pray...
May our Lord bless the parents and families who are suffering loss through this time of violence. May God have mercy on the children, babies and all innocents on both sides of this conflict, who through no fault of their own, are caught up in this mess. May he erradicate murderous anger and evil from all of our hearts. Amen.