The Ignorant King (Matthew 2:1-8)
Tammy came to work with me on the 14th-she worked on Christmas baskets while I worked on sermons. I saw something come across Twitter about a possible school shooting in Connecticut. I didn’t pay much attention to it because there have been a lot of false alarms over the past several years. We had to go to Kroger when we left here to pick a few things up, and while there I received a Fox News alert on my phone. But, it was only when we got home and turned on the TV that we saw how horrific the events were. Twenty-six people dead in all. Twenty of those were children-an entire kindergarten class was unaccounted for.
Tammy and I both cried sitting there watching the news. It was far too much. Both of us walked down the hill to get our kids off the bus. If I’m home when the boys get home, I don’t walk out to get them off the bus. But, on that day, I surely did!
I know from talking to many of you, the events in Newtown, Connecticut have severely affected you. It’s heartbreaking beyond description to see innocent life so brutally snuffed out. It’s gut wrenching to see the video of parents immediately after they learned their children weren’t coming home.
The question this nation wants answered is, “Why?” Why would Adam Lanza commit such an atrocity? America is asking many questions: How do we keep such events from happening again? Do we pass tougher gun laws? What do we do about violent video games? Is it time we get serious about caring for the mentally ill?
I don’t wish to be overly simplistic this morning, but the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School occurred because there is real evil in this world. I believe with all of my heart that the presence of evil in this world testifies to the need to share the Gospel with everyone we can. How might the events in Connecticut have been different if Adam Lanza had known the Prince of Peace?
But, evil has been in this world a long time. In fact, when the Prince of Peace entered this world, evil came to Bethlehem. Herod the Great sent men to kill all the male children two and under in Bethlehem and that vicinity. Matthew 2:16-18. What would possess Herod to act with such brutality? We could answer by saying the love of power, pride, desire for the riches of a king, and we could go on and on.
But, in this morning’s text, we find a partial answer for Herod’s evil: Herod did not know Scripture. An ignorance of Scripture is so very dangerous. “How from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15); the implication is clear: If I don’t know the Scriptures, I cannot know how to have salvation. “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Rev 1:3). If I don’t know the Word, I cannot be blessed.
Our text teaches: “Ignorance of Scripture leads to disaster.”
Text (Matthew 2:1-8)
Wise men from the east come to Jerusalem. “Magi” is the better translation. These were astrologers who worked for kings; they would watch the sky for omens and report to the king their findings.They ask, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” The way they word the question is going to trouble Herod. Herod was made a king of the Jews; he wasn’t born one. A king who had been born king would likely have a stronger claim to the throne than Herod.
Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him.I find it interesting that all Jerusalem is troubled along with Herod. Herod had a long history of atrocities.
- He became enraged with his favorite wife, so he had her strangled.
- He executed two sons and had another executed on his deathbed all because he believed they posed a threat to his power.
- One of Herod’s brothers-in-law mysteriously drowned in a very shallow pool.
- Knowing the Jewish kosher laws, Emperor Augustus supposedly said that he would rather be one of Herod’s pigs than one of his sons.
Is it any wonder that Jerusalem was troubled along with Herod? You get a madman like that angry and there’s no telling what’s going to happen. We know, of course, that the people had every reason to be worried about Herod.
Herod called the chief priests and scribes together to demand of them where the Christ was to be born. The chief priests and scribes say that the Scriptures declare Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah.In Jesus’ day, people knew where the Messiah was to be born (Jn 7:40-42). Herod just doesn’t get it. Pagan astrologers know the Christ has been born and the Jews knew where he’d be born. But, Herod, King of the Jews, doesn’t get it.But, what if Herod had gotten it? I don’t mean to say that knowing a biblical fact will impact the heart. For example, many evils folks can tell you that Scripture says Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But, if we’re putting Scripture into our hearts, we’re going to know much of what Scripture says.What if Herod had really known Scripture? He could be remembered kindly by history rather than as a murderous tyrant. He could have gone with the magi to worship before the Christ. Mothers around Bethlehem would not have wept uncontrollably.Scripture has great ability to mold our lives. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Ps 119:9). “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet 1:22).
verses 7-8:Herod sends the magi to Bethlehem to find the Child and then send him word where the Child is. This is all a ruse-Herod has no intention whatsoever of falling before the Christ in worship. Herod’s heart is not right before God.
“Ignorance of Scripture leads to disaster.” Ignorance of Scripture led to great heartache in the region around Bethlehem. Ignorance of Scripture will lead to great heartache in our lives. If we’re ignorant of Scripture, we’ll sin in many ways and face great heartache (Ps 119:11). If we’re ignorant of Scripture, we’ll end up lost (2 Tim 3:15).
You and I need to know Scripture so that we can avert disaster. Let us commit to making 2013 a year where we know Scripture! What steps will we take in the new year to know Scripture? We have regular, congregational Bible study-we’re even adding an extra class one morning through the week. I know some of you can’t be at every service because of distance or health. But, others of us need to do better. Congregational Bible study is an excellent tool to grow in our knowledge of Scripture.
We’re starting a new Bible reading plan the first of the year. At least one sermon every week is going to come from what we’ve read the previous week. Let’s be a Bible-reading congregation so that we can avert disaster! Disaster of error. Disaster of sin. Disaster of allowing others to go to torment.
Let’s commit to studying Scripture every day in order to avert disaster!
If the Dale Ridge church fully understood that “Ignorance of Scripture leads to disaster,” how would we be different? We’d make sure we were here to study Scripture. We’d make sure we were studying Scripture individually. We’d know the book and our lives would be molded by the Word.
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Dale Ridge church of Christ in Roanoke, Virginia.