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Christ’s First Advent, Part 5
Dreams of Warning
The wise men had not penetrated Herod’s design toward Jesus.
When the object of their journey was accomplished, they prepared to return to
Jerusalem, intending to acquaint him with their success. But in a dream they
received a divine message to hold no further communication with him. Avoiding
Jerusalem, they set out for their own country by another route.
In like manner Joseph received warning to flee into Egypt with
Mary and the child. And the angel said, “Stay there until I bring you word; for
Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” Matthew 2:13.
Joseph obeyed without delay, setting out on the journey by night for greater
Through the wise men, God had called the attention of the Jewish
nation to the birth of His Son. Their inquiries in Jerusalem, the popular
interest excited, and even the jealousy of Herod, which compelled the attention
of the priests and rabbis, directed minds to the prophecies concerning the
Messiah, and to the great event that had just taken place.
Satan was bent on shutting out the divine light from the world,
and he used his utmost cunning to destroy the Saviour. But He who never
slumbers nor sleeps was watching over His beloved Son. He who had rained manna
from heaven for Israel and had fed Elijah in the time of famine provided in a
heathen land a refuge for Mary and the child Jesus. And through the gifts of
the magi from a heathen country, the Lord supplied the means for the journey
into Egypt and the sojourn in a land of strangers.
The magi had been among the first to welcome the Redeemer. Their
gift was the first that was laid at His feet. And through that gift, what
privilege of ministry was theirs! The offering from the heart that loves, God
delights to honor, giving it highest efficiency in service for Him. If we have
given our hearts to Jesus, we also shall bring our gifts to Him. Our gold and
silver, our most precious earthly possessions, our highest mental and spiritual
endowments, will be freely devoted to Him who loved us, and gave Himself for
“Rachel weeping for her children”
Herod in Jerusalem impatiently awaited the return of the wise
men. As time passed, and they did not appear, his suspicions were roused. The
unwillingness of the rabbis to point out the Messiah’s birthplace seemed to
indicate that they had penetrated his design, and that the magi had purposely
avoided him. He was maddened at the thought. Craft had failed, but there was
left the resort to force. He would make an example of this child-king. Those
haughty Jews should see what they might expect in their attempts to place a
monarch on the throne.
Soldiers were at once sent to Bethlehem, with orders to put to
death all the children of two years and under. The quiet homes of the city of
David witnessed those scenes of horror that, six hundred years before, had been
opened to the prophet. “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and
great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.” Matthew 2:18.
This calamity the Jews had brought upon themselves. If they had
been walking in faithfulness and humility before God, He would in a signal
manner have made the wrath of the king harmless to them. But they had separated
themselves from God by their sins, and had rejected the Holy Spirit, which was
their only shield. They had not studied the Scriptures with a desire to conform
to the will of God. They had searched for prophecies which could be interpreted
to exalt themselves, and to show how God despised all other nations. It was
their proud boast that the Messiah was to come as a king, conquering His
enemies, and treading down the heathen in His wrath. Thus they had excited the
hatred of their rulers. Through their misrepresentation of Christ’s mission,
Satan had purposed to compass the destruction of the Saviour; but instead of
this, it returned upon their own heads.
This act of cruelty was one of the last that darkened the reign
of Herod. Soon after the slaughter of the innocents, he was himself compelled
to yield to that doom which none can turn aside. He died a fearful death.
The Return to Nazareth
Joseph, who was still in Egypt, was now bidden by an angel of
God to return to the land of Israel. Regarding Jesus as the heir of David’s
throne, Joseph desired to make his home in Bethlehem; but learning that
Archelaus reigned in Judea in his father’s stead, he feared that the father’s
designs against Christ might be carried out by the son. Of all the sons of
Herod, Archelaus most resembled him in character. Already his succession to the
government had been marked by a tumult in Jerusalem, and the slaughter of
thousands of Jews by the Roman guards.
Again Joseph was directed to a place of safety. He returned to
Nazareth, his former home, and here for nearly thirty years Jesus dwelt, “that
it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a
Nazarene.’ ” Verse 23. Galilee was under the
control of a son of Herod, but it had a much larger admixture of foreign
inhabitants than Judea. Thus there was less interest in matters relating
especially to the Jews, and the claims of Jesus would be less likely to excite
the jealousy of those in power.
Such was the Saviour’s reception when He came to the earth.
There seemed to be no place of rest or safety for the infant Redeemer. God
could not trust His beloved Son with men, even while carrying forward His work
for their salvation. He commissioned angels to attend Jesus and protect Him
till He should accomplish His mission on earth, and die by the hands of those
whom He came to save.
The Desire of Ages, pp. 64-67
Next part: Jesus’ Baptism
All Scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version,
including those originally quoted by Ellen White from the King James
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