How should we handle this verse? First, we should note that Matthew introduces the verse by referring to prophets (plural, “through the prophets”), rather than saying, as he does in other instances, “This took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet” (Matt. 1:22) or “For this is what the prophet has written” (Matt. 2:5).
These are weekly articles that Pastor Steve writes for the White Mountain Independent newspaper.
The second of the three incidents in Matthew’s Gospel is the account of the slaughter of Bethlehem’s young children, those “two years old and under” (v.16). It is a brief account, for apart from the note that Herod determined the age span for the slaughter “in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi,” Matthew does not elaborate on the details. The wise men must have told Herod that the star had appeared more than a year before their arrival in Jerusalem, which would have been about right. They would have needed time to make preparations for their journey and cross the desert.
One striking feature of Matthew’s presentation of the birth and early childhood of Jesus in the first two chapters of his Gospel is the way he views each step as the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture.
Matthew continually presents Christ as the King, and In Matthew’s Gospel we see the King of the Jews, the King of kings, appropriately being presented with royal gifts of gold, as well as two essential oils.
Burial masks like King Tutankhamen's were designed in the image of the pharaoh. It was believed that this would help identify them in the afterlife so the soul recognized the right body. The mask weighs twenty-five pounds, is two-feet tall, and is made of a variety of gemstones and two shades of gold (18k and 22k). Ancient Egyptians associated gold with the sun god Ra.
In the second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel account we meet some wise men from the east bringing gifts (next week we will look at the gifts). We do not know if they can properly be called wise men, since the word Matthew uses actually means “great (or powerful) ones,” and it indicates high position or influence. Nevertheless, these men were truly wise, and we would be wise to remember them and learn from them.
How were these men wise?
In the first of his letters to the Christians at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote that “not many … wise [men] by human standards, not many [who] were influential, not many … of noble birth” have been chosen by God to know Christ (1 Corinthians 1:26). That is a true observation.
In the early decades of the 20th century, the virgin birth was a focal point for liberalism’s many denials of Christian truth. Those who believed the Bible recognized that the virgin birth is indeed biblical and rose to the doctrine’s defense, answering the liberal objections. They did such a good job that eventually most liberals refused even to grapple with the arguments made on behalf of this truth. They just continued in their unbelief, as some people do, in spite of the fact that the Word of God clearly teaches the virgin birth and that the objections to it have been answered.
What an extraordinary book Matthew is! It is the first of the Gospels, the longest, the most Jewish, the most evangelistic, and, in many ways, the most compelling. For the first three or four centuries, it was the most highly regarded and most often quoted Gospel of the four. To some people, now as well as then, Matthew is the most important book ever written.
“Every culture and every age necessarily displays some tolerance and some intolerance. No culture can be tolerant of everything or intolerant of everything: it is simply not possible. A culture that tolerates, say, genocide (e.g., the Nazis) will not tolerate, say, the Jews it wants to kill or homosexual practice. A culture that tolerates just about every sexual liaison may nevertheless balk at, say, rape, or pedophilia, or in many cases bigamy and polygamy.” D.A. Carson
Christians are currently arguing whether democracy is the best form of government and if it is sanctioned by principles found in Scripture itself, this notion is a modern innovation: no one before the sixteenth century thought this to be the case.