“And angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” (Matthew 2:13 NASB)
Good versus evil. This contrast parades across our culture, is displayed in headlines, and marches defiantly across lands abroad and others close to home. Evil’s ugly head is certainly exposed in the opening portions of Christ’s biography where wickedness stretched out its ravenous jaws to devour the best God had ever provided. Goodness stood juxtaposed against Evil as God’s promise unfolded, and the Savior who entered time traveled to the cross.
We meet Joseph in Matthew chapter one as the face of all that is righteous and good. While his spoken words are not recorded in Scripture, the record of his courage and obedience could fill volumes. God entrusted to this one man the sacred task of protecting his Beloved Son; Joseph proved trustworthy. He listened to the voice of God and, without the slightest hesitation, immediately obeyed God’s challenging directions. Joseph protected Mary and Christ Jesus as if he were a battalion of soldiers assigned to guard the King’s gold. He tucked God’s precious treasure beneath his wings, flew to Egypt as instructed, and endured the difficulties as a refugee in a foreign land. Joseph’s heart was wholly devoted to God and to the Son who had come to save the world.
In contrast, King Herod embodied ultimate Evil. Crafty, deceptive Herod tried to trick the magi into divulging the whereabouts of the one “born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). When his plan failed miserably, he became enraged “and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi” (Matthew 2:16). Some of the most tragic and gut-wrenching verses in the entire Bible are directly connected to Herod: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted because they were no more” (Matthew 2:18). Untold numbers of innocent babies murdered, leaving stricken parents consumed by grief in villages scattered around Bethlehem. Herod’s intention to destroy the Child born King ensured that this region experienced the atrocity of a vicious “killing-field.”
The greatest source of evil could not dethrone God’s perfect plan to deliver a Savior to the world. Evil schemed, plotted, and connived. It could not win. God had Joseph in place; his righteousness and obedience prevailed. This ordinary carpenter was the good instrument God ordained for protecting and providing for his Son, until it was time for Jesus to lay his life down and overcome the Evil One forever.
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell