27 December 2015 – 2 January 2016.
This week in the church calendar we remember the Day of the Innocents, the day when King Herod killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem in his attempt to kill the baby Jesus. This is a big emotional change now after all the celebrations of Christmas. But it’s an important reminder that while we are celebrating and enjoying Christmas, so many parents around the world are right now mourning for children who have been killed by wars, terror, and poverty.
Isaiah 63 talks about the deep sadness our Heavenly Father feels when he sees us, his children, suffering and dying. But it also talks in frightening words about God’s rage at those who have hurt his children, and his anger at those who just looked away and didn’t care that children were being killed. How can this be? How can people see these horrors and do nothing? In v. 5 God tells us “I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support!”
Maybe sometimes we wonder, like in v. 15, if God even sees our suffering from so high up in heaven. Is God like other human beings, seeing the terrible deaths of children all over the world, but just not caring?
No, God is not like that at all! Verses 8 and 9 tell us that when God sees his children suffer, he also suffers. In his love and mercy, he picks his children up in his arms and carries them to safety. He does this for all of us, never turning his back on a suffering child – because we are all his children. Verse 16 promises us that just because we aren’t Jews, even if Abraham doesn’t know us, even if Israel doesn’t acknowledge us, the God of Abraham and Israel is still our true Father, and he will always care for us.
But most frightening of all, in vv. 1–6 we see the terrible image of the blood-soaked king who brings his vengeance on all those who ever dared to hurt his children. This stands as a promise to us – but also a terrible warning to all those now at work in this world killing innocent children.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis