Read This: Matthew 2:13-18
We see Herod, the priests, and the magi as characters in the Christmas story, but there’s more going on here. They were real men whose actions revealed what was in their hearts. The wise men came boldly and were spiritually discerning. Herod was insanely jealous and quick to rage. And the religious leaders ignored God’s “loudspeaker” announcement that the Messiah had come.
Jealousy, brute insensitivity, and rage — the ingredients of tragedy.
One night, just after the magi’s visit, Joseph was fast asleep. Suddenly, an angel came to him in a dream with an urgent message: arise, take the Child and His mother, and flee. Herod is coming to destroy Him.
Joseph was all action. He got up, gathered his wife and Child, and fled for Egypt. In the middle of the night.
Barely a step behind them, Herod’s soldiers stormed Bethlehem and murdered all the male children two years old and younger. A night of horror.
Both events — fleeing to Egypt and Herod’s slaughter of the children — were foreshadowed by the prophets hundreds of years earlier. Hosea described God’s love in bringing His “son” (the Jews) out of Egypt, and Jeremiah spoke of Rachel weeping for the loss of her “children” to captivity (Hosea 11:1; Jeremiah 31:15). Both references accurately foreshadowed events from Jesus’ early life, and signaled to the first readers of Matthew’s gospel — who knew the Old Testament — that Jesus was the Messiah.