A Voice Was Heard in Ramah

This is the first of five sermon outlines I’ll be posting this week. 

A Voice Was Heard in Ramah

       
I.           
Introduction

a.      
When
Jesus was born, He was visited by wise men. Before they came to Him, however,
they were instructed by Herod to reveal the location of the Messiah once they
found Him (Matthew 2:7-8).
b.      
However,
they were warned of God to not return to Herod (Matthew 2:12).
c.      
This
caused Herod to go into a rage, so he ordered the death of every male child two
years old and younger that was living in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16).
d.      
Miraculously,
God had warned that danger was coming, so Joseph took the family down to Egypt
(Matthew 2:13-15).
e.      
Matthew
then says that Herod, in ordering the execution of the children, fulfilled a
prophecy by Jeremiah. “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy
the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and
weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be
comforted, because they are not
” (Matthew 2:17-18; Jeremiah 31:15).
f.       
This
quotation and application of Jeremiah’s prophecy has caused scholars, both
liberal and conservative, a world of trouble.
g.      
We
will examine what this passage means and if Matthew correctly applied it to the
situation in Jesus’ infancy.

     
II.           
What Some Have Said

a.      
“St.
Matthew, who is ever fond of accommodation, applies these words, Mat_2:17,
Mat_2:18, to the massacre of the children at Bethlehem. That is, they were
suitable to that occasion, and therefore he so applied them; but they are not a
prediction of that event.” – Clarke
b.      
“Matthew
does not mean that Jeremiah predicted the slaughter at Bethlehem; but that his
words, though spoken as to another occasion, were so chosen of the Spirit that
they might be fitly applied to this latter occasion.” – McGarvey
c.      
While
these men are both notable scholars (McGarvey a brother and fellow-laborer in
Christ), I disagree with them on the fact that Jeremiah prophesied about the
Slaughter of the children in Bethlehem.
d.      
Dayton
Keesee, in his Truth for Today commentary, concedes that the verse in
Jeremiah is either typological or perhaps a prophecy that had two fulfillments
(page 90).
e.      
So,
are the bulk of scholars correct? Did Matthew (being inspired by the Holy
Spirit) simply reach back into the Old Testament and pluck a verse out of
context? Or was the prophecy in Jeremiah originally intended to be a Messianic
prophecy?

   
III.           
The Context

a.      
From
Jeremiah 30 to Jeremiah 33, Jeremiah involves himself in a prophecy concerning
the restoration of the two houses of Jacob (Israel and Judah) into one body
with one head (see Hosea 1:11).
b.      
While
Judah returned from captivity after the 70-year period expired, Israel (the ten
northern tribes) were lost. Hosea said that they would be swallowed up by the
Gentiles (Hosea 8:8).
c.      
Therefore,
this prophecy looks past the sixth century BC and into the first century when
the gospel would be preached unto all nations in order that they might be free
from the bondage of sin (John 8:31-38).
d.      
This
is why Jesus said that He was sent to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”
(Matthew 15:24).
e.      
Unfortunately,
we do not have time to develop the nature and purpose of Jeremiah 30 to 33, but
a quick read-through while paying attention to who is being addressed will be
profitable to you.

  
IV.           
The Explanation

a.      
So,
what does Jeremiah 31:15 mean? How is it a Messianic prophecy, and not one
necessarily dealing with the events going on in Judah in Jeremiah’s time?
                                                              
i.     
In
order for Judah and Israel to be reunited, David (Jesus) would have to be born.
                                                            
ii.     
Shortly
before Jesus’ birth, it was made known to the people that their Messiah was on
the way (Luke 1:13-17; 1:30-33; 1:42-45; 1:65; 1:67-80, etc.).
                                                          
iii.     
The
expectancy of the people can be seen in Luke 24:21 and Luke 2:38.
                                                          
iv.     
So
what happens when Herod orders the death of Jesus Christ – the Redeemer of
Israel? What happens when all hope seems to be lost? What happens when you
compound that onto the tragic loss of the children at the hands of an evil
king? Rachel weeps over the tragedy.
                                                            
v.     
However,
God saved Jesus from that death. Therefore, Jeremiah says, “Thus saith the
LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work
shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of
the enemy. (17) And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy
children shall come again to their own border
” (Jeremiah 31:16-17).
                                                          
vi.     
God
promised that all hope had not been lost and that Jesus would redeem Israel
still (Ezekiel 37). We now live in that kingdom as part of the Israel of God
(Galatians 6:16).

    
V.           
Conclusion

a.      
Jeremiah did prophesy about the terrible
slaughter of the children shortly after Jesus’ birth in order to encourage the
people that all hope would not be lost and that Israel would be redeemed!
b.      
You can be a part of the purchased possession
that God worked through the centuries to bring about. Obey the gospel today so
that the angels do not weep over you!


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