Unholy Night

Joseph had a dream. In the middle of the night, February 23, 4 B.C., an angel came to Joseph in his sleep and told him to take Mary and Jesus and flee! Go to Egypt, and remain there until he brought them word again. Suddenly wide awake Joseph immediately rose from bed and gently shaking Mary whispered for her to wake up. After he shrugged on his tunic and mantle and belted the sash, he touched Mary's face and spoke in a soft but urgent whisper: "Mary, we have to leave. Now. Hurry!" Seeing her rise from the bed, wide awake and reaching for her robes, he turned to go pack his tools and saddle the donkey. The young couple and their infant son were far away across the desert sands by the time Herod's soldiers arrived in Bethlehem.

Unholy Night

I did not write the scene of the innocents being slaughtered. I just couldn't. And I believe that God allowed Mary and Joseph to be far enough away to not hear the sounds echoing out across the dark hills, chilling sounds of father's shouts and baby's cries being suddenly cut off, only to be replaced by mother's screams and wails as their murdered children and husbands died in their arms.

Had Mary heard, had she known what was happening in the village, would she have insisted they go back and surrender Jesus to save all those children? What an awful choice to be faced with.

I don't believe our merciful Father would have subjected Mary and Joseph to such a heart-wrenching decision. I believe they had already traveled deep into the dark, empty desert by the time the soldiers swept into the village and hunted down and slaughtered the innocents, and Mary and Joseph did not hear or know anything about the terrors of that night until they returned to the village a month later. And oh. how real and true it makes that precious promise that ... "God will not suffer you to be tested beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the trial will also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." So take heart, Christian ... God watches over us, and goes with us, even when the way of escape is a dark and lonely desert.

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