Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Matthew 2:13

There is a lot to celebrate this time of year and we absolutely should celebrate. God coming into flesh. The beginning of a new year. The visit of the Magi. Jesus revealing Himself as the Messiah, sent to redeem creation. This is amazing stuff. God comes for you. God comes for us all. He is faithful in fulfilling His promise of salvation and growing us in His gift of faith.

Yet it is amazing how quickly we would rather have a Messiah much like Israel was hoping for at the time of Jesus. We hope God’s plan would include the end of struggle and the immediate elimination of evil. Much like the familiar and popular song, we want a merry little Christmas where all our troubles will be…out of sight. Matthew 2 presents a disappointing story if that is your hope.

Hopes and dreams and ideal futures aren’t a bad thing, but life rarely runs with perfect smoothness. Jesus came to a world corrupted by sin. We live in a world determined to live in disobedience. Even as believers and followers of Christ, our sinful natures often either ignore or even justify rebellious attitudes and actions.

We prefer the idealized pictures painted of the nativity, but Mary and Joseph weren’t exactly on a Christmas break. They were dealing with the disruption of the Roman registration, and then the real danger began with Herod on the prowl.

Sin, corrupt rulers, a disobedient world, Satan—God does not give way when it comes to His promise of redeeming the world. His plan is set. Jesus came to die, but first He had to live in obedience and face temptation, so God protected not just Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, but His plan of salvation.

Throughout history God has protected His investment, even when His people were ready to give away His promise, whether it was Adam and Eve, Abraham, or Israel itself. God was faithful when evil threatened to destroy promises, whether it was Egypt, Philistines, Babylon, Assyria, Rome, and then with Herod.

The angel instructs them to escape to Egypt. God not only protects His promise but uses the action to fulfill His prophecy. This is not a surprise for God. Jesus is connected to Old Testament promises, to chosen Israel, as the new and greater Moses leading God’s people out of bondage.

So, now will “our troubles be out of sight?”

God continues to protect His promise of faith in you. When you might be ready to give away His promise. When evil threatens to destroy the promises. There are countless examples you have of tragedy and loss. Even as we celebrate, we don’t reconfigure Christmas into some false serenity. Christ came to a broken world to fulfill the promises of God, not to give us some kind of false hope.

Lord, deliver us from evil. Amen.

Rev. Richard Snow, President, Nebraska District LCMS

Originally printed in the December 2022 Nebraska District Reporter