The Escape to Egypt
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
The Return to Nazareth
The first thing I thought of when I read this passage is Joseph's amazing ability to willingly submit to God's calling. His first act of obedience and submission to God's plan was taking pregnant Mary as his wife even with all of the attention and (no doubt) gossip that such a union would have caused. Now Joseph again, drops everything and follows God's instructions. In. the. middle. of. the. night. He literally obeyed God's call at the moment he gave the word. Oh, to be able to fully submit as Joseph did to all God has called us to do.
I found this commentary, and I thought this was valuable insight into the choice to make Egypt the place of refuge:
Egypt had been a house of bondage to Israel, and particularly cruel to the infants of Israel; yet it is to be a place of refuge to the holy Child Jesus. God, when he pleases, can make the worst of places serve the best of purposes. This was a trial of the faith of Joseph and Mary. But their faith, being tried, was found firm. If we and our infants are at any time in trouble, let us remember the straits in which Christ was when an infant.
The same commentary adds:
Herod killed all the male children, not only in Bethlehem, but in all the villages of that city. Unbridled wrath, armed with an unlawful power, often carries men to absurd cruelties. It was no unrighteous thing with God to permit this; every life is forfeited to his justice as soon as it begins. The diseases and deaths of little children are proofs of original sin. But the murder of these infants was their martyrdom. How early did persecution against Christ and his kingdom begin! Herod now thought that he had baffled the Old Testament prophecies, and the efforts of the wise men in finding Christ; but whatever crafty, cruel devices are in men's hearts, the counsel of the Lord shall stand.
As a mother, I think of the unbearable grief of the mothers of all those sons who lost their lives because of Herod's fear. Can you imagine? Having the law, demanding the death of your son, in place and being helpless to protect your family. I can think of children around the two year old age (my youngest nephew turns 1 next month!) and I can't even fathom the mass murder of these innocent children. I love that God's purpose prevails. Always. Through even the most awful of circumstance, God is there and His plan wins out.
The last part of this passage is also developed in the same commentary:
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Matthew 3:1-12