Saturday, May 5, 2018

Is God Good?

When The Blitzkrieg of the Nazi army swept over Europe destroying nations and civilizations and
imprisoning millions in death camps, reasonable men and women asked, “Where is God?” The world would fight a six-year-long war before the terror in Europe would end. Eleven million men, women, and children from Jewish communities and Christian across Europe would die in the prisons and death camps.   When it was over, the question remained: Where was God? Is God good?

    The answer is that God was there. He was in the prison camps. He was there with ten Boom family, who had hidden Jews in their Haarlem house and had finally been imprisoned themselves. He was in the ghettos rescuing children as his people risked their lives to save the little ones. He was there wherever his people gathered and gave themselves to relieve the suffering and rescue those in peril from death. That is what Jesus declared when he said, “where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20). Wherever God’s people are there God is.

    But so many died. If God were good, couldn’t he have prevented their sufferings and deaths? Could not God have prevented the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Empire?

    The answer is yes. He could have. But God chose to create mankind with the freedom to choose. Men could choose to love and obey God, or they could choose to resist God and choose their own way. When men choose to resist God, he allows them to do so, even when it results in death and suffering. His purpose is to allow evil to be seen as evil. He desires that we know the consequences of our choices.

    But what about the innocent people who suffered?  What about the children? Where was God for them? Is God good if he allows the innocent to suffer?

    History is multi-layered. There is the big picture which in this case was the conflict between God and evil on the stage of the world. On this level God’s good did prevail. Hitler dies. The Nazi Empire is gone. The prisoners are released.  But there is also the layer of individual lives. Individuals may experience God’s goodness in the middle of suffering. And many, many did during this awful time.

    Those who looked to God found him sufficient for their need and more, even when they faced death. Death has no power over a person whose trust is in God. Death is not the end for them. And suffering is only for a moment. Many believers went to their deaths with the confidence that God was with them, even in that time. Yes, even children.

Many found faith in the prison camps, as the story told by Corrie ten Boom in The Hiding Place reports, for even there “all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It is simply a fact that when we come to the end of our ability and strength, we are often open to calling upon God and the hope he offers.

The complaint leveled against God that he is either not good or not powerful to stop the evil most often comes from those who see this life as all there is. If that were the case, a God who allowed evil and suffering would not be good. But it is not the case. This life is only the beginning of eternal life for those whose hope is in God, and the suffering of this life is momentary and small compared to the glory to come (Romans 8:18).

But what about others who do not experience the comfort of God in their sufferings?

God intends the difficulties and injustices and pain of this life to cause us to look to him. C.S. Lewis has written that God shouts to us in our pain. When our houses burn down or are blown away in a hurricane and we lose everything we have worked for, when our child dies in our arms of cancer or at the hands evil men, God intends that to cause us to look to him. He is the answer. He is the comfort. And we can trust our child to him.

The complaint that God cannot be good if he allows suffering is simply mistaken. It is asked by those who do not know or understand God. There is no question that the evil we experience in the world hurts, but it is not a sign that God has abandoned us or that he is not good. For those who have experienced God’s goodness and peace in the middle of suffering and evil, this moment is much more often a moment of deepest blessing. God is able to keep us even in times like these. He is more than sufficient.  

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Bible History Myth

History is important. History tells us where we’ve come from and who we are.  No history is more important for us than the history contained in the Bible, biblical history, for it tells where we’ve come from and who we are from God’s perspective. If that history is a lie, we are ships on a sea with no compass; we have no idea of where we are, where we are going, or how to get there.

     The Bible History Myth leaves us exactly there, lost ships on a trackless sea, because the history of God’s interaction with men in history is all a fiction. It is fake history. It was made up by the Jews in sixth century B.C. when they were taken from their country by the Babylonians. These exiled people suddenly found themselves a people without a country, without a history, and without an identity. So they made one up. That is the metanarrative, the secret story behind the Bible according to  The New Biblical Scholars.

     The whole idea sounds more than a little crazy, but it is seriously the story that is being told by the New Biblical Scholars and historians in our universities. It is the story that is replacing biblical history on television and in the books being written by these scholars. In short, the new story is that the Bible is a myth and it is meaningless to us in this modern age. But is this new metanarrative true?

     History can be checked by the facts. So what are the facts?

     The Bible History Myth tells us that there was no Abraham to whom God spoke and called to be the father of a new nation whom God would bless and make a blessing to the whole world (Genesis 12).  It tells us there were no Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham. There were no Hebrews who went down to Egypt with Joseph. There was no Moses who brought the Hebrews out of Egypt in the exodus. There was no exodus. There were no Hebrews who returned to the land God had given them to build a new nation centered upon God.  What are the facts?

     The facts are there in the ground and in the ancient texts archaeologists are finding.  The texts found in libraries at Mari and Ebla, ancient cities that date back to before Abraham, tell us there was a migration to the west of people from lower Mesopotamia, the place where Abraham lived at Ur. The migrations were for all the same reasons people have migrated from one place to another over the centuries: danger from invaders, the search for new opportunities, political turmoil.  The migration took place over many years, but it ultimately brought thousands of new people to the coast along the Mediterranean Sea.  Biblical history tells us of one man and his family who were among them, Abraham. The time was about 2000 B.C.

     The facts are that these migrant people from the east, identified as Semites, mixed with the Canaanites living in that western area.  Ethnically they were identical. Culturally they were different.

     The texts and the pictures on the walls of temples and palaces of Egypt, the powerful Empire of that time, tell us those migrations included  a large group of these people called the Hyksos who came into Egypt 1800 B.C.  Called Asiatics by the Egyptians, the Hyksos brought new technologies with them including the horse drawn-chariot, and the composite bow. Those technologies enabled them to carve out a territory for themselves in Lower Egypt around the city of Avaris and to  ultimately extend their rule over all of Egypt. [1]

     Biblical history tells us that this was at the very time and place where Joseph came to Egypt as a captive slave and rose by his wisdom and God’s design to become the second in command in Egypt. He fit in perfectly, for he was a Semites as were the Hyksos. The The Biblical narrative is right on target.

     The writing and pictures on the walls of Egyptian temples and palaces tell us that the Hyksos, who  had become so powerful in Egypt that they ruled Egypt between 1650 and 1550 B.C. were expelled in 1550 by the Egyptian army. It was a great exodus of several million people.
Egypt's victory over the Hyksos

     The remaining Canaanite and Hebrew people were made slaves and were made to serve Pharaoh by making mud bricks and building cities. [2]

The pictures on the walls tell the story of the Bible perfectly.
     After some years, Egyptian history tells us that a leader-priest of these people organized a group of these slaves in the city of Avaris, the old capital city of the Hyksos in Lower Egypt. (Avaris is in  the precise location the Bible describes as the home of the Hebrews in Egypt, Goshen.) This group of rebel people were expelled from Egypt according to the Egyptian historian Manetho (circa 300 B.C.) and left Egypt toward the desert to the east. The period of time in which this happened was about 1500 to 1450 B.C. This is precisely what the biblical history describes.

     The metanarrative of The Bible History Myth tells us that there was no exodus or any migration of people from Egypt into Canaan. History told in the rocks and ruins of Canaan tells a different story. A big change happened in the Canaan in the years the biblical history indicates was the time of the conquest of Joshua. New villages appeared in  the hill country of Canaan that were different from the building style of the older Canaanites. And the letters of those Canaanite city kings of the time of the conquest,  tell of incursions of a desert people called the Apiru. In one case the city of Jerusalem was threatened. The letters were found at the Egyptian city of Amarna and date to 1400 to 1350 B.C. the very time of the conquest according to biblical history.  [3]
     The records of the Egyptians also indicate on the Merneptah Stele that the Hebrews were a recognized group in Canaan  in 1200 B.C.  The Bible got it exactly right.

     All of this and a great deal more tell us that the history of the Bible is the accurate story. It was not made up by people living a thousand years later.

     How could the supposed creators in 600-500 B.C. of the fictional history of the Bible have gotten the history so right? If their narrative was created with little or no knowledge of the past, how could they have woven together a narrative that is as tightly connected and as true to history as we now know it? The answer is they could not.

    A lot of work needs to be done yet by archaeologists and historians as they discover the facts the Bible records in the rocks and ancient texts.  But set by step scholars and scientists are doing that. As they do so, the metanarrative of The Bible History Myth becomes less and less believable.

     The bottom line is that The Bible History Myth tells us there is no God who has acted in history. It is all made up.

     The real history, biblical history, tells both in the Bible and in the rocks and texts of the world where these real events happened a different story. Bible history is true history. And the God who directed in that history is real.

[1] Archaeological evidence at Tell el-Dab'a  for both the earlier Hebrew presence in  Lower Egypt and also the Hyksos. Biblical Archaeology

[2] Quote from Haaetz, April 14, 2016  LINK "The tomb of vizier Rekhmire, ca. 1450 BCE, famously shows foreign slaves making bricks for the workshop-storeplace of the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes and for a building ramp. They are labeled "captures brought-off by His Majesty for work at the Temple of Amun". Semites and Nubians are shown fetching and mixing mud and water, striking out bricks from molds, leaving them to dry and measuring their amount, under the watchful eyes of Egyptian overseers, each with a rod. The images bear out descriptions in Ex. 1:11-14; 5:1-21. (They made their life bitter with hard labor, as they worked with clay mortar and bricks and in very form of slavery in the field - Exodus 1:14a)

[3] "Who Are the Hapiru of the Amarna Letters" a study by S. Douglas Waterhouse.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Myth of the Jesus Myth

The Jesus Myth explains how Jesus, a simple carpenter from Nazareth and an apocalyptic preacher  who was executed for his radical ideas, was transformed into the “Christ.” The most well-known description of this theory was broadcast on PBS in 1998. The program  is “From Jesus to Christ.” You can watch it at   

     The theory is that the authors of the Gospels writing some 40+ years after the death of Jesus embellished (added fictional detail) to the events of his death  to make Jesus into a divine being who defied death by rising from the dead and who became the object of the church’s worship.

     We might call this theory a metanarrative. It is the secret story behind the narrative of the Bible.
This metanarrative is a serious challenge to the historic faith of Christians because it strikes at the most important TRUTH that Jesus is the Son of God who entered human existence as a baby, grew to proclaim the word of the Father to his disciples and people of Judea and Galilee, was arrested for his claim to be the Son of God, was executed on a cross, was buried, and three days later rose from the grave in a new spiritual/physical resurrection body, immortal and not subject to age or decay.

     The Jesus Myth theory is that the authors of the four Gospels were trying to create a theological basis for the faith of the early church. And that is important to our critique of the theory: there was a church, a growing group of believers in Jesus, that had begun as a small circle of disciples and had grown by 70 A.D. into a network of many groups of believers scattered across the Roman world and beyond.

     We read about those in the letters Paul wrote to some of those churches. And what Paul wrote about Jesus in places like 1 Corinthians 15 and Philippians 2 leaves us with a picture of Jesus that exactly matches the TRUTH summarized in the fourth paragraph.

     The bottom line is that the Gospel writers were not making Jesus into something that he was not already. Their reason for writing could not have been to create a fictional Jesus who was unlike the Jesus Christians already believed in and that Paul preached.

     What were they doing, then?

     They were telling the story of Jesus to various groups of people who had different needs. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience who needed to have good evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. Luke wrote to a Roman and Greek audiences who needed to understand that Jesus was not only the Son of God but also a compassionate man who cared for them in their humanity. John wrote to correct a growing idea that Jesus was just a man though one who knew the mysteries of the spiritual world. The people John wrote to needed to know the evidence that showed Jesus was the Son of God. Mark wrote a simple history of the man who was the Messiah and the Son of God and who had lived his life in full commitment to the Father, even to giving his life for salvation of mankind.

     They chose the episodes and details of Jesus’ life that would suit their purposes. Several of the writers followed a chronological pattern that was already known to those who had heard the Apostles teach about Jesus. It is the pattern in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

     But the story of Jesus, being orally transmitted up to the time when the Gospel writers wrote it down, had a few differences when it was written in the Gospels. Those differences are minor, and they do nothing to change the core of the story or the TRUTH of the story. You can see some of those differences by comparing the first three Gospels.

     The place where the details differ the most is in the narratives of the resurrection. But again, the details do not change the core of the narrative. In each Gospel Jesus is crucified by the will of the Jewish people and Pontius Pilate. In each he dies on a cross. In each he is buried in the tomb of Joseph. In each the women who were his followers watch. In each he is dead three days before leaving the tomb in a spiritual/physical body, the resurrected Lord. In each the empty tomb is discovered by the women who came to it early Sunday morning. In each (except Mark because that part is missing) Jesus is seen heard, and touched multiple times by his disciples.  There are differences but no conflicts between the accounts.

     Finally, each of the Gospel writers was intent upon leaving the story of Jesus for the generations who would follow them and who had not had the experience of seeing Jesus or of hearing his story from those who had lived with him.

     The tradition of the early first and second century church and the evidence of the documents of the first century indicate that the Gospels were written by men who had known Jesus personally (Matthew and John) or had received the Gospel story from those who had known Jesus. (Mark from Peter and Luke from others who were eye-witnesses.) The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written within the lifetimes of people who knew Jesus. They were written between 60 A.D. and 80 A.D. John is the exception. He was the disciple who identifies himself in the Gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John lived into his nineties and wrote his Gospel probably in the last decade of the first century. Few people remained alive by the time John wrote who had known Jesus personally, though many still were living who had heard the Apostles.

     The point is that the Gospels could have been fact checked by people living who had known Jesus and who had heard the Apostles teach this very story for many years. New and embellished versions would not have been acceptable to these people. These four Gospels would certainly not have become the central proclamation of the church for the next generation or collected in the New Testament if they were not approved by the early church as accurate accounts of Jesus.

     How do we know?

     There were many other gospels. Some of them were written within the first century, others in the second. They all tell the story of Jesus in terms that seem fantastic when compared with the sober and straightforward telling in the four biblical Gospels. They all to some degree paint a picture of Jesus that is mythical. (If you want to see what a mythical Jesus looked like in the early centuries read some of the Gnostic gospels. You can find them at Early Christian Writings )  If a myth had been needed to give a basis for the faith of the New Testament church, these would have been the better choice. But the church wanted the TRUTH not lies. They recognized the TRUTH in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And these Gospels had the approval of the church.

     The Jesus myth, ironically, is itself a myth. It is the story of a conspiracy for which there is no evidence or reason to believe. Fundamentally it is the attempt by people who do not believe in God or gods or spiritual realities to explain the Bible in terms they can understand – Naturalistic terms.

     These myth writers collect random facts and, selecting only those that fit their theory, create a Naturalistic theory of Jesus. That is the very thing all conspiracy theories do. They select some facts and ignore others. They create a theory that cannot  be fact checked. Don’t be deceived by conspiracies that don’t fit all the facts.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Nativity Story

The story of Jesus’ birth is told in both Matthew and Luke. Each includes some details that are the same and some that are different. For that reason a few consider the stories to be two different stories. But if the two stories are put together, they mesh perfectly. It is likely the one story was composed before either of the two Gospel writers wrote the portion of the story that fit their rhetorical purpose into into their Gospels. 

What follows is the whole story. 
(New International Version)

Luke 1:5-25  The Angel Announces the Birth of John 

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Luke 1:26-  The Angel Announces the Birth of Jesus to Mary

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Matthew 1:18-25 The Angel Announces the Birth of Jesus to Joseph

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Luke 1:39-56   Mary Visits Elizabeth 

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song

46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful

    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Luke 1:57-80  John’s Birth and What Happened Thereafter

57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

Zechariah’s Song

67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn[c] of salvation for us

    in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
    and to remember his holy covenant,
73     the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,

    and to enable us to serve him without fear
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation

    through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Luke 2:1-38  The Birth of Jesus and What Happened Thereafter 

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
 And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”),
24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Matthew 2:1-18  The Visit of the Magi and Herod’s Evil Scheme 

 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

Matthew 2:19-23  The Return to Nazareth

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Luke 2:39-40 The Return to Nazareth

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.