Before the wise men left Bethlehem, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. Herod had told them he wanted them to return to him so he could go worship the king. However this was a lie. Herod feared Jesus was coming to take Herod’s earthly throne. He did not understand that Jesus was coming to be king of our hearts and lives. Herod wanted to kill Jesus before he had a chance to grow up and become powerful. But the wise men listened to the dream and went home another way.
Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father) also had a dream about this time. An Angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him to take Jesus and his mother and go to Egypt until the angel came to tell them the danger was passed. Joseph obeyed.
Soon Herod realized that the wise men were not going to return. So using the information about when the star appeared, he ordered all boys 2 years old and younger in the area of Bethlehem to be killed. But by this time Jesus was safely in Egypt.
After Herod died the Angel of the Lord once again appeared to Joseph and told him to return to Israel. However the Lord didn’t guide them back to Bethlehem, but to Nazareth.
Now all of this may seem like a crazy mixed up mess! However all of these things were part of God’s plan all along. These things were predicted in the Old Testament. Hosea 11:1 says that his son will be called out of Egypt. Jeremiah 31:15 predicts that Rachel (one of the wives of Israel who was buried in Bethlehem) will weep for her children because they are no more. And Zachariah 6:12 speaks of Jesus being a branch which could be interpreted to be a Nazarene. In other words, all of these things that happened in Jesus’ early years were fulfillment of prophecy or just following the plan God laid out. God told the prophets of old what to expect so that the people of Jesus’ time (and us as well) would know that Jesus really was the Messiah.
- Create a treasure hunt for your kids. Send them from one clue to the next (preferably all over the house) till they find the treasure. Talk about how the path seemed strange but it got them where they needed to be!
- Hide puzzle pieced throughout the house/room. Have the kids find them and put them together. Talk about how God placed clues (puzzle pieces) that made a clear picture when all put together!