Slaughter of Innocence

“A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more (Matthew 2:18).”

Recently a National Geographic article reported on an archaeological find in modern day Peru that is believed to be from the largest single mass child sacrifice in world history. (1) Researchers have found the remains of more than 140 children, ages five to fourteen, and 200 juvenile llamas and carbon dating places the single event to between 1400 and 1450 A.D. Evidence strongly indicates that their faces were smeared with a red pigment and then they were ceremonially massacred.

The natural question is “why?” An early hypothesis is that the Chimu people were facing a series of natural disasters and that they resorted to this mass child sacrifice in an effort to receive favor from their gods. Haagen Klaus, a bio-archaeologist explained to National Geographic that “People sacrifice that which is of most and greatest value to them. They may have seen that [adult sacrifice] was ineffective…maybe there was a need for a new type of sacrificial victim.”

Such a gruesome massacre is beyond despicable. Perhaps it is not coincidental that the Chimu were utterly vanquished by the Inca only a few decades after this event (Genesis 15:16, Acts 17:26). Such has been the fate of nations that sunk to performing such ugly acts historically. When Mesha, the king of Moab, was facing a fierce battle and the odds appeared to be against him, “he took his eldest son who would have reigned in his place, and offered him as a burn offering (2 Kings 3:27).” But God would see to it that no Moabite city would escape the destroyer (Babylon) He sent (Jeremiah 48:8). Kings of Judah, Ahaz (2 Kings 16:3) and Manasseh (2 Kings 21:5-6) also sacrificed their children and their nation also was conquered by Babylon.

In condemning Judah God said, “Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire (Ezekiel 16:20-21)?”

Many have drawn comparisons to the forbidden practice of child sacrifice and abortion in our day. A direct comparison is difficult to make fit but there are some things that are incontrovertible – whether aged five to fourteen or in the womb it is child and their development is being terminated (Luke 1:41, 2:12, Ecclesiastes 11:5). Additionally, it is very likely not merely the end of a single life but of generations to come (Genesis 25:23). Nearly without exception, both are performed so that the living may avert hardships at the expense of the child’s life.

God is not pleased by the deaths of these innocents (Jeremiah 19:4). To those who have regretfully given a child in this manner there is personal comfort and peace that God Himself extends to you. He is eager to extend mercy and forgiveness (Romans 5:6-11) and the assurance that He has this dear one in his care (2 Samuel 12:22-23). He loves you very much and desires to make you His own child (1 John 3:1) and offered His own Son (John 3:16) in order to rescue you and me. Even a faithful man such as Abraham had his hand stilled from taking his own son and we learn that is God who provides the sacrifice for our lives (Genesis 22:12-13). Our offering to Him is to be our own bodies, not as a dying victim, but as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:2) for all of our days. Whatever trials we may face, He is there to support us and no further sacrifice need be made than the one Jesus already offered at Calvary.

“And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me (Genesis 22:12).”


Billy Alexander is a member of the church of Christ in Jersey Village in Houston, TX. He and his wife Gwen both work at Hewlett-Packard where they met and have worked more than 25 years each. Billy enjoys teaching Bible several times each week at Jersey Village and Memorial church of Christ. Since 2008, his weekly article "Equipping the Saints" as run in the Jersey Village bulletin.