“An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’” (Mt. 2:13).
Why does the Giver of life flee before mortal men? Could God, the Lord of life and death, not have been able to command an angel to take the soul of King Herod, instead of commanding Joseph to flee from Herod right into Egypt? Almighty God could have done this, but what would it have achieved? Maybe it would have been more satisfying to our superficial human understanding, but it would have over set the most wise plan of our salvation. How could the terrible distortion of human nature by sin upon sin have been demonstrated by the Gospel, and also the necessity of man’s salvation by God’s direct action been made clear, were God, that night, to have cut short Herod’s evil intentions by death? How would the pit of sin in which mankind had fallen, estranged itself from the true God as its guide, have become evident to the spiritually blind, had it not happened that God Himself fled before men?
~Saint Nikolai of Zhicha: “Homily IV On the Nativity”