Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor
Herod the not so Great
Herod the Great, the first in the succession of the family of ruling Herods, wasn’t a Jew. He was an Idumean from the Old Testament Kingdom of Edom, south of Israel. He was appointed by the Roman Senate in 40 BC to manage Judea for Rome. So he was not terribly sympathetic to the Jewish plight under Roman rule, but he’d been around long enough to know that the Jews were expecting a Messiah. When the astronomers from the east showed up in Jerusalem in about 3 BC asking where this newborn King of the Jews was, that’s how Herod knew to call for his scholars and ask exactly where their scriptures foretold the birth place of this long awaited Savior was to be. (Matthew 2:13-18)
Now, imagine knowing that this One the eastern astronomers were searching for actually was the promised Jewish Messiah, and perceiving him as a threat to your throne, scheming to eliminate him permanently. That is the bold face of tyrannical evil and prideful, self-centered ambition. Herod is an extreme example of this. History provides us with no small number of other examples just like him: Nero, Domitian, Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussain. Extreme, we think, but how different are we, really?
When we know that God has sent us his answer to our entire human predicament—insecurity, conflict, war, abuse, exploitation, prejudice, injustice, and personal destruction brought by our own sin—His Son, the Savior of the world, and we stiff arm him and refuse to release the reins of power in our lives and move over and let him have access to our throne, we begin to see glimpses of Herod’s type of self-absorption in ourselves.
What if we tried to pattern ourselves after the example of say, Joseph and Mary? They were only given brief windows of vision into what God was doing and what their role was in his plan. And yet, every step of the way, all we see is their surrender, obedience, willingness to be players in a story which, in their lifetime, was only beginning to be written. Re-read Matthew’s version of the Christmas Story in chapters 1 and 2 of his Gospel. Commit yourself to not be like Herod the not soGreat, and more like Joseph and Mary. They got it. Herod didn’t.