Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Matthew 2:1-3 KJV
The Gospels say little about Herod, only that he is on the wrong side of the Christmas story.
Wise men came from the East, recognising the signs in the heavens, and what Scripture also prophesies, the first thing this king feels is fearful and threatened. When you go into history you then began to understand what the Bible does not tell.
It is known from history that he tore down the Temple built by Zerrubabel. Zechariah 4 shows the divine design of that Temple but is silent on this Temple. It took 46 years to complete. No record concerning its dedication from Scripture. And what Jesus speaks about it in Matthew 24 is that for all its majesty it would fall.
Mary alludes to this in her Magnificat that leaders would be put down.
The wise men were warned by the angel not to return to Herod. God saw what was in Herod’s heart. It would go from fear to murder. After knowing that the wise men did not return and that he would not know where this King was born, so he set about killing off the Male children under the age of 2. It is known as the Massacre of the Innocents. Jesus was now in Egypt, far away.
When we apply the fact that God avoided involving Herod, seeing what was in his heart, even the fact his motivations for the new Temple built a house devoid of glory, how many leaders is God hiding His work from? It very often seems that for all the building work, only God knows the motivation of heart. Jesus the Messiah is known to be born in Bethlehem and yet God still hid Him. Even the procession of angelic hosts to the shepherds is also specifically given to them. As well as the invitation to see Him.
Herod is thwarted and his rage spills out in terror. It is not long however that he is dead and Archelaus is ruler in his place. It is for this that Jesus goes to Nazareth, and scripture prophesies that He would be called a Nazarene. There seems to be a disconnect between prophetic scripture and recognising it working and manifesting before our eyes. I count the many times what I prayed and how it worked out, and sometimes I am amazed that it worked out in ways I could never have anticipated.
God will work His Purpose through us or in us, or despite of us, our motivation decides which side we fall on.
For Herod the Angel’s warned not to get involved because Herod was more interested in propagating his own rule. In meditating on this this Christmas we need to ask God to train us to recognise and discern the small moves of God in His preparing to bring Christ into our generation. We need to hear His invitation to be with Him in whatever form He comes to us. If we are insecure about the changes that embracing Jesus and His ways we need to embrace our Cross.
Christmas is a time to receive Him afresh. To receive His ways, receive His gifts. May our motivations be true to Him. That way we shall participate in His working in the earth.