Matthew’s Gospel recounts the attitudes of Herod the King. We are going to look at the slaughter of babies when Jesus is transported suddenly to Egypt, God knowing the intentions of the evil king.
The story is interesting in that God uses the Magi to bring about the start of a process of the demise of Herod the Great.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-8 ESV
When God troubles Kings 🤴
The first thing that happens to Herod is that the birth of a prophetic King is trouble the heart. The reason is that godly, appointed by God rulers are not troubled by succession. You contrast this with Saul, who tried to kill David being that 1 Samuel tells us that there was an immediate spiritual transition, David is endued with the Spirit of God and at the same moment Saul has the Spirit depart and a tormenting spirit came. There is no doubt that whatever that Spirit was it was sent to Saul by permission of the Most High. The result is persecuting the one on whom is destined succession. Contrast this with David in 1 Kings 1 who makes a succession of the Throne to Solomon. God’s people who are given authority do not fear succession nor persecute those on whom God will anoint but in that attitude will engage all in the succession process.
The Scribes are specific in their knowledge of where the Messiah would be born. And it represents in the mind of an insecure king a threat to him personally and maybe to a corrupt system enslaved to Rome. There is a sense of convenience in the arrangement and there also seems to be a controversy over the monarchy being installed by Rome. Hence the Word “troubled”. The curious thing we note is the phrase ” and all Jerusalem with him” which indicates to anyone who studies the Word, in that it must refer to those who firstly understand Scripture, and those who are profiting from the alliance to Rome in the occupation. I would not expect the common Jerusalem resident to understand the implications of the supernatural events surrounding this birth. My thoughts and supposition here.
Trembling and troubling transitions to deceit
The phrase “that I may and go and worship Him” is essentially a lie and deceit from a king who desires to preserve his position. He is worshipping himself and if he did worship Jesus then he would immediately be admitting the superiority of Jesus. This in my thinking and meditation means that probably Herod was a narcissistic person. He says this to get Jesus’s location and has other designs.
How many times in Scripture do we see deceit being used to gain immoral gains. However the Magi are warned not to return to Jerusalem. This is strategic in that it gives Joseph time to get Jesus to Egypt before the King is exposed for who he is.
Deceit transitions to murder
Herod surmised that the Magi had thwarted his plan and he knew that to get to Jesus he would have to kill a generation of babies 2 and under. This is called the Slaughter of the Innocents. How tragic and how heart rending to imagine the cries of the countless mothers in Judea. Joseph is warned and God gets him to flee and escape such a atrocity. We can compare this to Roe Vs Wade in the USA that opened the door to extensive atrocities. Is it not also repeated in Church on a smaller scale when older believers ridicule the dreams of the young. Devalue the place of children and young people in the Church. Not even delving into sexual abuse scandals ravaging many congregations.
Murder is responded to by God
It is a fact that the same year of this mass Slaughter Herod dies. God warns Joseph that he is dead. Surely God’s judgment must have acted on the cries of both mothers and the babies. We must expect in our day also for God to defend our children and babies! It also speaks about the innocent. What I verify from the pandemic is how many innocent people have been murdered. Our society has provoked this by ungodly and secular foundations to the nations. This extraction of God, His Son and His Spirit from the nations surely produces the sort of psychopaths we see in Herod’s example. We must see God challenge in our day the authority that is so power drunk that the Church makes this false authority be troubled. Yes there may be blood spilled in the process but God responds to the blood of innocents who serve God in righteousness. Or who have no voice to speak or oppose tyranny.
We must learn lessons from Herod in the 1st Advent because certainly there will be other Herods in the 2nd Advent to come. We will see God unseat kingdoms in the last days. Psalm 2 is emphatic ; ” I have set my holy King on my holy hill. ” That holy hill starts in the redeemed saints and extends across 2000 years of generations of those who profess the Name of Christ. That word set means that whatever God the Father has determined in establishing a Kingdom cannot be thwarted by a murderous Herod in our day!