This is the third post in this series of the faith of people associated with the birth of Jesus. The first post was “The Faith of Joseph of Nazareth”, the second “The Faith of the Magi”, now the third (and this is the one that I told you would be a shocker) The Faith of Herod..... false faith but faith nonetheless. Not saving faith but faith nonetheless. Believing is an integral part of our relationship in God but what's important is how we act on that belief.
James 2:19 (NKJV) You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!
Those of us who know the story know that Herod was visited by the Magi, as described in the previous post, that he asked them to come back and tell him where the baby they were looking for ,“King of the Jews”, was so that he could go worship him. We also know that wasn’t Herod's intention because when he found out that the Magi had gone home without coming back to him he ordered that all male children in and around Bethlehem two years and under be killed.
Matthew 2:1-8 (NKJV) 1 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, 2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.' "
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also."
Matthew 2:12 (NKJV) Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Matthew 2:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 "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."
Who was Herod the Great
HEROD was not a personal name, but the family surname. It belonged to all the generations of the Herodian house. Much confusion has arisen because this simple fact has not been understood.
HEROD THE GREAT was born in 72 BC and died in 1 BC. He bore the titles of "Herod the King" and "King of Judea". Herod the Great was greatly stirred when the Magi announced the birth of some great king in his kingdom.
The slaughter of all the children in Bethlehem was not out of character for him, as he had murdered many in his own household in order to make his position secure. Before his death he had all the prominent Jews in his territory arrested and put into the hippodrone at Jericho, with instructions to kill them upon his own death.
Herod ruled from around 37 BC until his death in 1 BC. This is the HEROD who was on the scene at the time of the birth of Jesus.
Herod’s False Faith
Micah 5:2 (NKJV) "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."
Herod believed, had faith in, this Old Testament Scripture that there would be a king to rule Israel and he feared this king. Instead of worshiping him he wanted to kill him to protect his position in Israel. If he didn’t believe then why have all the male children, two and under, in and around Bethlehem killed.
What a difference between Herod, himself a Gentile and the Magi also Gentiles, to the news about a Savior who would bring salvation to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The Magi rejoiced, Herod and all Jerusalem was troubled. The Magi came hundreds of miles, Bethlehem was only about seven miles from Jerusalem, but they wouldn't make that walk.
Herod’s Big Problem
Herod saw this this king, that he believed would be born, as a threat not a Savior. He and many others didn't get it. Things aren't really that different today. Many don’t really grasp the meaning of the birth of Jesus who was born to die for the sins of mankind.
To truly rejoice at Christmas look at the birth of Jesus through the eyes of faith, like Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi.
What is Christmas all about? There’s your answer.
#3 in the Faith at Christmas Series
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.