Isaiah 6:1-3 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
On this Christmas eve, we find ourselves once again at a crossroad. The decision to follow Christ is one not easily made. The controversy surrounding the birth of the Messiah has continued for 2000 years and this conflict will not be resolved until every knee bows before Him.
How can a stubborn and obstinate people be brought low before the King of kings?
Recognition of God’s authority is an issue that has brought with it significant trouble. These patterns of trouble throughout mankind’s history gives us lessons today as to how we might learn from those who have failed before.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the ruler over the land had received word of a King that was to be born to the jews. The account in Matthew gives the lead in to the drama at hand.
Matthew 2:1-2 “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 have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
The wise men had understood a king was to be born by their ability to read the stars. The Lord had configured the constellations to align with Jesus’ birth and these men had understood them correctly.
vs. 3-4 “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. “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.
The thought of a King arising in the region brought concern to Herod. A king would be a threat to his rule and Herod’s lust for power would force him to do whatever he could to hold onto it.
When the scribes brought forth the prophecy of Micah, Herod understood the threat could be real.
Matthew 2:5-6 “So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:‘
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.’ ”
Herod deceptively asked that the child be brought to him when found. The evil ruler would stop at nothing to end his threat.
The wise men went another way back home to avoid Herod and an angel of the Lord warned Joseph to take his family and go to Egypt. When Herod discovered his plans had been foiled, he acted exactly as his dark heart would lead him….treacherously!
Matthew 2:16-18 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. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
“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.”
I can only imagine the cries in the streets, women hiding their children for fear while other families moved away in hopes to spare their child’s life.
Herod’s lust for power knew no obstacle. His concern wasn’t for whether the King was legitimate, nor did he take into consideration his defiance against God’s holy plan to shepherd His people.
Where was the wisdom of Herod’s sages?
If he believed that a prophecy would be fulfilled that was written 700 years prior, how could he think he could possibly thwart that plan?
Herod was the obstinate fool who thought he could change history and yet like many past fools before and after him, will have to bow before Jesus one day in disgrace.
Isaiah 45:23 “I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath.”
The Shepherd will be Exalted
Jesus’ birth was shrouded in a secret controversy, fulfilled in a stable, declared to lowly shepherds, apposed by a wicked ruler, and then His purpose was brought into question throughout His life.
Why God plans such an event like this confounds me.
Why wouldn’t God just have the Messiah brought forth in great pageantry with all the royalty He deserved?
Because God doesn’t act like we think He should act. Jesus came in lowliness and humility so that the Father could lift Him up.
We would do well to follow His pattern.
Philippians 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
If we want to follow the Shepherd, we must remember the manner in which He came. In the same manner of humility that Jesus came, we too should carry that honor in how we live. If there is anything honorable or praiseworthy, it will be lifted up in due time, until then simply remain faithful. The shroud of darkness may still remain over the land, but we know what God’s plan is and how it will be accomplished.
We still have our Herod’s today, we still have doubters all around us, and yet the Lord continues to fulfill His promises each step of the way.
Psalm 30:4-5 “Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.”
There will be plenty of time to rejoice in glory, for now serve the Lord faithfully and know His good purposes are being fulfilled exactly as He knew they would.