by Tad Lindley
Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The place of his birth was actually prophesied about in the book of Micah, As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah – from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past. (5:2) At that very same time, wise men in Persia noticed an unusual star in the sky in the direction of Israel. These wise men, believing it to be an important sign, sometime thereafter headed in the direction of the star.
The Magi Stir Up Jerusalem
The wise men arrived in Jerusalem. 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)
You’ve got to understand that Herod viewed this strange occurrence as a tremendous threat. History tells us that he was a very paranoid man, even to the point of killing at least one wife and multiple family members. And now these wise men from the east inform him that a new king has been born. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, “In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, ‘And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:4-6)
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.” (Matthew 2:7-8) The last thing that Herod wanted to do was to worship Jesus. Herod viewed the young child as a very serious threat to his power.
Wise Men Give Him the Slip
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (Matthew 2:9-12) By the time the wise men saw Jesus, he was no longer a baby, he was already a young child and in a house. There were no shepherds, no stable, no manger, he was in a house.
In fact, Jesus may have been as old as 2 years old at that point. Check this out: Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. (Matthew 2:16) If this happened in modern day Bethel, Alaska, it would mean about 100 male children being killed. Bethlehem in Judea was much smaller, so the number was probably a third of that or less.
What About You?
We look back at these 2,000 year old events and we condemn Herod as a madman. And in no way do I condone his means, but I have to say that most of us can relate to Herod’s very real fear of releasing his kingship to the kingdom of God. How many times have I wanted to be King Tad, seated on the very throne of my life, living however I wanted, not bowing to anyone or anything including the King Jesus. Yet in order to serve God, I have no choice but to step down from the throne of my life and give that power over to Jesus. Herod came to a tormented end, trying to commit suicide by stabbing, and then dying shortly thereafter from a heart attack. Think how different it could have ended for him if he had chosen to worship the King instead of be the king. How will it end for you?
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.