Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Post: Mathew 2:7-8

I will be posting the exposition I did a few years ago of Matthew 2. I felt it particularly appropriate for this time of year. I pray that you are encouraged.
In Genesis Chapter 3, we read about the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. When God pronounced His curse on the serpent, He said that the Seed of the woman would crush his (Satan’s) head while Satan would bruise the Seed’s heel. This conflict between Satan and God is carried on throughout Scripture. Time and time again, we find Satan attempting to thwart the plan of God to bring salvation to the world. Time and time again, we find Satan used the same means in his attempt to do so. Through various means, he tried to kill the Jewish people since the promised Messiah would be Jewish. We see in the book of Exodus, the wicked Pharaoh was motivated to kill all the Jewish males in an attempt to exterminate the Jewish race. In the book of Esther, we see Haman try to have the Jewish race killed by the King of the Medeo-Persian Empire. Although we know Satan has no way to be able to defeat the plans of God, we see examples in scripture of him trying to do just that. In Matthew chapter 2, we see this all too familiar strategy attempted again by this wicked Roman ruler.

We can see how carefully Herod the Great laid his evil plan out. We see in verse 7 of chapter 2 that he secretly called the wise men. Most of the time, if someone is trying to do something secretly, it’s usually not something good. Oh, sure, someone could be trying to set up a surprise party or hide a Christmas gift for someone special. However, most of the time, if someone wants something hidden it is because it is something they are ashamed for people to see. We know the end of this story and what Herod wanted to do to our Lord Jesus. Even if we didn’t already know that, however, the facts we know in history and what we have read so far in chapter 2 would cause us to be suspicious at his secret consultation with these wise men. We also observe the manner in which he questioned them about the star. The verse records that he determined from them what time the star appeared. In the Greek, the way determined is used indicates that he thoroughly questioned them to find out precisely how long the star had been appearing in the sky. This same word is translated carefully in the next verse. Herod wanted to make sure he knew not only where his target was but how long he had been alive. We see him methodically planning and plotting with a sinister precision that would even impress Lex Luthor.

In fact, his method of planning his crime is not the only way he resembles a comic book villain. He even employs henchmen. I imagine once he found out where the Child was born, he thought it would be too obvious or cause too much of a scene if he went there himself. Perhaps he was afraid the people would revolt against him in favor of this new King. Whatever his motivations, he did not travel to Jerusalem himself. Instead, verse 8 records that Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem with instructions to search carefully for the young Child and when they found Him he wanted them to bring back word to him. Again, he wanted no stone left unturned. His instructions were for them to make a thorough, accurate, exhaustive search to find exactly where this new King was living. This agent of Satan did not want to miss his intended target. In the ultimate act of hypocrisy, he tells them that he, too, wants to worship the Christ. We should remember that not every person who claims to be a Christian is truly a Christian. People use the name of Christ and the church sometimes to try to hide their less than pure motives. The epistles are replete with examples of false teachers who try to use their ministry for their own greedy purposes. I know that sort of thing still happens today. What we see in Herod, then, is just another example of a lost person trying to use religion as a cloak for his own sinful desires.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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