January 5

Text: Matthew 2:19, 20

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child's life are dead." (NASB)

Herod is a fascinating person!  The Herod that Matthew referred to in his gospel was Herod the Great.  He was an ambitious person who was a skilled athlete, a gifted soldier, a talented diplomaterHYeHHH    , a visionary architect, and a vicious ruler.  His accomplishments were as astounding as his feeling of insecurity in power was ruthless.  At the same moment he could be loyal and vicious.  He could change sides when it was to his advantage, and he could turn defeat into opportunity.

The older he became, the more insecure he felt.  Nothing enraged him as did a perceived threat to his position and power.  At moments this very talented man could act like a truly insane person.  For example, he could kill the wife he loved as well as his sons because he feared they were a threat to his position.  His personal justification for such orders was his overwhelming jealousy concerning his position and power!

The things Matthew wrote about Herod the Great regarding the magi and the killing of the infants (1) were certainly consistent with Herod’s character and (2) were relatively minor when compared to some of his other deeds.  Though he was partly Jewish, the Jews resented and mistrusted him.  When he proposed a magnificent remaking of the Jewish temple, the Jewish leaders required Herod to amass the basic building materials before the work began.  Merrill C. Tenney wrote of this man, “Few men of his era had greater potential for good, or a darker record for evil.”1

Suggestion for reflection: No matter how talented we are, evil will consume us if it is given the opportunity.  (See James 1:12-15.)

1.      Tenney, Merril C., New Testament Times, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 65.

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