A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker and writer, Jeremy Curry.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
Matthew 2:1-10 (NIV)
Last week, much of the world celebrated Christmas. Many of us have heard the story from the passage above over and over throughout our lives. As we prepare for the new year, you may want to take a closer look at the story to learn about what God is putting on your heart.
We all have an image of what we think the manger scene looked like. You might think it looks something like this:
The star is shining brightly for everyone to see where the Messiah has been born. But, read the passage above again. After Herod is asked where the King of the Jews has been born, we read the following in verse 3: “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” He was “disturbed”. Why? Well, Herod certainly had his reasons. He was a ruthless king. Around 40 BC, Herod had already been named “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate. In his mind, he already had the title.
However, in his heart, he must have known he wasn’t truly the King of the Jews. After all, he wasn’t even of Jewish descent. He attempted to make the people think he was Jewish. He had lavish building projects, including the Second Temple of Jerusalem, a port, walls around Jerusalem, palaces, temples, and more. Herod must have known this was never enough because he was always worried about public opinion. He employed secret police among the population to determine how the people felt about him, he had 2,000 bodyguards, and he went to great lengths to murder anyone and everyone who got in his way. We know that he murdered several of his wives, his father-in-law, two of his sons, and all boys in Bethlehem two years of age and under (known as the Massacre of the Innocents). So, to say Herod was “disturbed” was probably an understatement. And if such a ruthless king was disturbed, it is easy to see why the rest of Jerusalem would also be uneasy. The people were likely uncertain what such a madman would do in spite of such news.
If we look at the story even closer, we notice that when the Magi approach Herod to inquire about the birth because they had seen the star, Herod was surprised. Herod didn’t respond with “I saw the star, too.” Instead, he then had to call together all of the priests to find out where the Messiah was to be born. He also had to learn the exact date regarding when the star appeared. What this tells us is that the star was clearly not apparent to everyone. The images we keep in our minds of the star shining brightly over where Jesus was born is, in fact, not what happened at all. If you wanted to see the star, you had to look carefully for it and be aware of the knowledge of its existence. What is even more fascinating is that even though the chief priests knew the location and they were informed of the signs, they still didn’t go to see the Messiah. . .and Bethlehem was a mere five miles away!
I would contend that pride got in the way of Herod’s ability to see the miracle of what was happening around him. Perhaps fear or the desire to stay in power was at the heart of the chief priests, which kept them from seeking God. What we know is that even when signs seem like they should be completely self-evident, such as the Star of Bethlehem, sin can ultimately get in our way of seeking God or doing His will. In Herod’s case, his heart didn’t change. He actually tried to kill Jesus, instead of accepting him as his Savior. As one commentator, put it, “Uncontrolled ambition can turn a person into a monster.” .
What is getting in the way between you and God today? Is it pride? Is it ambition? Is it pornography or another sexual sin? Is it a sinful relationship? Or, something else? Whatever it is, it is time to break the chains of sin and turn back toward God. He has given us much, but we will be blind to it unless we are seeking Him before all else.
Father, help us to seek You before anything in our lives. May we ALWAYS put You first. May we keep you in our sight, listen to Your words, and accept the merciful gifts You have given us, including the greatest gift; the gift of grace, mercy, and forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.