In the Days of Herod …

In the days of Herod the king, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. Matthew 2:1

Most of us read this sentence every Christmas without giving it a second thought. But during Matthew’s time, this detail made a powerful point.

Herod was a brilliant, wealthy king placed in power by Rome. But Herod wasn’t Roman. And he wasn’t Jewish. He was an Edomite, a descendant of Esau. In fact, he was the most powerful Edomite to ever live.

For the Jewish people of the time, oppressed and weary, how would they have heard Matthew’s description?

Genesis 25:23 promised that:

 “The older (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob)”

Jesus, descendant of Jacob (Israel) was put on the world’s stage at the time of the greatest Edomite that ever lived.

Mary and Joseph, poor and powerless, were told by angels that their son would be the Savior.

What would it have taken for them to believe that a descendant of Israel would rule Esau during the time of Herod? How could this be that the King of the Universe would be born in a filthy stable and placed in a manger – while the Edomite is in the palace with all its power and glory?

Would you believe it?

Mary and Joseph believed it. The shepherds believed it. And Herod believed it!

He believed it enough that he dispatched a legion of soldiers to kill the babies in Bethlehem. He knew the prophecy. And he was scared.

God wanted to make sure people got the message. In the face of the impossible, God’s promise still stood! God is asking, “Do you believe that the baby in the filthy sheep pen is the King of the universe and that the man in the palace will someday be nothing?” Herod is not the king! Jesus is.

What’s your Herod? What is that impossible situation in your life? Whether it’s a broken relationship, loneliness, financial hardship, health issues, be encouraged. These seemingly impossible situations don’t hold ultimate power. Jesus does.

In the days of Herod the king, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.


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