But when Herod died. . . .
(Matthew 2:9-13,19)

What a profound lesson! When the magi and the king wanted to find the Jews' Messiah, the chief priests and the scribes were able to tell them exactly where He was-the city of His birth had been chiseled forever into the granite of God's Word.

Does it amaze you that Herod didn't want to accompany them to see this One who had been born? It amazed me, until I recalled from Ecclesiastes that "there is nothing new under the sun." Some people don't want truth unless there's something in it for them.

If this Child the magi sought was really the King of the Jews, He would become a menace to Herod-a threat, not a hope! To preserve his status, Herod had to silence any truth-this Truth! So he made plans. He spoke to the magi secretly. He lied about wanting to worship the Messiah. He schemed to destroy the One prophesied to be the true king of the Jews.

Herod missed Christmas, and worse-he actually attempted to destroy it! Because he thought life was "all about him," he was jealous for his own glory and incredibly suspicious of others. Though old and sick, he would do everything necessary to squelch would-be usurpers of his kingdom. He would die for an earthly throne before embracing Eternal Life...who was just a short journey away.

How incredibly tragic...and violent! Herod's cup of iniquity overflowed with the blood of any who threatened him, not just his enemies. Family members, friends, politicians-even Miriam, the wife he adored-were all killed because of his suspicions. The Savior of the world had been born, and Herod not only refused to worship Him but also added to his sins the most notorious of his crimes-the slaughter of all male children two years and under in Bethlehem, just to eliminate the possibility of future competition (Matthew 2:16-18).

For all this sensational notoriety, what is Matthew's final comment on Herod's life? "But...Herod died...." The majestic king who tried to kill God's anointed died like every other man-in like a lion, out like a lamb!

But Jesus lived. Magnificent evil, full of sound and fury, could not touch this baby (Rev. 12:4, 5). Jesus lived out His life and died exactly when God had determined for Him to atone for sin. He rose from the dead and ascended to sit at the right hand of God, where He continuously makes intercession for us-for you, Beloved-by name. Soon He will rise from His Father's throne, mount His glorious white steed, and charge to earth to reign not only as King of the Jews, but also as King of kings and Lord of lords!

After His reign of a thousand years, Death and Hades will give up their dead. The books will be opened, and the small and great (including Herod), whose names are not written in the book of life, will be consigned to the lake of fire for all eternity.

In light of these things, Beloved, don't just prepare to celebrate Christ's first appearance on earth in the flesh on December 25. Let's prepare daily for His return. Let's prostrate ourselves before Him in total submission, day in and day out, not just at Christmas. Let's give Him the gift of our complete adoration, laying every treasure we possess at His feet.

Beloved, this could be the most significant act of worship in your life. And if you do these things as a habit, you will experience spiritual renewal, unshakable joy, and multiplied peace, which God gives to those who willingly honor Him as He should be honored-as

God with us...Immanuel...our hope of glory!"

Excerpted from: Jesus, God's Gift of Hope
Copyright © 2003 by Kay Arthur
Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene OR
Used by Permission