“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.'” Matthew 2:16-18
So blinded is Herod by his pride and worldly lusts, that he lets the news of Jesus’ birth boil into rage within. With honey sweet words, he lies to the Magi, trying to mislead them, trying to dupe them into abetting his murderous scheme. And when his deception fails him, his rage boils more spuriously.
Ironic or just confirming the truth that Jesus would later speak, that anger brings the same judgment as murder [Matthew 5:21-22]. Anger is a seed sin [James 1:15], but a sin nonetheless. We are commanded not to sin in our anger because it gives the devil a foothold [Ephesians 4:26-27].
And for anyone who denies God and promotes self-as-god, anger erodes the whole heart–intellect, will and emotion. But when we hide God’s word in our heart, growing in our love for and understanding of Him, it guards our intellect, will and emotion.
Not that Christians never get angry or commit other sins. We absolutely do!
But God is a loving Father who comes along aside to mentor us and correct us when we do wrong [Hebrews 12:4-13]. His Word is a light shining on our path each day so that we don’t stumble and fall flat on our faces on our pilgrimage to truth [Romans 9:33]. His Spirit is a holy counselor who hears our hearts and knows our minds. In all things, He reminds us of who we are in Christ, that we are made in God’s image and how we can become more like Him every day [John 14:26].
When we, like Herod, reject God for the love of self, then we have to fulfill the role of god in our own lives. We have to become the most powerful in order to protect self. We have to be shrewd in order to try to outwit true wisdom. We have to be vengeful because we don’t trust God and we won’t leave vengeance in the hands of anyone but the one person we trust–our shriveled up self [Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:17-19].
In the end, God being omniscient and all wise, looked through all of human history before it happened and knew that Herod would come to the throne. Knew that he would be a paranoid, power hungry, usurping leader of God’s chosen people. Knew that Rome would be rising in power so that Herod would kowtow to promote himself.
In His wisdom, God knew that Herod would seek to kill the Messiah, His Son Jesus Christ, and that this was the exact right moment in human history to send Him into the world [Jeremiah 31:15].
Do you, like Herod, struggle with anger over the things of God? Or do you, like the Magi and the shepherds, rejoice with the truth?