December 27, 2017
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
My dear wife and I have nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren. There are six boys 11 and under in one family! Can you imagine Christmas morning in that household? What a mess after all the presents are distributed and the wrappings are ripped off and boxes and packaging torn open. Talk about Making A Mess Of Things! But in the Bible – in the account of the first Christmas – there was another who was Making A Mess Of Things! Here is the account of what happened from Matthew 2:16:
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was ex-
ceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children
who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and un-
der, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
Herod the Great achieved some greatness in human history. He is best known as being king of Judea at the time of Christ’s birth. He was perhaps the greatest builder of his time! He remodeled (built) the temple at Jerusalem to such an extent that it was considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world! But Herod was an evil man! Here are a few ‘lowlights’ of his 37 year reign:
• Concerning his family:
35 BC – Herod ordered his 18-year-old brother-in-law Aristobulus III drowned.
29 BC – He had his favorite wife Mariamne charged with adultery and executed. After that he put to death Mariamne’s mother, Alexandra for stating he was mentally ill and unfit to rule.
28 BC – Another brother-in-law, Kostobar was accused of conspiracy and executed.
7 BC – Herod’s sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, were accused of high treason and put to death.
5 BC – Antipater, Herod’s firstborn, was found guilty of plotting his father’s murder and executed.
The Romans Emperor Augstus once remarked, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son.” At least it was safer!
• Other infamous events in Herod’s reign:
Miriamne was of Hasmonean descent. The Hasmonean dynasty ruled Judea from the 166 BC revolt of the Maccabees until Herod’s ascension to power. He married Mariamne to secure for himself Jewish acceptance as a legitimate king of the Jews. The Hasmonean’s were considered by Herod as a great threat to his throne. So he, over the years, eliminated many of them, creating great disfavor among the Jews and opposition to his rule.
Herod had placed a huge golden eagle (a symbol of Rome) over the main gate of the temple, enraging pious Jews! Upon the news that Herod was nearing death, a large contingent of Torah students tore the eagle down. Forty of them were arrested and, along with two of their rabbinical teachers, were burned alive!
Because the king was paranoid that no one would mourn his death, as that time was just days away, Herod ordered all the notable Jews throughout his jurisdiction to come to Jericho where he was on his deathbed. The notables were then imprisoned in the Jericho hippodrome and soldiers were ordered to kill them all upon the king’s demise! Even if not for him, there would be sadness and mourning throughout the country! By God’s grace, Herod’s sister countermanded the order, and it did not happen!
So it is no surprise that Herod the Great murdered the innocents of Bethlehem!
• This was at the end of the king’s life. By that time he was deathly ill, demented, and paranoid – determined to hang on to his kingdom! Just days before the “…wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ ” “A rival king!” Herod thought. “We shall see about that! ”
✞ By killing all the male children in Bethlehem and its districts, the king thought he was cleaning up a mess! However, he was more so Making A Mess Of Things! How?
▸ It was a horrible Mess for the families of those children – ruthlessly slaughtered because of an insane and jealous old man! Matthew quoted Jeremiah 31:15 when he wrote in Matthew 2:18: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were no more.”
▸ How many infant and toddler boys were murdered? Perhaps less than a dozen – which is why the incident was never recorded outside of the account in Matthew. Such a small number of deaths would be a minor historical detail in the ruthless reign of Herod !
✞ But there is another way he was Making A Mess Of Things! Herod was already headed for hell! But since there are degrees of punishment in hell (see Luke 12:47, 48), he was just adding to his eternal suffering! If you are not going to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then be as good as you can! You will have a bit less eternal suffering in Hell!
How do we apply all this to our lives today?
• Most people would never commit murder! Or would we? For we are told in I John 3:15, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” And who among us has never had hateful thoughts toward another? The works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19 through 21 lists both hatred and murders! We are all of the flesh before we come to Christ! (See Romans 8:5-8).
• We may try to “clean up our act” to become presentable to God. But this is a system of works! And we are told in Galatians 2:16, “…for by works…no flesh shall be justified.” If Isaiah 64:6 (Easy-to-Read Version) is true – and it is! – we discover, “We are all dirty with sin. Even our good works are not pure. They are like bloodstained rags.” So if even our good works are not pure, what about our bad deeds!!! The point is, the more we try to clean up any Mess in our life, the more we are Making A Mess Of Things before God!
• There is only one way to get out of this Mess – trust Jesus Christ as Savior! He totally paid for our Mess – our sins – and all we have to do is by faith accept His payment to cover our debt! Come to the Son of God today!