Herod: Evil Unleashed

December 19, 2012

Devotion for Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012
Herod: Evil Unleashed
Read Matthew 2:13–19
King Herod, known for expanding the reconstructed temple in Jerusalem, was even more renowned for his evil deeds, including ordering the execution of his wife and sons. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Herod was concerned in his final days that no one would grieve his death. He ordered that when he died, a group of distinguished men should also be killed, so that displays of grief would take place. (His family did not carry out his wishes.)
Our passage describes the actions of the desperate king trying to hold on to his earthly power in the face of a heavenly rival. After the Magi left, an angel again appeared to Joseph in a dream. This time the angel warned that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus should leave Bethlehem and go to Egypt to hide. Foiled by the lack of cooperation by the Magi in his first attempt to locate this young King, Herod now took more drastic measures to end any competition for his throne.
His next actions were horrific: he ordered the slaying of all boys age two and under, hoping to eliminate any chance of survival for this promised King (v. 16). The Bible tells us that this action on Herod’s behalf was actually a fulfillment of prophecy (v. 17). How could anyone destroy the lives of children to protect his own ambition?
After the slaughter of the boys of Bethlehem, Herod’s reign did not last long. He died, and according to Josephus it was a particularly painful and gruesome death. The angel informed Joseph it was now safe to leave their hiding place in Egypt and return to Nazareth. Despite all of his earthly power, Herod failed. God prevailed.

Out of Egypt I called my son. (Matthew 2:15)

Apply the Word

Allow yourself to grieve for the children of Bethlehem who were killed in Herod’s attempt to eliminate God’s chosen King. And children continue to be killed and victimized by adults all over the world, even today. Then remember that evil will never ultimately prevail. We must hold fast to this promise: God is greater than Satan—and He will triumph.