“Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him." After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” Matthew 2:7-12
King Herod, also known as Herod the Great, by all accounts was a vicious and violent man; filled with pride seeking to expand his power and influence, yet also filled with fear of being overthrown. History tells of Herod’s incredible building projects including expanding the Temple in Jerusalem, the great lengths he went to with various leaders to expand his authority in the Empire, and even putting to death several members of his own family including his wife and some children. So, imagine the explosive emotions that he must have so cunningly disguised as the magi inquired about the newborn “King of the Jews,” a title given to Herod by the Roman Senate. He must have given an award-winning performance as he told the magi to report back on the whereabouts of the Child to him so that he “too may come and worship Him.”
The magi appear to have been planning to return and report to Herod until the Lord warned them not to do so and they chose to obey and go another way despite the price they might pay. I have often wondered if they kept a careful watch over their shoulder as they went back to their country or even for the rest of their days, or could it be that after worshiping the King of Kings that had been prophesied for hundreds of years, and having been watched over and warned by God, that there was no room for worry in their lives? They chose to obey God and defy a King with a reputation for retaliation. I imagine they mourned deeply when they heard about the killing of the babies in Bethlehem.
We are not given any more information about these men but should be inspired to “seek” Jesus as they did. We may think that we are under great oppression in America when we choose to obey and walk in the will and ways of God, but the truth is that the peer or professional pressure we experience today to keep quiet about Jesus or even denounce our faith is nothing compared to the threat of torture and death that was a daily reality for the first century Church. In every opportunity we are given to seek, worship, give, serve, and obey God rather than man, we should jump at the chance to choose Jesus and trust Him in whatever threats and earthy troubles might be thrown our way. As Psalm 56:4 says, “In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?”
Will you please join me in prayer?
Jesus, You alone are the God whose Word we praise, and it is You alone that we trust. Fear has no place in our lives. We refuse to be afraid and cast our anxiety at Your feet as we armor up and pick up our shield of faith and run into each day and decision. We commit to obey and walk in Your ways no matter what earthly price we might pay knowing You came to pay our sin debt in full and rescue us from an eternity of torture in the fires of hell and separation from You. No threat of man, no earthly pain, compares to the consequences of choosing to please man instead of You. Please strengthen us when we are weak, Holy Spirit fill us with fruitfulness when face opposition, and equip us to trust and obey every day. In the blessed and mighty name of Jesus we pray, Amen!
Serving Him with gladness,
President, National Day of Prayer Task Force