HEROD AND THE STAR, Twelve Days of the Nativity- DAY 11
In this series of articles, titled “Twelve Days of the Nativity, ” We take a deeper look into the nativity and all of it’s beautiful symbols. The Twelve Days of Christmas take on a whole new meaning as we discover Jesus Christ and His Ministry!
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. …..Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (Matthew Chapter 2)
WHERE IS THE THE KING OF THE JEWS?
Close your eyes, and visualize this scene. Wise Men from the East arrive in Jerusalem—a city that is ruled by a wicked, tyrant of a King known as Herod. These Magi, or holy men, are searching for a person they describe as the King of the Jews, and they say, “for we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.” Can you image Herod’s rage, as he sits on a throne ruling all of Jerusalem hearing the words, “Where is the King of the Jews?” Why is Herod enraged? Well, because Herod sat in the highest seat of the Jewish Kingdom–he was king.
HEROD AS AN ANTICHRIST
Herod was an “Anti-Christ” in every sense of the word. He was in opposition to everything Christ would establish. Under Herod’s rule, he frequently acted in opposition to religious laws, he himself, claiming to being a Jew. Herod was know for lavish spending, over-taxing the people, extravagant gifts, as well as even erecting a Golden Eagle at the front of the temple which showed his very allegiance to Rome over the Jews he ruled over. Herod was erecting idols as symbols in the very kingdom that the Messiah was to reign at His coming. How would the nation recognize the true symbols of their King when Herod was replacing them? Even the pharisees and sadducees that Jesus “sparred” words with in later New Testament writings despised King Herod.
Herod, at the time of the birth of Christ, had even replaced “seats” of the Jewish High Priest of the temple for his own appointments—mocking the very sanctity of temple worship. The temple became a place of political and monetary appointments instead of those with true spiritual knowledge of the King who was to come. It was said that because of Herod’s influence, the temple hierarchy had become increasingly corrupt. What once was a place where humble followers worshiped became a place of apostasy and idol worship.
MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS
The darkest stain on Herod’s rule was known as the “Massacre of the Innocents” where he ordered the killing of thousands of innocent male children under the age of 2. Herod, during his reign, was also responsible for murdering his wife, several of his sons, and hundreds of military leaders. He was a madman! The very threat of another “King” being born would have spurred his rage. Imagine–Herod had no respect for God and his prophecies anyway, yet he feared anyone who might threaten his throne–a throne which was supposed to seat the Messianic King who would spiritually walk in and out of the presence of God.
As a mother, imagine yourself a member of a Kingdom ruled by a tyrant who would murder your child. I can not imagine being the mother of a child that was murdered by Herod. The pain and grief these women might have experienced is unimaginable. But God lays “patterns” of “escape” for his saints. These patterns can be found in the story of the nativity. (Take note, a similar pattern is found in the story of Moses, as well as Noah’s ark). Joseph and Mary were told by an angel to flee to Egypt because Herod would seek to kill him.
HEROD’S MURDEROUS NARSCASSISM
One of the most disturbing descriptions of Herod’s insanity was described by Josephus, who said that Herod was worried that he would not be mourned when he died, and so he gave an order that a large group of men were to be slaughtered at his death so that the “signs” of mourning and grief would take place (mourning for the dead, even if not him). This order was never followed through with, but the very nature of it presents us with a level of vanity and wickedness that is almost incomprehensible—even at death he was unrepentant. Nevertheless, God always has his hand in the timing. The birth of a Heavenly King on earth that would redeem the Jewish people couldn’t have been more perfectly timed during this time of turmoil in Jerusalem. And so, can you imagine the impending scene of the Wise Men asking the Tyrant who believed he was king, “Where is the King of the Jews?”
PROPHECY AND A STAR
When Herod finds these Wise Men seeking the “King of the Jews” the wise men say they have “seen HIS star.” What did this mean? The exact phrase Matthew used in scripture to describe the star is “from the east” and the Greek words used in this phrase were “en te anatole.” This phrase “en te anatole” was actually a Greek phrase that referred to an astronomical event that resembles the exact description of the star found in these passages of Matthew. This event is described in astronomy as as a “helical rising.“ In Greece, this type of astronomical event was symbolic of the “birth” of someone important. There is a facinsinating article written about this event using the words of Matthew. I encourage you to read it (HERE). It reveals much about not just symbols, but about signs and God’s timing. Heaven and earth are connected. One is a copy of the other–just as the rising star in the heavens was symbolic of a heavenly pattern occurring on earth. The tabernacle was a replica of heavenly things–and the lid of the “ark of the covenant” was “gilded” with gold. This lid had a mirror like surface, that “mirrored” a message being communicated in the very patterns of the tabernacle. The patterns in heaven reflect patterns that are manifested on earth!
After The Magi come searching for a King, Herod, consulting his own “wise men,”( i.e. all the chief priests and scribes) demanded to know where this child would be born. The chief priest and scribes, with “knowledge” of the prophecies, yet no understanding name the place as “foretold by the prophets” as the city of Bethlehem. The scribes and chief priests had the records, but they did not understand them—and so when the Wise Men came, they “reveal” what the chief priests and scribes would just discover at their coming. This “moment” described in scripture is a reminder that all the knowledge and studying of the world is useless without “spiritual” understanding. As a warning for end time events, and the followers of Christ, we must beware that we will not be just as “blind” as those who couldn’t “see” His coming then.
End Time prophecy explains in Revelations Chapter 12, that a “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” being with child, would “travail” in pain waiting to be delivered. This woman flees into the wilderness, where a place is prepared for her by God. On September 23, 2017, an astronomical event appeared in the sky that also “appears” to mirror these passages in heaven. We know that “signs” themselves are not the fulfillment, but are “witnesses,” and patterns of it. The star of Bethlehem did not “fulfill” the birth of Christ. Rather, it was a “reflection” of prophecy fulfilled God’s time and His Birth. Are we “watching” and “praying”? If you want to take more time to study parallels to this end time prophecy–the patterns are already found in scripture. A good study of the symbolic meaning behind holy days like Yom Kippur, the catholic Ember Days, and for my Mormon friends, paralleling your religious attire and customs with the jewish clothing worn on Yom Kippur will give you greater insight to its meaning. We can’t understand these things without prayer–and these religious practices point to a “sabbath’ spent in prayer and fasting to understand their meaning.
Following these passages in Revelation, in the very next Chapter we are introduced to an “end time” Anti-Christ. The end-time Anti-Christ speaks blasphemes against God–claiming to know him and be his servant, but having no knowledge of Him. In these passages we find that “power” is given for a time to this being. In the story of the Nativity, we witness “Herod” being given power for a time, to “blaspheme” God—and God has purpose in allowing these things to happen. Those with a purpose in God’s plan are also given an “escape” during this time, just as Jospeh and Mary were warned to flee to Egypt.
Just prior to Herod’s issuing the order to have all male babies killed in Bethlehem, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and says, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Matthew Ch. 2:13-15.) In these passages of scripture, we discover that Joseph is given an “escape,” but we also discover that Jesus spent some portion of his time in Egypt. Why? What type of knowledge did Jesus gain during time he spent in Egypt?
FOLLOW THE PROMPTINGS
In these passages of scripture, we learn that prophecy foretold that Joseph would flee to Egypt. We also learn that he heeded the words of an angel coming to him in a dream. When Joseph heeded the things that were revealed to him from God, he not only was provided an “escape,” but these very actions fulfilled prophecy recorded in scripture. I don’t believe Joseph “waited” to understand the written words contained in prophecy before he heeded the words of an angel, rather, he heeded the words of an angel, and as a result, he was spared from the actions of Herod and given witnesses to confirm his faith. The knowledge that his actions fulfilled written “phophecies” contained in scripture came later, and were confirmations to his faith. Let us not be as the scribes and priests who discover that prophecy “has already” been fulfilled. Will we “heed” the words of the “angel” when the time comes?
AN ESCAPE FOR US
As Saints, we are given counsel in the Book of Revelations—and it’s the Saints that follow this counsel that will “escape.” Revelation Chapter 13 says, “If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints (Revelation 13:9-10). Sounds like a verse that teaches that we will “reap what we sow.” Can you see the “reapers” in the painting above as the young babies are slaughtered? Do we understand what these passages of scripture mean?
I love that these verses describing the escape of the saints in Revelations begin with if any man have an “ear,” let him “hear.” We all have ears—but do we have the kind of “ears” that can “hear” what God wants us to do, and actually act on it? The word “faith” is rooted in action. If we do not act, then we can we actually claim to have faith?
PATTERNS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH
As we near the close of this final chapter, we have been given patterns for our understanding. The symbols found within the nativity give us deeper “understanding” of how God has fulfilled prophecy, and how he will do so in the future.