For those of us raised in democratic countries, it is difficult to image life under a despot like Herod. When the despot is upset, the people will feel his wrath. This is why, in Matthew 2, it says that Herod “was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3)
Yet, behind and above the throne of Herod stands one who is greater. Herod sought to eliminate a threat to his power, but that threat represented God’s plan for the salvation of humanity, a plan that God would not allow to fail. God protected Joseph, Mary and Jesus by revealing Herod’s plan to them in a dream.
Kings and governments have power, but it is limited and that power cannot overrule God’s plan for bringing us into relationship with himself.
In the United States, we are heading into a presidential election year. Starting soon, we will be bombarded by ads in print, television and radio letting us know that if we do not vote for a particular candidate, life as we know it will end. From my vantage point, it seems that each of the political parties is more interested in increasing its power than they are in solving the problems that are staring them in the face. They give the politicians far too much credit in their ability to fix or break the government. But I digress.
The point of this is that no matter how corrupt or despotic the government may be, God remains in control and will work things out according to his plan in his timing.
Jesus made that clear during his interview with Pilate when Jesus said to Pilate,
“You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”” (John 19:11, ESV)
Paul tells us that governments have been given authority by God to keep order in the world. But even when this authority is abused, God’s will cannot be thwarted.
Because we are limited to a particular place at a particular time, it sometimes appears that evil will triumph. The lesson we can learn from Matthew 2 is that when Herod fights against God, God wins.
I am reminded of some lines from This Present Crisis by James Russell Lowell: