The birth of Jesus Christ is more than just a cute story to be thought on and celebrated at Christmas time. It was literally the day that changed everything. Do you realize that event reached as far as the kingdoms of this world?
The Wise Men & Herod
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him… Matthew 2:1 – 3
Approximately two years after Christ was born, wise men from the East showed up on Herod’s doorstep inquiring where the King of the Jews had been born. A star had arisen and they had followed it so they could worship Him. Herod’s reaction was somewhat interesting. He was undoubtedly familiar with the prophecies of a King to come, such as Isaiah 9:6 – 7.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
If the prophesied King was coming to bring peace and righteousness to the world, why was Herod so troubled? To answer that, we have to look at another prophecy that was actually given to a pagan king.
Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, the nation to which Judah had been exiled because of their rebellion against the Lord. One night the King had a dream that troubled him greatly. In his dream he saw a statue with a head of gold, the chest and arms were silver, and the middle and thighs were made of bronze. The legs were made of iron, but the feet were made partly of iron and partly of clay. In his dream he saw a stone that was not formed by human hands strike the statue and completely destroy it. The stone then became a mountain that filled the earth.
There was no one in Babylon who could interpret this dream to the King, except one Hebrew captive named Daniel. Look at the interpretation he provided in Daniel 2:37 – 45.
37 “You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle.43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people.It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”
The statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represented various kingdoms of the world. The stone that no human hand had cut is an obvious reference to Christ who was not born through an act of man, but rather an act of God (Luke 2:26 – 35). His Kingdom will bring all other kingdoms to an end, and will bring peace, righteousness, and justice to the whole world.
Herod’s Trouble, Our Hope
Now we can understand why Herod was so troubled by the wise men’s question. The birth of the prophesied King meant everything was about the change. It would mean the end of Herod’s dynasty; indeed, the end of every dynasty. This also explains why Herod attempted to have Him executed (Matthew 2:16). Fortunately, the plan of God will never be thwarted by the evils of men.
What was troubling to Herod is actually our hope. We look forward to the time when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord (Revelation 11:15). We look forward to a new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). The birth of Jesus Christ signals the coming of a day when all men, regardless of colour, gender, or ethnicity, will be living in the Reign.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.