Selfishness takes many forms. One of the most destructive of those forms is the passive-aggressive manipulation of others. On the scale most live their lives, we excuse that as mere office politics. It’s true of course that we are not all political animals, and we can do our level best to avoid such manipulative mind games. Yet by nature of life in society, we will experience them. We all live in a fallen world, and when rulers and those in authority play ‘office politics’, it is no longer a game. Lives and livelihoods are at stake.
Herod had met the Magi searching for the new king of the Jews. He had consulted with the chief priests and teachers of the Jewish law, and found that Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Here we see Herod’s true character revealed. He calls them secretly, for he does not trust even his closest advisors. He collects their knowledge – the exact time the star appeared – so he can plan accordingly. He gives them what they are seeking (the location of Messiah’s birth), but with a caveat topped with a lie. A most offensive lie, for its subject is not another person or even a political figure. Herod looks to deceive God Himself!
This is classic fallen human behaviour – a passive aggressive play with unwitting strangers under the guise of the purest of motives. Herod opens his mouth and lies pour forth. No doubt can remain as to who is Herod’s god. But while Herod is revealed as a disciple of hell in these verses, we can also see God’s character revealed.
For his part, Herod thought to outsmart the ‘wise men of the east’, and to do so by himself. He called a secret meeting, and issued his secret order. How characteristic of his inflated ego! At the same time, God was outsmarting Herod in a grand way. God had his servants follow a very public star in a very public sky, and had the Magi publicly enter the palace to make a public request. What men do in private so no one can see, God does in public without anyone knowing.
The funny thing is that all the while, Herod had only his own ego preventing him from encountering the Lord. The occasion of meeting the Magi should have been seen as an invitation to bring him into the presence of God. It would’ve allowed him to personally see the extent of God’s great love for all people. But instead, his own sin cuts him off from God and his fallen nature is put out on display for everyone to know.
Herod thought to play the Magi to the advantage of his own twisted thinking. Instead, God providentially orchestrated all, to the advantage of His own glory.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”Jesus (Luke 12:2-3)
Today, take time to not just hear, but truly listen to those God sends to you. How can you impart something of His grace to them?