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Monday, December 27, 2010

12/27/10 Matthew 2:3-6 Politicians and Religion

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

(Herod the Great- wikimedia)

Thoughts: Herod the Great liked to have the appearance of being religious without really being faithful to God.  Herod was Arab on both sides but practiced Judaism to hold onto his power.  He sought to appease the religious people of his day.  One of the great things he did was re-build the second Temple- a huge religious undertaking for a very religious people.  Yet Herod tried very hard to secularize (they called it "Hellenize" back then) the people.  He introduced hippodromes, games, and shopping malls to the people, as well as seeking to educate people in Greek.  He sought to wow the people with the technology of Rome (especially roads, waterworks, and military).  Yet Herod's main goal was to hold onto power.  He killed his wife and son, as well as many rabbis, and the innocent children of Bethlehem.  He lived a decadent lifestyle that was condemned by many.  Machiavelli (the basic western policitcal scientist) said that religion was politcally usefel and rulers should appear pious even if they ignore the teaching of their faith.  Most politicians take that advice.  Three years ago the SC Legislature tried to put a monument to the Ten Commandments even while they introduced legislation to elminate the laws regarding keeping a Sabbath.  At a county council meeting a few days ago (12/23) in my area, council members said "Merry Christmas" a dozen times, while at the same time passing legislation to make the county more secular.  Christians should be very careful in cloaking politicians with endorsements without vetting them- less we endorse a Herod the Great who built the Temple but tried to kill the King of Kings!

Prayer: Help me to be a person of integrity, O Lord.  May those who rule over me seek and follow your will- not artificially, but with their whole heart. 

John Calvin abridged:  Herod was well acquainted with the predictions that a Jewish King would come.  Yet he is troubled because he did not put stock in the promises of God.  The people could have been roused with gladness at the thought of a new king, but likely were troubled becuase they had faced so many calamities that one more change would be hard for them. (Sarah McLaughlin- "O Little Town of Bethlehem")

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