by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2014
“Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” (Matthew 2:7-8 NKJV)
Herod had an ulterior motive for engaging the Magi in conversation, especially doing it behind closed doors. The Roman Empire had appointed him ruler over Judea and with this position, the title “King of Jews”. Though not a Jew by birth and not recognized as such by the observant religious leaders, Herod gained favor from the people through his expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. However, he knew that the revelation of the one true King of Jews, Christ, would shake up the political balance he so deftly maintained with an iron hand. Therefore, knowing the exact age and address of the child would prove beneficial in eradicating the very person that would endanger his prestige and power.
Herod’s declaration to celebrate Jesus was actually evil intention in camouflage. The Magi may have been unaware that they were being drawn into the unholy scheme. However, God has given you these instructions for your journey, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 NKJV) You may be vulnerable in your foreign surroundings but don’t allow this to blind you to dangerous circumstances. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” On a mission trip, it is important to have the mental capacity to discern motives of people and make sound judgments, even if it means the best decision is to retreat from a harmful situation. But the Lord also exhorts us to take appropriate action with a peaceful, sweet disposition so that an unbeliever’s heart will not be hardened in hearing the Good News. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt…” (Colossians 4:5-6a NET) “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25 NKJV)
KESHER PRAYER (connection): Jesus, thank you for the assurance that you are with us on this mission trip (Matthew 28:20). We will not be fearful nor dismayed at anything we encounter, for the Lord has given us this promise…“I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV) Please give us spiritual eyes to see danger ahead, your wise counsel to know how to avoid it and the emotional strength to deal gently, in Christ’s love, with those who mean to do us harm. Amen!