As a playwright, I find it helpful to get to know the characters involved in any dramatic setting. The story of Christmas is packed with many faceted characters who all fit the gigantic puzzle God was laying out for mankind. In the next days, I’ll be talking about the various historical characters who took part in this amazing story. The story is true and filled with hope and promise for all who believe it.
Imagine a man who thinks nothing of building a kingdom for himself, built on the lives of others. A sinister character with total power as his constant driving force. He has no morals – no ethics – no value for human life – extreme political savvy and knows all the right buttons to push to achieve an end result that will benefit him alone. Hmm, sounds like many of our current leaders, but this one lived over 2000 years ago.
This guy used his talent as a manipulator to maintain his status with the Roman empire along with being able to rule a country of people that despised him for over 30 years. He stopped at nothing to advance his political career, but along with obtaining great power, he became obsessed with the fear that others were trying to usurp him. He killed three of his own sons and seven other of his close relatives. He even had his Jewish wife murdered, because he thought she had been unfaithful to him.
Herod was also known as an architect and builder. He’s responsible for building a temple for the Jews – a system of aqueducts – many impressive structures and the remarkable mountain fortress at Masada. All required money, so the Jews were heavily taxed.
This, along with the fact that Herod wasn’t a Jew, but a descendant of Esau, made him extremely unpopular with the citizens of Jerusalem.
Every great plot has a villain and Herod fit the bill perfectly. He was the one who set the wheels in motion for more taxes – a census – and finally the massacre of thousands of innocent children in search of the Christ child, whom he thought was out to take over his throne.
Dear, God, in your wisdom you’ve determined a time and place for everything. You are the ultimate architect, who designs our destiny. It’s because of your plan that our salvation was set in place and you used the most unlikely characters to carry out that plan. Thank you for working everything together for our good. Amen!