In 40BC the Roman Senate voted to make Herod the King of Jews.1Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 14.4. So, imagine his shock when kingly astrologers arrive in Jerusalem and declare that they are seeking a newly born king of the Jews, to worship this new king. Top it off with a star being aligned in honor of this new king. Herod didn’t have a newly born son. If he had, he likely would have simply murdered his own son. He did that sort of thing.
Herod does not take well to these events. The heavens foretelling the end of his dynasty would not be what he had hoped to read in the galactic newspaper. Herod was of Edomite descent, and his ancestors had likely converted to Judaism at some point (cf. Obadiah). Edomites were Esau’s descendants. The Jews, from all accounts, had mixed feelings for this king. He was more respectful of their religion, and he was better than Roman governors, but he wasn’t a rightful heir to David’s throne. He was an ally, perhaps, but not a friend.
Thus, all of Jerusalem is in turmoil when news of a newly born king of the Jews is announced by these Magi (Mat. 2:3). Herod schemes and conspires to defend his throne. He finds out where the promised king would likely be born (Bethlehem). He gives the Magi instructions to return to him with news of this king––under the thinly veiled guise of wanting to worship this new king himself. Herod later massacres all the infant boys of Bethlehem, in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer. 31:5).
Herod’s kingship was, to earthly rulers, lawful. But God is the one who does the seating arrangements for kings (Dan. 2:21). Like other wicked kings (think Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, etc.) we see that they are merely servants to His purpose. When He is done with them, He gives them their stage directions: exit stage left.
Thus, Herod evidences to us that earth’s kingdoms were less than enthused by news that a new king had come. Indeed, Christ’s advent did not only have spiritual implications: our salvation from sin. It had implications for everything. In other words, Jesus was come to be the lawful king of the world (Ps. 72:8). Herod, like Saul of old, sought to kill the King whom God had anointed (Christ means anointed one) over Israel. But in the end, it was Christ’s government and peace which had no end. And even Herod’s malice and death was used to fulfill the words of the Old Testament prophet (Mt. 2:15, 23, cf. Hos. 11:1, Is. 11:1). All of this combined was a death-knell to the kingdom of man, informing the nations of this world that the Kingdom of God had come.
|↑1||Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 14.4.|