Here is another reflection from the recent Israel trip. You might not care about Herod the Great, but I do have an identity feature that I want to share in light of these ideas – one of my identity features anyway. Hopefully, you connect with it as well.
Whenever I heard about Herod in Sunday School, it was always in the context of Herod wanting to kill babies and wanting to kill the baby Jesus. I have this very negative perception of who Herod was. Actually, up until recently, I’ve held on to this conception of Herod. Boy, did I have a wrong conception of who Herod was. Here are a few wrong concepts.
First of all, King Solomon – the wisest King ever – was indirectly involved with the killing of babies. We choose to think of him as someone that has done great things – but he was connected with the killing of babies. In fact, it seem common place centuries ago. It was what people did in order to be prosperous. It’s weird and wrong for us – but not so much for centuries.
Second – Herod did more to further the Gospel of the Kingdom of God than you or I will ever do. Israel was such a key spot during Herod’s day. Beyond your wrong conception of Herod, he was an amazing builder. Not only did he build amazing palaces for himself, he build amazing cities around his palaces. Anyone traveling from one side of the Empire to another had to go through Israel. He even created an important port so if you were traveling by boat – you’d stop at his port. The cities that he build during that time really make that spot a key place to stop on any of your travels.
Have you ever read in the Scriptures of how the celebrity of Jesus spread throughout the Decapolis and up to Tyre and Sidon and down through the Judean desert – all made possible because of Herod’s genius. He built at all the right places and really created the infrastructure that allow ultimately – the gospel to spread like crazy. And you thought he only killed babies. You don’t get that big without doing big things. You might have judged him as a baby killer; this post might not even convince you to think differently about Herod – but that’s not the point.
The point is – I only had this shallow concept of who I thought Herod was, but as I learned more about him and the area, I have come to realize that he was pretty key in spreading the gospel. They didn’t call him Herod the Great for nothing. He might not have done it intentionally, but God definitely allowed him to create the right environment for his message to spread throughout all the world. Herod made that possible.
It reminds me of the passage at the end of Genesis addressed to Joseph. What others meant for evil – God meant for good. There’s a definite theme in the Scriptures of God working in that way. I am being honest with you on my journey. I think wrongly and judge so quickly so many things that I don’t know. If there’s anything this Israel trip has taught me, it’s that I have created an identity based on what I think I know and it just shows me how much work my identity needs.