But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11
We visited the Vatican on a hot July day, along with thousands of tourists from all over the world who swarmed into St. Peter’s Square.
As we shuffled our way down one gallery of the Vatican museum, it seemed impossible to appreciate the contents. I peeked over heads, trying to capture the essence of the vast collection of tapestries lining the walls. I strained my neck to look at the paintings, resembling carvings, which covered the ceiling.
Then one tapestry caught my eye. In it, soldiers held swords over the throats of babies. Women gasped and fainted. The gruesome scene, jarred with the other tranquil and celebratory weavings.
I realized, however, it was not so out-of-place after all. The tapestry told the story of Herod’s attempt to kill God’s child, the baby Jesus.
Herod wanted to overturn God’s plan.
The king went into a rage because the magi had thwarted his scheme. He ordered the massacre of all baby boys under the age of two in Bethlehem during the time of Jesus’ birth. No wonder the mothers wailed in distress. The event is unbearable to think about.
We know the rest of the story. Herod failed in his attempt to kill the baby, Jesus. God warned Joseph. He and Mary and the child fled to Egypt; to safety.
God’s plan stood firm.
Herod misunderstood. Nothing and no one stands in the way of God’s perfect intentions.
God’s purposes are far greater than we can grasp.
The Kingdom of God is far greater.
Herod was worried about losing his earthly kingdom. However, God wasn’t interested in usurping a mere man. God didn’t intend for Jesus to rule simply as a mortal king.
Human rule had been tried before. One leader had been a man after God’s own heart. Yet, a long line of kings had not been good; many had been bad.
Even though the Sovereign Lord was the best King the people could have, they insisted on having an earthly king, to be like the nations around them. 1 Samuel 8:4-7
The long history of Israel and Judah’s kings is one of failure to rule well, or worship their real King.
So, even though Jesus followed the line of royalty, God’s intention was far more significant than Jesus ruling over a people and their land.
The Kingdom of God rules in people’s hearts.
It’s unlikely you’re a monarch, living in fear like Herod that your power and dominion will be taken away from you.
But, often we like to govern our own lives, to do our own thing, to be in control. We like to sit on the throne of our own hearts.
Jesus said we are to submit our hearts to him; to give up being in charge and wanting our own way.
The Kingdom of God is evident in people.
The Kingdom of God is people who pray for God’s name, not their own names, to be honored.
It is when we don’t do things for our own fame, but for God’s name to be glorified.
Kingdom people don’t just worship the Lord; they are humble and repentant before their Sovereign.
Jesus’ Kingdom is people who are not independent but dependent on him. It is admitting we can’t do it on our own, but only with our Father’s help. It’s not about what we do, but what our Lord does for us.
It is less requesting what we want in prayer, but saying: Your will be done.
It is not what God needs to do for us, but what we can do for our King, no matter how small, uncomfortable and unpleasant it might be.
This is God’s plan that stands firm and continues through all generations — an eternal kingdom of people with pure hearts.
If only Herod had realized he had nothing to lose but everything to gain from going down on his knees before the baby Jesus.
Are you losing out on God’s best for you by demanding to have your own way?
Do you ever expect praise or recognition for that acts of service you do for the Lord?
What might be different in your life if only you realized you have nothing to lose but everything to gain from going down on your knees before the baby Jesus?
How will you get on your knees this Christmas and worship the King with your heart?
What opportunities will you have the holiday season to bring glory to God?