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When we talk about the Savior, the beginning of His life or the end of it, we often also talk about the people who sought after Him. There were plenty of those people even when He was born. Shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the wise men were some of these people.
But there was another man who sought after Christ in a not-so-positive manner.
Herod was a king in Judea underneath the umbrella of Roman rule. In Jewish tradition, his “Jewishness” was questioned, and he was known as a cruel king. His parents were converts, and there were some indications that he ascribed to the religion despite the general displeasure of the Jews over his ruling.
This is the stage that was set for Christ to enter in.
Herod was not known to be overly kind, and his right to rule had been questioned even before Christ had come. When the wise men came looking for Christ, they asked the “king” where the King was. For a man seeking to legitimize his claim to the throne, this was unlikely to be taken well.
He wanted to know where this King would be born so that he could kill off his competition. He wanted to kill the plan before it even started. Interestingly enough, Herod only fulfilled prophecy with his tragic hissy fit (Jeremiah 31:15). Herod played into the plan despite his fervent attempts to destroy it.
I also find it interesting that Herod sought after chief priests and scribes for knowledge about where Christ would be.
Matthew 2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
Herod legitimized the scriptures by looking for truth there; he wanted the religious leaders to search and find the truth. Then he attempted to change the truth of what would occur; that takes some serious self-confidence.
A type of Satan
We often talk about types of Christ, but I actually found a type of Satan this week. In many ways, Herod mimicked the devil himself.
Satan, like Herod, has a lot of power in this world, but his legitimacy is only so-so. His power is definitely limited to what people give him. Like Herod “being Jewish”, Satan used to be one of us. He was a part of our family.
Also like Herod, Satan attempts to foil the plans of God. He attempted it in the Garden of Gethsemane and he attempts it more and more each day. Satan learned the Plan of Salvation like the rest of us; he had God’s word every day when he dwelt with us in the premortal existence. He knows what is being said by our prophets, and I would be surprised if he didn’t know what was in the scriptures.
The end result
So what happened in Satan’s and Herod’s plans?
Herod attempted to kill Christ but completely missed. He caused a whole lot of unnecessary heartache, and I would imagine that he’s paying a heavy price for that. If Herod decides to repent, I can’t imagine that it would be an easy path to travel.
As for the babies and the families that mourned them…they’re all okay now. In fact, I would guess that they’re more than okay.
Herod accomplished nothing but his own misery in the end. What’s so ironic about this is the fact that Herod would have been much more miserable if he had succeeded in destroying the Plan of Salvation. It would not have brought him the happiness he was seeking.
Satan’s plan has been foiled in many ways. He sought to destroy God’s Plan of Salvation when he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tries to destroy it on a daily basis by destroying us. Like Herod, Satan caused a lot of pain, but his attempts were in vain. The Plan of Salvation continued on. In fact, Satan further propelled the Plan of Salvation. He brought about the necessary fall, and he delivers the necessary opposition we need to grow. Ironically, Satan contributes to the Plan of Salvation. If Satan had accomplished his mission of destroying the Plan of Salvation, it wouldn’t have made him happy. Or it would have made him a sick, mangled, twisted kind of happy that doesn’t make life worth living.
In our day
There are differing levels to which we see this occur in our day.
There are those who want to literally destroy the church; they would love to see it completely eradicated. And on a smaller level, there are those who willfully rebel against specific commandments or aspects of the plan.
Either way, it does not destroy or alter the plan. We only destroy ourselves against it. And the harder we push against it, the more we are harmed in the process.
If those who sought the destruction of the church succeeded, the prophecies regarding the church in the last days would be false and void. If the prophecies were incorrect, God would not be perfect and everything would change. What would our bodies look like if God ceased to be God? Would there be an earth? I don’t know. What I do know is that the people who succeeded in the destruction of the church would be far more miserable than anything they can currently conceive. That is precisely the definition of “kicking against the pricks.”
On a smaller level, we have all been guilty of rebelling against aspects of the plan. We know better, and we have willfully chosen to ignore it. We push our knowledge to the back of our mind and proceed with our life. Sometimes we do this because it’s easier than seeking true happiness. Other times we are trying to convince ourselves that we will be happy, that it’s worth it.
Regardless of how good it feels at this moment, we really are kicking against the pricks.
That phrase is Greek. Essentially, an ox would be poked in the right direction with a pointy prod. Sometimes it would rebel and kick against it. The harder it kicks, the more it is driven into the flesh. The harder it will be to pull out. The longer it will take to heal.
When you have found that prod deep within your flesh from years of pushing against the Plan of Salvation, it will probably hurt as it gets pulled out. You might even want to stop trying to pull it out, but the pain is worth the healing.
Sometimes our rebellions are small and we don’t really feel them. Those are still dangerous because they make us believe that we can continue on in that direction and it still won’t hurt.
Regardless of how much you’ve kicked, healing is always possible.
I feel like it’s important to note that I’m not talking about weaknesses. Kicking against the pricks is rebellion, not flaws that we are trying to overcome.
When I yell at my kids or find myself picking at an old grudge I thought I was over, it will still hurt me. There is no denying that. There will still be a small wound, but those are easy to heal. Note the guilt and move forward. When you make a mistake (not open rebellion), don’t pick up the stick and hurt yourself more with it. Move forward.
The Plan of Salvation is here to stay. Earthly kings have no power over this. Satan has no power over this. Regardless of how badly we want to find happiness in a different way, the Plan of Salvation is the truth. We can learn from the unfortunate examples of Herod and Satan. We can learn that we only hurt ourselves when we try to fight it. God knew the truth, and He was kind enough to share it with us. He follows it, and He wants us to have the same blessings.