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HEROD'S LAST CHRISTMAS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, December 7, 2003


"Herod will seek the young child to destroy him" (Matthew 2:13).


Communist leaders in China and Southeast Asia are afraid of Christianity. They treat it with deadly seriousness. Dr. Paul Marshall says,

In 1992 the Chinese state-run press noted that "the church played an important role in the [overthrow of Communism] in Eastern Europe and warned, "If China does not want such a scene to be repeated in its land, it must strangle the baby while it is in the manger."

With this evil biblical allusion, the Chinese leadership adopted [King] Herod as its role model (Paul Marshall, Ph.D., Their Blood Cries Out, Word Publishing, 1997, p. 11).

As I will show in tonight's sermon ("Persecuted for Christ!") the secular Communist state in China has repressed Christianity, tortured, imprisoned and slaughtered Christians by the thousands, since Communism took over that nation in 1949. The persecution of Christians in China continues today. The evil spirit that controlled Herod is at work trying to destroy the followers of Christ, not only in China, but throughout the world.

"Herod will seek the young child to destroy him" 
      (Matthew 2:13).

King Herod's rejection and hatred of the new-born Christ is inherent in the very nature of our sinful, fallen human race. The Bible says,

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we [the human race] hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).

When Jesus said, "They hated me without a cause" (John 15:25), He meant without a logical cause. But He knew that there was a spiritual cause behind the fact that mankind, like Herod, has always "despised and rejected" Him.

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be"
     (Romans 8:7).

Man, by his very fallen and ruined nature, despises and rejects Christ and His followers, even here in the Western world, even here in America.

"Herod will seek the young child to destroy him"
      (Matthew 2:13).

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand once said, "Man is always a traitor [to Christ] deep within his innermost being" (Voice of the Martyrs, November 2003, p. 11). Therefore, when the Bible says,

"Herod will seek the young child to destroy him"
      (Matthew 2:13)

it is not only a description of King Herod, but of fallen, unconverted man in general. If we view Herod as a representative of lost humanity, it will explain a great deal about our culture today.

I. First, Christ is rejected by secular America.

Patrick J. Buchanan gives a rundown on the way Christianity has been squeezed out of our popular culture.

Going back fifty years, the Supreme Count has inflicted an almost uninterrupted string of defeats upon [Christianity]. In 1948, voluntary religious instruction was outlawed in public schools. In 1962, school prayer went. In 1963, voluntary daily reading from the Bible was declared [illegal]. In 1980, a Kentucky law that called for posting the Ten Commandments on classroom walls was overturned…In 1985, Alabama's "moment of silence" at the start of the school day was declared [illegal]. In 1989, the Supreme Court ordered a Nativity scene removed from the grounds of the Allegheny County Courthouse outside of Pittsburgh. In 1992, all prayers at high school graduations were prohibited. In 2000, students were forbidden to pray over the loudspeakers at high school games…In 1996, the Ninth Circuit [Court] ruled that a large cross, erected on a war memorial in a public park in Eugene, Oregon, violated the Constitution. In 1999…The Eleventh Circuit [Court] outlawed any invocations, prayers, or benedictions at high school graduations…In May 2001, [the Supreme Court] upheld a…decision ordering Elkhart, Indiana to remove a six-foot granite pillar engraved with the Ten Commandments from the lawn of City Hall. The pillar had stood for over forty years. By six to three, the [Supreme] Court refused to hear the town's appeal (Patrick J. Buchanan, The Death of the West, Thomas Dunne Books, 2002, pp. 184-185)…

By the twenty-first century, the de-Christianizing of our public life was complete. Easter celebrations, Nativity scenes, Christmas carols, and Christian books, stories, pageants, and holidays had all but vanished from public schools and the public square (ibid., p. 188).

And the rejection of Christ doesn't end merely by removing the Ten Commandments and prayer from public institutions. The modern Herods want to restrict and control the churches themselves. Dr. Tom White says, "I believe…censorship of religious history will come to America in the form of a religious hate law within the next 15 years" (The Voice of the Martyrs, November 2003, p. 9).

I have just read a newspaper article titled, "Residents Upset by Churches in Neighborhood" (Los Angeles Daily News, December 3, 2003, pp. 1, 21). This news story tells of upper-middle-class residents in North Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles, who are trying to stop a Baptist church, a Presbyterian church, and a Catholic church from meeting in their neighborhood. The article says,

The Baptist church continues to hold services despite having been cited for operating without a…permit [and we thought that the First Amendment to the Constitution, "not prohibiting the free exercise" of religion, was our permit!]. (ibid., p. 21).

One North Hills resident said she is "very, very, very opposed" to these churches being in her neighborhood (ibid.). Another woman said, "We have churches infringing all over the place" (ibid., p. 1). "Infringing" means "intruding, or trespassing." This woman thinks that churches should not intrude or trespass into her neighborhood! Not only is the message of Christ outlawed in the public square, but there are people who don't want churches to exist at all - at least not anywhere near them! This is an increasing phenomenon in our nation. Christianity is being squeezed and pushed out of our culture, just as Herod tried to get rid of Jesus on the first Christmas. The Bible calls Jesus, "Him whom man despiseth…him whom the nation abhorreth" (Isaiah 49:7).

II. Second, rejection of Christ produces the same unhappy
Christmas today that it did for Herod.

"Herod will seek the young child to destroy him" 
      (Matthew 2:13)

When I read about Herod each Christmas, I always feel a peculiar sadness. He missed the joy of worshipping Jesus with the wise men. He lived a bitter, dark and hopeless life. Then the Bible says, "When Herod was dead" (Matthew 2:19). He lived and died without ever knowing Christ as his Saviour.

This strange king became so obsessed with materialism and insecurity that he murdered his own wife and eldest son. He was afraid of losing the throne to them, just as he was afraid of losing it to Christ. The American People's Encyclopedia says, "It was in the last year of his life that he ordered the 'massacre of the innocents.'" This was Herod's last Christmas. He died without the love of family or friends. He died without God - and without salvation in Christ. He was alone - without God - on his last Christmas!

Herod reminds me of Lionel Barrymore's Mr. Potter, in "It's a Wonderful Life" - a man who loved money, a materialist, without God, and without a real friend in the world. Herod reminds me of Scrooge in Dickens' Christmas story - but without redemption. Herod reminds me of so many people in our nation, who live only for pleasure, who have no God, who have no real friends, who will sit in front of a TV or computer this Christmas - lost in cyberspace, Christless and alone.

"Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Ephesians 4:18).

There is no joy at Christmas without Christ. There is no Christian gladness or festivity without the local church! The poet T. S. Eliot said, "A people without religion will in the end find that it has nothing to live for." Nothing to live for! Ah, cold and cruel "holiday" - without Christ!

Christmas is the loneliest time of the year for many young people. They get you all revved up for "the holidays" and then Christmas comes - and there's nothing there for you. "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas." "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams." Christmas is only a dream for many young people in our cold and Godless nation! Christmas is the loneliest time of year for those who do not know Christ, and who do not have a "church home."

Oh, how I wish that King Herod had humbled himself! How I wish that he had followed the Wise Men when they came to worship Christ!

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him" (Matthew 2:11).

How I wish, for Herod's own sake, that he had been with them! How I wish that all the lost people in this lonely city would come to Christ! How I wish that they would come with us, home to church, on Christmas Sunday, and on Christmas Eve!

With every fiber of my being I say to you, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!"

We plead with you to come in - out of the darkness! We beg you to come in - out of the cold! We exhort you, with tenderness and empathy, come in - to Christ and be saved! And we say, come in - to the house of God on Christmas Sunday and Christmas Eve!

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him" (Matthew 2:11).

Come to Bethlehem, and see Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

See within a manger laid Jesus, Lord of heav'n and earth!
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, With us sing our Saviour's birth.
    ("Angels We Have Heard on High," source unknown).

O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
    ("O Come, All Ye Faithful," translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 2:1-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Angels We Have Heard On High" (source unknown).


THE OUTLINE OF

HEROD'S LAST CHRISTMAS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"Herod will seek the young child to destroy him" (Matthew 2:13).

(Isaiah 53:3; John 15:25; Romans 8:7)

I.   Christ is rejected by secular America, Isaiah 49:7.

II.  Rejection of Christ produces the same unhappy Christmas today
that it did for Herod, Matthew 2:19; Ephesians 4:18;
Matthew 2:11.