The Christmas Story from a Different Angle

By Scott Webster and Steve Schultz
Dec 16, 2016

Christmas has many facets: spending time with family, cooking holiday recipes, decorating the house, extremes of consumerism, football playoffs watched or backyard games played (the turkey bowl), etc. In this article, we want to view it from a different angle entirely – as a violent clash of Kingdoms that was political at its core. It’s not a stretch to look at political events in light of the birth of Christ. Matthew 2 begins, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod...” and immediately the first Christmas is set squarely in a political context.

The events of Jesus‘ birth and early years of life were couched within political intrigue, murderous plots, acts of genocidal rage, state intelligence activities, issues of immigration and covert border crossings, a visiting delegation of foreign dignitaries and the census and tax decrees of an empire. We must be aware of the actual introduction of the King into the earth and the drama which unfolded in a political and social context. The narrative opens with the empire conducting a census and levying a special tax upon the colonies (Luke 1:21), an exercise intended not just to raise revenue from the province but as a way for Rome to conduct political surveillance of a potentially dissident colony.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.“ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people‘s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,“ they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' (Matthew 2:1-6, NIV)

Herod Aligned with an Impure "Church"

Herod’s first action was to gather the leaders of the church and ask them for the location of the birth of Christ, and Matthew records that they provided this without reservation. This was a large faction of people in Israel; it consisted of the Chief Priests (national religious leaders), doctors of the law (local leaders who judged and ruled in everyday life), and the people (the wider group of believers). The majority demographic in Israel put their trust in political solutions and aligned with carnal power.

Herod’s summoning of the group, and their swift and favorable response, implies an already existent relationship. This wasn’t the first time they had talked, nor was attacking Christ the only agenda they agreed on. How is it they lacked discernment that Herod was part of a satanic conspiracy to kill Christ? It is interesting to consider some of the reasons the religious leaders found themselves in such an odd alignment with a political agenda that was intended to assassinate Christ:

  • When Herod asked for answers from the Bible, did they think they were in influencing him towards personal salvation by conducting a Bible study in his palace?

  • Did they possess religious pride which made them jump at the chance to be on the president’s board of spiritual advisors?

  • Was their (mis)understanding of the Scriptures so couched within a nationalistic framework that they were convinced their efforts to in influence the political leaders would help restore the nation?

  • Did they embrace Herod because he was the least of two political evils? In their minds, did they have only two bad choices, and aligning with Herod was far better than selling out to Rome?

Statecraft

Upon being empowered by the compromised church Herod was able to launch an assault using the powers of the state he ruled over. These powers were inherent to the standard systems of statecraft which still exist in nations today, including:

A Need to Know Basis - Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star appeared (Matthew 2:7). This was a secret meeting between Herod and the Magi. The king didn’t want anyone else to know about his gathering of information, probably because he didn’t want others to see into his true intentions, so this was a clandestine operation that was managed very carefully by Herod

Political Manipulation - He (Herod) sent them to Bethlehem...(Matthew 2:8). Politicians who feign piety, but whose true motivation is to extend their own political influence, have always existed. Herod claimed an authority that wasn’t his; he was a politician who piggy-backed onto the mission of the church and used it for his own selfish agenda. It was as if God and country were one thing, but nations seek to perpetuate themselves, while true Kingdom believers begin by dying to their own desires. They are two separate and distinct entities, and the Church must separate and distinguish itself as an agent of God and not as a political party.

Disinformation - He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him" (Matthew 2:8). Herod lied. He said he wanted to know where Christ was born so he could worship him when his true intention was to kill the new King. When the state makes deliberate attempts to deceive, it is called disinformation, and every state does it while the Kingdom advances through Truth.

Genocide - When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi (Matthew 2:16). Herod used the power of his security forces (army and police) to conduct state-sponsored genocide, something predicted by Jeremiah 700 years before when the prophet looked into the spirit realm and heard the sound of Rachel weeping and lamenting for her children, but unable to be comforted because they were no more (Jeremiah 31:15).

God's Protection Factor

Actionable Intelligence that Bypassed State Surveillance - And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route (Matthew 2:12). The Lord gave the wise men clear intelligence regarding Herod’s motivation and his true purposes, and they acted on this insight immediately. Instead of returning to Herod or traveling back by the same route, they returned a different way to avoid state surveillance.

Political Refugee - An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,“ he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him" (Matthew 2:13). God warned Joseph in a dream of the impending assassination attempt of the boy and told Joseph to flee with his family and reside under the jurisdiction of a foreign government where there were no warrants for his arrest and probably no treaties of extradition. Jesus lived in Egypt as a ruler in exile while waiting for the existing administration to perish, fulfilling the prophecy, Out of Egypt I called my son (Hosea 11:1).

Evading Homeland Security - So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt (Matthew 2:14). The family’s migration from Israel to Egypt was done covertly at night to avoid the border and customs checkpoints that would trip the homeland security mechanisms of the state.

Re-Entrance and Distance from Federal Authority - After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child‘s life are dead...“ Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene" (Matthew 2:19- 20, 22b-23). Upon the death of Herod the Great, God told Joseph to return to Israel but directed him away from the center of federal power resident in the capital city.

Principles We Can Observe

The Mastery of God Over Earthly Events

 Assessing the odds as if this was purely a natural clash of kingdoms looks totally unfair. Herod was a Machiavellian king who would stop at nothing to extinguish all rivals. He had soldiers and spies spread throughout Israel, and all the state‘s resources were aligned against a poor family who gave birth in a stable and then had to flee to Egypt and become political refugees. The prophets predicted centuries before how God would do it, and their utterances came to pass in Matthew Chapter 2: a) Christ would be born in Bethlehem (v 4), b) God would call his Son out of Egypt (v 15), c) genocide of children would cause weeping and lamentation, but Christ would be spared (v 17), and d) He would be called a Nazarene, i.e., He would settle in the Northern province (v 23). Even with this forewarning, darkness could do nothing to stop the purposes of God from being birthed into the earth. All God needed was a few humble and obedient humans, and they took on the entire satanic structure which used Herod and his soldiers who acted in futility against the Lord.

God Requires Maturity in His People

 In total contrast to Herod, there were authentic believers partnering with God and bringing forth His purposes in the earth. Mary was quite young and her family very poor, but she evidenced faith and maturity when spoken to by Gabriel, the highest level of angelic messenger. Joseph walked in death to self, putting aside his own opinions and concepts of honor when God told him to take Mary as his wife because her pregnancy was supernatural in origin. Everyone could see a bright star in the sky, but foreigners–the Magi– had insight into what the sign in the heavens meant. Even working class shepherds received the announcement that it was a season of rejoicing and redemption as they stood outside in the fields. The dullest ones in Israel seemed to be the religious leaders, like Zechariah the priest who was plainly spoken to from heaven but being so hard of heart he was struck dumb for nine months while John grew in Elizabeth’s womb.

Just as Jesus was born in the time of Herod, the Body of Christ is now being resourced by God in a time of great political instability. We are required to move away from every form of faith that is not authentic and anchored in Christ, and we must reject the deception of political solutions to the crises gripping the earth. It’s a day for the Church to rise and shine!


Comments

Ken | USA | December 16, 2016

Br. Scott,
I just want you to know how much I appreciate the insight that you share on kingdom matters, and prophetic things. I recognize the voice of God in what your sharing, and I consider it treasure.

Wayne Brown | Trinidad and Tobago | December 16, 2016

Scott always moves the event from a story to a real life situation carefully highlighting all the issues. My thoughts are what is God doing now that I am ignorant to. Here was Jesus the son of God coming into the earth and only a handful of people were aware. Some persons heard something but never investigated, never enquired and missed what God was doing. We can be so lost and immersed into our tradition or every day routine that we miss What God is doing. Proverbs 25:2 is important as it admonishes us to search and enquire. Excellent article Scott.

Isaac Brown | United States | December 16, 2016

As Wayne described, I see Scott’s article as a call to be aware in this season.  This is not a time to be ignorant or to ignore the speaking of God to each of us.  The article highlights the fact that darkness is strategic and seeks to use the system and structures of the “Babylonian” system to subvert God’s purposes.  But despite the size and intensity of the systems the enemy utilizes all that is required of us to partner with God’s ultimate victory is obedience and humility.  Let that be us!  Let us have that faith.

xavier usen | Nigeria | December 16, 2016

Its amazing to read this write-up from Scott at this time of the season. This has taken us out of the yearly rehearsal of a story that has become rhetoric and lacking the flavor of spiritual excitement. Am so blessed to understand the spot-on-target insight of the spiritual dimension of what should be expected and appreciated by us. Thank you so much for this revelation of the meaning of the season!

Damisha | Antigua and Barbuda | December 16, 2016

This article was so insightful. Beyond what was written I got a greater appreciation for the structure of God’s interaction with man and his word that never returns to him void no matter the conditions of the earth.

Mitch Moe | USA | December 16, 2016

Thank you Scott for this relevant and fresh perspective. I greatly enjoyed reading it and will be thinking of its’ context when I talk with others this season. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Stephen Johnson | USA | December 16, 2016

Great parallels to our day! Thank God for allowing us to partner with Him in the joyous war and in reaping the spoils of war!

Michelle Francis | United States | December 17, 2016

This perspective highlights the political climate and brings it’s reality to modern day terms. Great insight and expansion of thoughts and ponderings. Thank you.

Chiquita Bryan | Trinidad and Tobago | December 17, 2016

Like Ken, I too really appreciate your articles. I always look forward to getting these insights.
It deepens the reality of consistently walking in obedience to Him as the crisis intensifies.

Shalom | Nigeria | December 18, 2016

As stated in this insightful article, Mat. 2:1-6, it was recorded that Herod was DISTURBED and ALL JERUSALEM WITH HIM. The latter part “....and all Jerusalem with him…”(parallel of a large group of believers) caught my attention at the onset of reading. And the reason for the disturbance(for these group of believers),faith anchored in the the deception of political solutions-an utter rejection of true faith which rests in the redemptive activities and sovereignty of God.
Furthermore, reading this brings light,freshness, comfort, sheer rejoicing, carefulness and instruction and a willingness to give myself even more to obedience as God’s purposes speedingly invade(s) the earth. It’s really a thing of beauty to be alive now.

Danielle McDougall | United Kingdom | December 18, 2016

Very insightful! ‘darkness could do nothing to stop the purposes of God from being birthed into the earth’. We see the spiritual mobilization behind the earthly events surrounding the birth of Jesus. As it was then so it is now. God rendered the enemy powerless to stop the advance of His purpose. Almighty, all powerful, GOOD GOD is with us.

Roy Kalangi | Vanuatu | December 19, 2016

Thanks scott for the insights in to these event, the intent of God is what to see and do accordingly our part as Joseph and the wise men did
thanks

Beth | Kenya | December 19, 2016

Absolutely insightful article and Yes we the Church arise and shine in a day of deep darkness

Jackson Ochieng | | December 19, 2016

The one thing that stands out in this article is the sort of “real-time” application of this word regarding the birth of Christ. It is refreshing to have such an authentic perspective that recalibrates our mentalities about “Christmas”.

Tawjna Williams | Jamaica | December 19, 2016

This newsletter is the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom that is appropriate to the 21st Century. It is amazing how God is opening our eyes and all we have to do is read and receive with pure hearts. Like a fellow commentator said, what is God doing now that I am not aware of? May I never be so tied to this earthly culture that I cannot perceive what God is doing. Again, this perspective highlights how God continues to use the base things of this world to confound the earthly wise! God proves time and time again that the Kingdom is as strong as the total obedience of one man - all the plots and plans of hell even with warning cannot stop God’s purpose in motion. Thanks Scott Webster for these insights. May God continue to bless the works of your hands.

Chris Trujillo | United States | December 20, 2016

The battle of the last day is for sight! We will not be foolish and hard of heart but will continue to cry out for sight!

Lisa Hixon | Antigua | December 21, 2016

Thank you Scott! Very relevant to our time and season. Very encouraging for me as I continue to walk securely in the ways of God, hearimg his voice and obeying him. I will not compromise with the systems of this world for any personal gain or personal agendas. God is the answer to everything I need.

Jamie Hose | United States | December 21, 2016

Thank you for making the parallel of what was God was doing then, so clear and connected to what God is doing now. Christmas and other holidays have a way of creating a certain flow of life but behind it all, God is moving and at work. The part of our need to be mature strikes me and in that, highlighted, is the need to be looking trough things to see the movement of God. We can see so much inside of this story which means there is so much inside of so many other stories if we will stop and consider.

Rashema James | Antigua and Barbuda | December 22, 2016

Awesome article, God is the same yesterday, today and forever comes to mind. His sovereignty always reigns supreme. Alpha and Omega indeed, he knows the beginning from the end. Can we hear his voice, do we see him in the small and large things daily? Our reality is the unseen realm, the thing behind the things. Are we looking deep enough to hear the way to walk in? How strong or big is our faith, our season has changed and so should we. We hear you Lord and we obey your every command. Awesome Reality we live in, Awesome God we serve!!!!!!

Ingrid Rizzolo | USA | December 23, 2016

Such insights are needed for accurate perspectives in a time when political perspectives are inadequate.

Antonia Walcott | Trinidad and Tobago | December 23, 2016

Both the article itself and the follow-up comments have me thinking alot and requesting that my eyes are open.

Many believers were disturbed…....having faith and protecting “what God was doing” was not comfortable in any form or fashion. In the natural viewing of things, many of thier choices were very “illogical”. Joseph getting married and standing against people around pointing fingers…..moving constantly to save your family because you had “chemical reactions” in your head while sleeping (dreaming)......living in a land that is broken and the larger church group is trying to find solutions in the political system….........

Wow….....

Elise Haynes | Trinidad and Tobago | December 26, 2016

AMEN…..AMEN

Horace Barton | Trinidad and Tobago | December 28, 2016

I received this Scott version of the Christmas message joy in my heart. Even though The sacred message has indeed manifest in all sphere, it was never ment to be Politicized, commercialised nor used for religious principles. Isaiah 9:6-7. This passage clearly indicates that the Kingdom/message wil remain true and authentic forever. Thanks Scott.

Kesha Dowe | Canada | December 28, 2016

I appreciate the deep spiritual explanation of the scripture. This definitely puts into perspective what the Kingdom of God truly represented surrounding the story of Jesus’ birth. Thank you for sharing this article.

Colette A. Maistry | South Africa | December 30, 2016

Mr. Webster, I would like to share my gratitude with you for bringing light, perception and understanding, to a topic that my family and I have been speaking about for years in the past. I could personally see beyond all the festivities and that there was in fact, ‘no merry in Christmas’. Thank you for putting my thoughts from the spirit, into words that I can express in the natural. As a 15 year old, I can stand with authourity and insight against the norms of the world’s ‘silly season’, knowing that my brother’s stand next to me as we accelerate forward into the future. “We don’t know how to exist, unless we read the word of God!”-DNW

Connor | New Zealand | January 7, 2017

Thanks Scott, this is great insight into how we as believers should be postured regarding ‘christmas.’ Not much festivity at all from the scripture, but as you say, God working masterfully to invade earth with the power of heaven! This needs to be our emphasis as we negotiate the cultural norms around us.

What an honour it is to be a part of the true church of Christ. Praise God!!

Michelle N. Joseph | Antigua and Barbuda | January 8, 2017

Great article. This just continues to bring home the fact that God’s purpose is direct and nothing and no one can stop it’s fulfillment. Aligning ourselves to His will, just obeying and responding is all He needs. God is indeed sovereign, His will must and will be done, regardless of time, season or era.

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