Summary: This sermon starts with the comparison of two kings and ends with a very hard hitting drive into the great commission, showing us that we are serve, (with power), the lowest of the low. Read on and enjoy this one!!!
This sermon (2nd Sunday after Christmas) was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole,
Ayrshire, Scotland on the 4th January 2015 by Gordon McCulloch
(a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
My sermon two weeks ago came to an abrupt end as there was just so much to say; and during that sermon I made some profound statements which need further explanation, non more so than referring to the fact that we need a little fear in our lives to keep us close to the Lord who loves us.
Now the word fear here is maybe the wrong term, maybe I should have used the word respect, or reverence, or great awe because 2nd Timothy 1 verse 7 tells us that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind".
So the fear which I spoke therefore is not this type of fear, but a fear more akin to humility, a fear that results in strength and power, and I can show you this by contrast, by examining a man consumed with fear that originates from weakness; and how the fruits of this fear are rotten to the core, leaving a wake of hurt and destruction for those who come into contact with this type of selfish ambition.
The man I refer to is of course Herod the Great, ... and despite the fact that he had everything going for him, ... he was not content in himself, in fact ... the fear in him continually told him he was in need, and totally insecure.
Herod was born into a well-connected family, and Herod himself was destined for a life of power. At 25, he became the governor of Galilee, a position supported, and probably appointed by the Romans in an attempt to control the unsettled Jews, ... because Herod was the man to control them through fear and intimidation.
Herod was also known as the ... “King of the Jews”, a titled he loved, but it was a title the Jews themselves hated, because Herod was anything but religious, ... Herod bowed to no one, ... he was King, and no one had any right to challenge him. In reality, he was weaker that the weak, ... displaying the following characteristics of weakness: ... ...
1. Preoccupation with Power.
The first characteristic was his pre-occupation with power. Have you noticed that some people who are weak, are totally obsessed with power; ... the wee man syndrome springs to mind, ... they do not seek power because they are strong, they seek power to support themselves, ... and Herod is the perfect example, Herod was addicted to power.
Herod could also be described as able, cunning, and cruel. Herod was extremely capable as a ruler: his first achievements was to wipe out several bands of guerrillas who were terrorizing the countryside, and his second was by using subtle diplomacy, ... to make peace with many hostile factions.
Herod was also very cunning, ... for he arranged all his relationships as conduits of power, and his craftiness had no bounds as he had a morbid distrust of anyone who might take his throne from him, and so he was also a very cruel man, ... and brutally removed anyone who got in his way. Over the years he killed many people, including his brother-in-law, his mother-in-law, two of his sons, his wife and many leading rabbis. He murdered to stay in power. ... Human life meant absolutely nothing to him, and his genocide grew in proportion to the amount of power he possessed.
2. Preoccupation with Possessions.
The second characteristic of weakness that is displayed in Herod is his pre-occupied with possessions, ... as he wanted to own everything; ... for example, ... and this is quite a feat, ... he built entire cities with state of the art architecture.
He also built 7 palaces and 7 theatres'; one of which seated 9,500 people, that is nearly three times the population of Maybole. ... ... He also built stadiums for sporting events, stadiums larger than Hampden Park in Glasgow. ... His most famous and ambitious project was the expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem which was not completed until 20 years after his death.
3. Preoccupation with Paranoia.
Yet with all this success, we see another trait of weakness and that was his Paranoia; ... he was beset with paranoia ever since an enemy poisoned his father, ... so he went to great lengths to protect himself; commissioning thousands of slaves to build over 10 emergency fortresses, all heavily armed and well provisioned, and anyone with a plot to dethrone Him was eliminated.
In many ways his reign was a remarkable feat of achievement, and he did reign for over 40 years as a tyrant, ... but his reign came to an abrupt end when he clashed with another king, ... a king who was also called, "The King of the Jews". ... ... ...