When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah 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 shepherd my people Israel.’” Matthew 2:4-6
Herod’s disturbed fear deepened. He called together his most trusted clerics. They spoke back words about King David (from 2 Samuel), and a verse from Micah that foretold where the Messiah would be born. That Messiah would lead God’s chosen people. He would be a ruler, THE ruler.
Judea. Bethlehem. They were practically in Herod’s backyard. He felt even more disturbed, especially since all this had arisen thanks to the visit of the wise men from the east.
There are over three hundred prophecies that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, the Messiah. It is nearly statistically impossible for even a handful of them to be fulfilled in any group of people, let alone in one man. According to https://nickcady.org/2020/02/18/the-statistical-probability-of-jesus-fulfilling-the-messianic-prophecies/, for Jesus to have fulfilled just 8 of these prophecies, the chance was 1 X 10 to the 17th power. That is one in 100,000,000,000,000,000. For Him to have fulfilled 48 of them, it is 1 X 10 to the 157th power (or on one in 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).
Picture the zeros behind ‘one in three hundred.’ Almost impossible. But for God, nothing is impossible. No odds are too great. Just in one sentence in today’s verses, three are mentioned (Bethlehem, Judah, ruler of God’s people (Israel)). Even that, given the population of the Levant at that time, would have been impossible for any one man. But no other man was the baby Jesus. And it happened. It happened, was confirmed by wise non-Jewish visitors from a faraway land, and was proven by the leaders of the Jewish faith.
No wonder Herod was troubled.
No wonder non-believers today live with troubled hearts. I believe they do; I’ve never known a happy atheist, and I’ve known many. It must trouble them deeply to see proofs that their non-belief is both unwise and even unlikely. It’d because their non-belief is really just self-worship. For one man to be born as Messiah would prove all the non-belief in the world is the most foolish thing possible. To have the statistical impossibility of it happening illustrated, then to understand how it did happen, would be disturbing and frightening. I hope they see the better way.
Because it greatly disturbed Herod. Because Herod knew what it meant. A new ruler of God’s chosen people was alive, and he was nearby. And it disturbed him greatly.
For more reading: 2 Samuel 5:2, Micah 5:2, John 7:42, Matthew 2:7
Lord, You are the miracle of Christmas. You are human impossibility made real through the love that only You are and give.