I was thinking the other day about Herod and the palace he had built just a few miles southeast of Bethlehem. Apparently it was quite a palace and resembled a volcano. It was well fortified and the tower(s) were such that a person (Herod) could go into it and be safe from attacking enemies. Historically Herod the Great was buried there, but excavations have not unearthed a body or tomb.
It was quite a structure and being only about six (or less) miles from Bethlehem it was probably visible from parts of the little town. And it is quite likely that the shepherds from Luke’s gospel could easily have admired the structure from their sheep’s grazing hillsides.
So here is a great palace fortress built by a crazy king just a short distance from the stable where Christ was born.
I love paradox, and here’s one… A crazy King that regularly exalted himself and angered the Jews builds a palace just a short distance from the place the real, everlasting King of the Jews will be born. Perhaps the shepherds were with their sheep between the Herodium and the manger. The angel, then angels, appeared and instructed them where to go. There in the distance is the great Palace of the King, a tremendous structure and archeological accomplishment. But they are instructed to go to Bethlehem and look for a baby wrapped in rags and laying in a feeding trough.
The shepherds come to Bethlehem and find the newborn King, and his name is, “Jesus!” Proverbs 18:10 says that the Name of the Lord is a strong tower where the righteous can go and be safe. It isn’t just the baby, it’s the meaning of his name- a promise from God- Jehovah is salvation.
A crazed, paranoid lunatic built a tower thinking he could be safe there, and a few miles away, maybe in the tower’s shadow, a grand plan unfolds, as well as a simple object lesson to teach us that real safety, eternal security, is a (Christmas) gift from God.