7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (Matthew 2:7–8 ESV)
Herod was a methodical schemer. He was really not what he seemed to be on the surface. While superficially charming, he possessed a deep-rooted hatred for any enemy; real or imagined. This applied to even those within his immediate family. You can be sure that Herod already made his mind up that Jesus was his mortal enemy who he needed to destroy.
Herod summoned the Magi and met with them secretly. Why? Perhaps it was to hide his true intentions and to limit the Magi’s investigation to only him. Regardless, in his meeting with the Eastern visitors he discovered from them how long they had been traveling since they saw the star. Remember, Herod had a reason for everything he asked and did.
“Herod has so far succeeded in his murderous design: he has tracked the spot where lies his victim, an unconscious babe. But he has another point to fix—the date of His birth—without which he might still miss his mark. The one he had got from the Sanhedrim; the other he will have from the sages; but secretly, lest his object should be suspected and defeated. So he inquired of them diligently—rather, “precisely” what time the star appeared—presuming that this would be the best clue to the age of the child. The unsuspecting strangers tell him all. And now he thinks he is succeeding to a wish, and shall speedily clutch his victim; for at so early an age as they indicate, He would not likely have been removed from the place of His birth. Yet he is wary. He sends them as messengers from himself, and bids them come to him, that he may follow their pious example,” Dr. John Walvoord explains.
Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem to find the Christ child. This ensured safe conduct for the Magi. To search diligently meant to accurately and carefully question and ask for the precise location of the child.
Herod added that the Magi were to return to him with information of where the baby would be found. Herod’s overt reason was to worship the child as the Magi intended. However, Herod’s covert plan was to destroy the child along with anyone who stood in his way.
There are people today who profess religious loyalty to Christ, only to turn against Him and any of His followers when things do not go their way. What about you? Are you a Christ follower or just a pretender?
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!