The fourth chapter of the book Echoes of His Presence is about kingship.

Herod was an Edomite, a descendant of Esau, Jacob (Israel’s) brother. Herod ruled Jacob. Rumors of a Messiah born in Bethlehem were doubtful because an Edomite still ruled over Israel.

“Hadn’t other self-proclaimed messiahs only brought more bloodshed?”

Herod moved from the Herodian to Jericho in the winter.

“These Jews! Every baby boy was a possible messiah. They were obsessed with the subject, forever talking about this messiah of theirs.”

Herod was known for his building projects:

  • a new Temple for the Jews (and colonnaded courts)
  • Caesarea’s harbor
  • palaces at Jericho and Masada
  • “vast cisterns, aqueducts, pools, baths” (p. 38).
  • and the Herodian (a mountain built with a fortress on top).

Herod had “devised a trademark design for his building stones… Herod’s stones, they called them” (p. 38). “For the Jew, Esau and Edom were synonyms for evil” (p. 40).

Shepherd’s challenge:

“Will you believe that regardless of how powerful Herod appears to be—regardless of how great his fortresses, how extensive his influence, and how pervasive his evil—he is not the king?

“Will you believe that the descendants of Esau are not in control and that evil has not won the day?

“Will you trust that in God’s plan, what appears to be is not?

“Will you believe that this baby born in a humble manger is the true King, Lord of heaven and earth, through whose weakness the strength of Almighty God will be seen?”

Modern followers of Jesus’ challenge:

“Will you believe that the One who is truly King, seated at God’s right hand in heaven, is the One who appears weak and not strong?

“Will you trust God’s Word and not your own perceptions?”

Ray Vanderlaan does a phenomenal job bringing the first century in Palestine to life for a modern reader in Echoes of His Presence. He also brings a depth of understanding of the Scriptures as to how Jesus would have understood Jesus.