The Quest for Power

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries2 Minutes

Herod the Great dominated Judea for three decades. Backed by Rome, he was able to rule in often ruthless ways. But his reign was made possible by events that happened in a sea battle near Actium (off the Greek coast) on this day in 31 BC.

This battle was a major turning in Rome’s history, when the forces directed by Octavian (who later became “Augustus”) confronted forces loyal to Marc Anthony. (These were two of the “triumvirate” who ruled Rome.) And Herod governed Judea because of Anthony’s support.

But when Anthony lost the battle at Actium, Herod realized that he was in trouble. He had backed the losing man. Shrewdly, he met Octavian, convincing him that he should be supported. Octavian confirmed Herod as king, cementing his control over Judea.

This background helps us see why Herod was so concerned when he was approached by magi. He tried to manipulate them to accomplish his purposes. But when they failed to report back to him, Herod lashed out violently, ordering the death of boys under two years old around Bethlehem.

Herod displayed characteristics that have plagued many politicians throughout history. He was obsessed with himself. Driven to amass power and resources. Willing to manipulate others, deceive, and distort facts to achieve personal ambitions.

But Jesus urged us to consider the eternal consequences of men like Herod. They may “gain the whole world,” but their kingdoms and power only last a moment. But what, in the end, “does it profit” them?

In contrast, we find lasting success and meaning when we deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus (Mark 8:34-37). When we seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

In your life, remember to focus on God. Seek the Kingdom that will last.