“. . . and all Jerusalem with him.”

These words are an easily missed phrase in our traditional Christmas reading from Matthew 2. When the Magi had come, they asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and we have come to worship him.”

The response is both frightening and predictable: “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” People were not upset because Messiah had come, but because Herod was upset.

Herod’s paranoia already had led him to execute his favorite wife and three sons. He would allow no competition to his throne, and if there were rumors of another king, that spelled trouble. Jerusalem’s fears were justified, as we see in Herod’s killing of the infants recorded later in Matthew 2. People echo the tone set by their leadership.

That usually is the case. In the history of Israel, when a righteous king reigned, so did peace and prosperity. But when strife and chaos ruled the political and social scene, the people’s fortunes suffered.

When poor leaders create or allow turmoil, it leads to stress for their people, which today we see reflected in faces and actions around us. These are troubling times for any normal person, and painful to watch. Lawbreaking once unimaginable in our nation is daily news.

This has nothing to do with political parties, but with moral authority and law. We should pray for our leaders, many of whom are fearful and intimidated. Their moral compass is an ideology, not righteousness, as they fail to grasp either justice or human nature.

But history shows that tumult ebbs and flows within cultures, and sometimes good things arise phoenix-like out of the ashes of political and social unrest. Even decline is not a straight line. The “Greatest Generation” was born in the decadent and corrupt “Roaring Twenties.”

Christians, “let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1). Our hope is not in political leaders, but the One the Magi worshiped. Neither leaders nor the chaos they create will stop the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! He will, in time, rule unruly leaders and nations with a rod of iron. He will not fail, and He will not fail you who trust Him. Psalm 2

“Father, help us not be dismayed by the failure of feckless leaders, but be strong in You and in the power of Your might. Help us walk with Jesus through the turmoil and lead us beside the still waters of your presence, in His name. Amen.”

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