Today was the second Sunday in our series on Herod the Great, contrasting the last King of the Jews with the True One.
It was also the occasion of the single greatest gaff in my 17+year career as a public speaker. I won't spoil the surprise, but if you don't mind a bit of a whoopsy-daisy, then you might check out the 11am recording of The Cue at http://westwinds.org/what_we_do/archive
I want to take this week and focus on the way Herod scrambles after the favor of the Jewish people.
Having largely played them against their Roman overseers, Herod realizes quickly that he's not the popular man he'd like to be at home. He begins several large-scale construction projects in order to win over the Judeans, most notably the new Temple in Jerusalem.
By all accounts, this was a tremendous undertaking involving labor and materials from across the breadth of the Roman Empire. It was the most magnificent religious edifice up until that point in human history, constructed by stones weighing up to 400 tons that were lifted 166ft into the air...by hand...with ropes.
My contention is that Herod did all that in order to win over the Jews, but it failed. He looked for his achievements to guarantee his rights (with the religious establishment) his reputation (within the region of Judea and beyond) and a sense of his belonging (to the larger Jewish culture).
For the next four days (there will be one short detour) I'd like to examine Herod's failures and see if there's anything we can learn from his mistakes. I tend to think we continue to make the same kinds of mistakes today, only on a different scale and with different variables.
For the moment, however, I do want to simply ask the question: to what lengths will we normally go in order to win the approval of others?
If my own life is any indication, it seems we'll do just about anything.
Which is--to say the least--cause for alarm.