A corrupt prison warden held his power by fear and years of using bribes and promises to maintain his position. He had been a warden for a long time, and planned to remain in charge another three years and then retire. He had no interest in finding his replacement, or training anyone to know the system he had devised and the rotation schedule he alone controlled. Instead, he tightened his control whenever anyone showed promise.
One guard showed great aptitude and ability, and his mentors were powerful within the system. Some considered him the heir apparent once the old warden retired, and informed him of what they knew and how he might obtain the position. When the warden discovered this ‘treachery’, he was furious. He did not use the system to transfer or punish his employees, he used the prisoners. He sent word that guards who were supportive of the promising new guard were to be wounded enough to be transferred from the facility, and the reward for such attacks would be well worth the effort.
Over the next week, four guards were hospitalized after inmates attacked them. After they were healed, all requested to be transferred to another prison facility. One was so badly wounded he was unable to work after his attack. The prison warden paid a personal visit to each inmate reported to be a facilitator of his revenge. The visit included specially requested items and for one inmate, his drug of choice. The guard with the bright future was aware of the recent coincidences, and watched with interest as the warden made personal trips to certain inmate cells, but said nothing.
A young and conniving inmate decided to take matters into his hands and win favor with the warden. While in the laundry room, he attacked the promising young guard and tried to bludgeon him on the side of the head with a large stone. Fortunately, the guard turned and caught the attacker’s arm before it struck him. The prisoner was taken away and soon called into the warden’s office. After the meeting he meekly left and was taken to solitary confinement. He was also set up for contraband and punished severely for it, and finally he was attacked and left with scars for everyone to see. It was obvious that using unasked-for initiative was dangerous.
The prisoners all seemed anxious and uncertain, and violence among them was at a lull. Conversation during meals was almost non-existent; and lacked the energy it normally contained. Instead of pacing like caged animals, many of the prisoners sat grimly on their bunks, staring out of their cell. The guard weighed his future for the next three years very carefully. The entire prison feared the warden and nothing changed without his consent. Anyone who acted freely was severely punished. The only choice he saw open was to leave, and so he did.
Moral of the story:
In Matthew 2:3 We read of the moment that all of Israel had waited for FINALLY arriving. The Messiah, a new king born? Could it be true? Could it be they had waited so long for the promise to be fulfilled that it was looked at more as a fairy tale than anything substantive? Would years and generations of waiting wear down even the most faithful? Would years of subjugation and captivity by one people after another make you leery to trust a God who seemed disinterested? I cannot say, for I am from a different time and a much different background. Who am I to judge them for not wondering and investigating?
The thing that compels me more than the years of waiting is the person Herod was. A man of cruelty and great leadership all mixed up into one person. A tyrant and a jealous leader; no doubt he had squashed the civil war of the time not just with weapons but with his mind. He was a person feared greatly. When we read he was troubled that wasn’t all.
We also read that all Jerusalem was troubled with him. Why? Fear of the retribution is my assumption. Herod had given them much, even a temple! But, he was devious and he was calculating, having many put to death so why would he hesitate to squash them as well? I have seen rage, but not the rage of one as mentally complex as Herod. Who am I to judge them, I may have trembled as well, but what a tragedy all the same.