Herod claimed that he, like the wise men, wanted to worship the newborn king. But false worship doesn’t fool God. Matthew 2: 8 Then he (Herod) told them (the wise men), “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
Herod must have been relieved that the new king was not in Jerusalem. Now he would use the wise men to find this child so that he could eliminate any competition.
Worship or Manipulation?
The wise men would not have known Herod and naively assumed that he only wanted to do what they were about to do. Herod ruthlessly guarded his power base, killing anyone who might interfere. Unsurprisingly, Herod alone wished to bear the title “King of the Jews.” He didn’t really want to worship the new king; he wanted to kill Him. Here the wise men are acting like God’s people, and the king of God’s people is acting like an infamous pagan king of old.
Herod is trying to manipulate and plan a way to get rid of Jesus. The prophet Isaiah commented on this kind of plan. Isaiah 30:1“What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,” says the Lord. “You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins.  God will protect the holy family from these plans of Herod.
Unable to Worship
The Jewish scholars didn’t want to kill Jesus as Herod did. But they did not recognize Messiah when He came. You can’t worship what you don’t acknowledge. The successors of these Jewish scholars would kill Jesus a generation later. Just as Herod felt a new Jewish king would threaten his power base, the next generation of Jewish leaders felt threatened by the ministry of Jesus. These leaders ended up fighting against God.
We understand that Herod lied when he said he desired to worship the new king. That was false worship. So, what is true worship? John 4: 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.
The baby that Herod wanted to kill would grow to die on the cross. God allowed the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus to fulfill His plan. Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross, died, and rose again. His resurrection assures us that we, as we believe, will rise to new life in heaven. For this, He deserves our worship now and forever.
To learn how false worship doesn’t fool God, listen here: