December 18, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
The last blog was from the Scripture that tells of the wise men visiting the Christ Child – Matthew 2:1 and 2. This blog will be about that visit and then the trip home. Here is Matthew 2:9 through 12:
When…[the wise men] heard the king [Herod], they departed; and be-
hold, the star which they had seen in the east went before them, till it
came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the
star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come
into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell
down, and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures,
they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being
divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they
departed for their own country another way.
First, let’s clear up some misconceptions that have become Christmas traditions:
• These were not three kings! They were Magi – wise men who were court advisors and counselors to the king – probably from Babylon. They were trained in many disciplines including astronomy and astrology, and believed that significant world events were accompanied by signs in the heavenly bodies. And it does not say there were three of them! They just brought three types of gifts, “gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
• They did not come to the stable to see the new-born Jesus. It says in verse 11 of our Scripture, “…when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother….” Also, King Herod had found out from the wise men that the guiding star they were following had appeared two years before. How do we know it was two years? Because it is recorded in Matthew 2:16 that…
…Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceed-
ingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who
were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under,
according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
Also, in Luke 2:22 and 24 it is written:
Now when the days of…[Mary’s] purification according to the law of
Moses were completed, they brought…[Jesus] to Jerusalem to present
Him to the Lord…and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in
the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
According to Leviticus 12:2 through 8, the parents of a newborn were to offer a lamb for sacrifice – if they could afford it. Verse 8 says, “And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons — one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.” This was to be six week after the birth of a son! (See Leviticus 12:3, 4). If the wise men had come with their rich gifts to the stable on the night Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph would have had the means to offer the more expensive sacrifice of a lamb!
• The wise men did not blindly follow the star of Bethlehem! Six hundred years before, the first Jewish prisoners of King Nebuchadnezzar – the elite of Jewish society – were deported to Babylon, about 800 miles to the east. Daniel was one of them. He rose to be a court counselor and advisor to the king – a magi – even the chief of all Babylon’s magi! (See Daniel chapters 1, 2, 6).
When these pious Jews went as prisoners to Babylon, they carried with them the sacred writings of Scripture. In those Scriptures was the prophecy of Balaam in Numbers 24:17 through 19 (Modern King James Version):
I shall see him, but not now. I shall behold him, but not near. There shall
come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall
strike the corners of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult. And Edom
shall be a possession. Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies. And
Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come He who shall have do-
minion and shall destroy him who remains of the city.
This powerful prophesy, and others like it (see Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Zechariah 9:9, 10), combine to tell of the birth of a powerful King who will rule the world and be the Savior of mankind! But especially Balaam’s prophecy (quoted above) link a Star and a Scepter…out of Israel!
Since Jerusalem was the capital of Israel – where the King would naturally be – the wise men showed up at King Herod’s palace, “…saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ ”
We haven’t even gotten to Home Another Way yet! We will continue on Monday.