December 9, 2016
Matthew 2:1, 2
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Part of the first Christmas story always includes the wise men from the East. The record of their visit to Bethlehem is found in Matthew 2:1 through 13. Our featured Scripture is the first two verses, Matthew 2:1 and 2:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod
the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 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 don’t know when the visit of the wise men took place, but it was not at the stable when Jesus was born. There are at least three reasons why this incident took place later – up to two years later!
• In Matthew 2:11 it says, “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child….” It was not the stable where they found Him, but a house in Bethlehem! So, obviously, it was not at Jesus birth!
• Also in Matthew 2:11 it is written: “And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” But in Luke 2:22 through 24 we read:
Now when the days of her [Mary’s] purification according to the law of
Moses were completed, they brought Him [Jesus] to Jerusalem to present
Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who
opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord” – see Exodus 13:2, 12, 13),
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 4, a Jewish woman who bore a son would be considered unclean for forty days! After the forty days were passed, the baby’s parents were to present him at the temple in Jerusalem, dedicating him to God. They would then offer a sacrifice to the Lord as described in Leviticus 12:6 through 8: The normal sacrifice was “…a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering…” (Leviticus 12:6). But if they were too poor to afford a lamb, they could “…bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons — one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering.” (Leviticus 12:8).
If the wise men had presented their gifts at the stable when Jesus was born – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – Joseph and Mary would have certainly been able to afford the more expensive sacrifice!
• Finally, in Luke 2:16 this recorded:
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was ex-
ceedingly angry; and…put to death all the male childern…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.”
Herod was trying to protect his throne! He felt threatened by the One “…born King of the Jews…” (Luke 2:2). For Herod’s title was King of the Jews!
Why did he murder all the male children…two years old and under? Apparently, the time…he had determined from the wise men was that the star had appeared about two years before, signaling the birth of Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews!
But it is traditional to place the wise men at the stable in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. I do not get upset when I see a manger scene so displayed.
How is it that the wise men associated the appearance of the star of Bethlehem with the One born King of the Jews? We must put together certain events in the Old Testament with some of the early Scripture writings. That we will do in the next blog.
By the way, I wrote four previous blogs that cover some or all of what we are examining here. See the blogs from December 18 and 21, 2015 – Home Another Way – I and II; and December 27 and 29, 2013 – The Timeline of Christmas – XI and XII.