Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (Matthew 2:1-2.)
Wise men. Much time and scholarship has been devoted to these “wise men.” It was common practice for kings in the area of Babylon and Persia to assemble a body of men from the smartest they could find who were masters of accumulated philosophy. Kings wanted “professionals” at studying the stars and heavenly bodies. They grasped for any straw of connection to any existing deity “out there anywhere” who could guide them in exercising the controls and expansion of their kingdoms. That is the background.
However, mixed with this is the fact that as Jews were conquered and forced into exile among these conquering kingdoms to the east, first Babylon and then Persia (modern-day Iraq and Iran) they took with them a firm belief in the one true God who had given them their land and their sacred books. Their sacred books had told them of one promised to come to Israel who would be a governor.
These particular wise men apparently were officials of government in that they had considerable wealth in their wearing apparel and their mode of transportation. It is doubtful that they simply asked a few months off from their kingly duties to go on vacation. In short, the idea that they would have undertaken such a long trip as a private venture apart from their government authority and wealth is practically zero.
We don’t know exactly how these men were dressed but we can know this much: They did not look like shepherds or merchants whose animals were covered with dangling items of merchandise or bags of spices. Their camels were not old and worn out. They almost certainly had trusted and skilled servants traveling with them to take care of the animals and to do food preparation. It was an entourage, well-organized and well-financed.
Their government had a hidden interest in such a venture. (It reminds me of the arrangement Columbus had with his government when he sailed for America in 1492 with a little fleet of three ships.) The government of the wise men was heavily involved in commerce that involved ships. The navigation of those ships relied on a knowledge of the stars. I can’t prove it by the Scripture, of course, but I believe their government had an interest in the strange star they had been watching and studying.
These wise men were strongly influenced by their Jewish background and the Jewish Bible. Their rulers in the east would have an interest in a strange star and a strange story believed by the Wise men: that a new king, an unusual king could be attached to this unusual star.
Their inquiry was not about a suffering savior who would save people from their sins. Their interest was about a new king born to the Jews. This would make their journey very profitable for their sponsoring government. But apparently, they had a connection with God that their government did not have. God does as He pleases and on His own time schedule. These wise men made a long journey to find the Christ of the Jewish prophets. Wise men still seek Him today. Have you sought Him for yourself?
The big picture of the birth of Jesus the Christ (Jewish messiah) is that the entire Old Testament says repeatedly: “He’s coming!” Beginning with Moses and continuing to Malachi, reference is often made of God’s promised one. The New Testament summarizes it: But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4-5).
●This article is an edited reprint of “Good Morning December 11, 2007”
Read Through the Bible in a Year
DECEMBER 5, 2017 - TUESDAY
A.M. Daniel 5-6 P.M 1John 4
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verses to Memorize:
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Song for Today:
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem (3:41) (Gaither Group - Ben Speer)
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