Who Are These Wise Men?
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.” Who were they? It was common practice for kings in the area of Babylon and Persia to assemble a body of the smartest men they could find who were masters of accumulated science and 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 controlling and expanding their kingdoms. That is the background.
HOWEVER, MIXED WITH THIS IS THE JEW FACTOR. As the Jews in the two southern tribes of Judah were conquered and forced into exile among the 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 an unusual, powerful governor.
THESE 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 lowly 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 traveling with them, trusted and skilled servants to take care of the animals and do food preparation. It was an entourage, well-organized and well-financed. We don’t know how many “wise men” there were. Three is a reasonable number.
THEIR GOVERNMENT HAD A HIDDEN INTEREST IN SUCH A VENTURE. The government of the wise men was heavily involved in commerce and commerce involved ships. The navigation of 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 related to this unusual star.
A READER COMMENTS: “These wise men would have no doubt had copies of Daniel's scriptures...Daniel was the chief of the magi of Babylon and taught in the school of the seers the prophecy of the star, the sign of the King of the Jews...Because of the faith Daniel to teach the truth of God, hundreds of years after his death the magi knew the prophecy and came to see the new born King" (Comment by George Gullickson, a reader)
THE GOVERNMENT'S 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 be a profitable journey for a 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 14, 2017 - FRIDAY
A.M. Amos 1-3 P.M Revelation 5
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
A 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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