• By Joseph A. Bias

Magi, Wise Men from the East


From childhood we’ve heard about Melchior, Balthazar and Casper the three Kings (wise men) who came to Jesus bringing gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The composer Gian Carlo Menotti composed a television Opera, called Amahl and The Night Visitors that featured the three on their way to Bethlehem with a brief stay at Amahl and his mother’s house. The tradition is carried on in countless nativity scenes, movies and works of art.

But the Biblical account of the magi tells a slightly different story.

“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.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, 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. …

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly 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.” Matthew 2:1-16

The wise men came from the east and most likely from places where Israel had been exiled during the time of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It is believed that they told of the prophesies concerning the coming Messiah and the magicians/astrologers who studied the stars and the movement of heavenly bodies were keenly aware of the time of this world changing event. It is also remarkable that they came from different places yet each, however many there may have been, all determined the precise time of the birth of Jesus.

Being supernaturally led to follow the star when it first appeared in the East on the night of Jesus’ birth, they must have begun their journey at least 18 months to 2 years prior to their arrival in Jerusalem and the court of Herod considering the distance they would have had to travel.

They were also divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod after they found the child. So they returned to their own country by another way.

The wise men enter the story to emphasize the fact that Jesus’ birth was not just anticipated by Israel, but also by those who studied the signs in the heavens. All believed a Savior would come sent from God to right the wrongs in the world and set up His Kingdom, a new kingdom of peace on earth.

Kings and peasants, shepherds and wise men looked for His coming and came bringing gifts to worship Him.

Hope was restored and joy returned to the hearts of men that life was worth living and the future of the world was fresh with possibility and promise.

“And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh”.

This act of adoration was the reason for the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas time. The gold represented His kingly authority, the Frankincense symbolized His priestly office as intercessor for the world, and he Myrrh represented the death He was to die for the sins of the world.

They were rightly referred to as ‘Wise Men” because those who are wise seek God and His kingdom first and foremost above all things. These magi, kings, wise men journeyed for nearly two years or more just to see the child who would save the world and only for a short time. The Scriptures do not tell us how long they were there but it must not have been for an extended time because of Herod’s murderous decree against all children 2 years old and younger.

Nevertheless, they came, if only for a brief glimpse of the fulfillment of four thousand years of prophecy.

SUMMARY OF THE TIME FROM ADAM TO JESUS

Adam to Abraham .................948 years

Abraham to Egypt .................290 years

From Egypt to Moses (X)………..63 years

X = Kohath to Amram to Moses)

Moses to the Exodus ................80 years

Exodus to death Joshua.............70 years

Judges to Samuel....................450 years (Acts 13:20)

Kings of Judah........................513 years

Babylonian Captivity................586 B.C.E.

Adam to Jesus 4000 years

Source: http://www.hebroots.com/lul7_8.html

Jesus came to save sinners. He came to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He lived and died so that all who would believe on Him would have eternal life. He lives today now raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. And His invitation is to all who will be wise to hear, believe, and receive Him and be saved.

Would that we had such passion and determination to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. What amazing reward would be granted us.

As we approach this New Year, 2017, let us strive for the highest good, the highest love and compassion, the highest praise and worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

As those wise men sought and found the Savior let us seek and find the presence of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in our lives daily that His great name may be glorified and His kingdom come on the earth as it is in Heaven.

The First Noel

The First Noel, the Angels did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep

On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star

Shining in the East beyond them far

And to the earth it gave great light

And so it continued both day and night.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star

Three Wise men came from country far

To seek for a King was their intent

And to follow the star wherever it went.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest

O'er Bethlehem it took its rest

And there it did both stop and stay

Right o'er the place where Jesus lay.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three

Full reverently upon their knee

And offered there in His presence

Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord

Sing praises to our heavenly Lord

That hath made Heaven and earth of naught

And with his blood mankind has bought.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

Words: Trad. English carol (Luke 2:8-14; Matthew 2:1-12)

Music: Trad. English carol; harm. From Christmas Carols Nee and Old, 1871

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