Over the next few days, as we head forth toward Christmas, I thought it appropriate to set the current study of Genesis on hold and look to something a bit more festive. In that light, I’m going to take the opportunity to share some thoughts that were formerly posted here on FOUNDRY4 concerning those historic Wise Men of the Bible. I pray you enjoy these next few posts, and also that as that glorious day draws near, we all remember with grateful hearts the ultimate reason for our celebrating: Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of all who put their faith in Him.
Several years ago, my wonderful wife gave me an amazing gift. She found a collectible, hand-made set of the “first Christmas” gifts: the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the wise men, or Magi, presented to Jesus when they found Him.
I loved these finely-crafted reproductions, and thinking back on them today, I thought it could lead to a nice Christmas post. This week, a special Christmas day interruption of our ongoing examination, we will look at the figures behind those wonderful “first Christmas” gifts: the Wise men of the East.
Who are these Magi? Though their origins go back much further, as we shall see, their most notable appearance in the scriptures comes to us in Matthew 1:1-12:
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea 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. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw 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 exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”
Jumping right on in, it goes without saying that this subject – like so many others – has seen its share of alterations and additions over time. Many notions about these men have sprung up, yes, but the reality of them may be quite different than what we tend to expect. As we move along, prepare yourself for what may surprise you…
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