The gifts of the Wise Men hold significance in and of themselves. As we are told in the scriptures (Matthew 2:11), the Magi presented the young Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Apart from the general richness of these gifts, there is vast meaning hidden within each, and certainly this was understood by those who presented them to the Messiah.
The Magi, the official title of those grand Wise Men of old, is actually a Latinized version of the Greek magoi, a word which itself has been borrowed from an earlier Persian word for a specific sect of priests. These Media-Persian priests formed an important – and hereditarily-specific – role in their native kingdom, not only overseeing the continuation of vast religious insights, but also playing a particular role in matters of state (including the election of the king of the realm).
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.
It’s Thanksgiving, and you should be celebrating with your loved ones, not sitting around reading blog posts. That said, I’ll be brief. Think of everything you have, every blessing that you have ever received. Its an overwhelming prospect, if we are honest. We need not wait all year long to think of those blessings. We can be appreciative each and every day. Today especially though, let’s all take a moment to be thankful for everything we have. Friends, family, stability, hope, we are all blessed beyond the limits of our imagination. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for what is yet to come. Most of all, as 1 Chronicles 16:34 declares, “give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.”
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Last week I asked the potentially volatile question, Should the Bible be proven? This week we continue with that question.
Cynics will assure you that nothing is free; everything, they contend, has a cost. That sad fact, I’m afraid, is one that even the very Creator of our reality had to face Himself. What was the cost of ultimate creation?
Believers should have no doubt that angels are real, and that their presence in our world is one that can, and certainly does, have powerful ramifications. Even so, how often do we stop and consider their presence around us? Right now, no matter where you are, no matter what you find yourself doing, take a moment to ponder if you are truly alone. Is it possible that much activity is actually swirling around you in that quiet room? Could a battle of sorts even be underway? What are we missing right beneath our noses, just outside our range of perception?
Beyond the archangels, there are a number of other celestial ranks that the Bible seems to note. Among these are the Principalities, the Powers, the Virtues, the Dominions, and the Thrones. While nothing is actually attributed to these ranks Biblically, commentators¹ have over the years inferred a number of responsibilities for each by looking to the scriptures for clues.²
In the world of mankind, we find that all well-organized gatherings have within their fold an established order of leaders, or otherwise a hierarchy of organization through which each individual knows his place. It appears that angels share this characteristic. While it may be simple enough for many believers to fall into the somewhat dismissive attitude of “an angel is an angel,” in truth the scriptures give us a bit of insight into their actual class or ranks.
Knowing that they came before us leads to a particularly disheartening conclusion for some: Angels are not deceased people! I have encountered many individuals who have spoken of how loved ones who have gone on are now angels (oftentimes these people say they are in fact guardian angels, watching over them), and though the notion may be comforting, it is simply wrong. We do not ascend into the heights of heaven at death with silvery wings, halos, and golden harps. No, our future role is distinct and far different from that of angels, but that is a discussion for another time. What else do we often confuse concerning these creatures?