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The Wise Men Persistently Observed

The Wise Men, also known as the Magi, were probaby not kings, but a priestly band of scholars and stargazers. Because of their combined knowledge of science, agriculture, mathematics, history, and the occult, they became the most prominent and powerful group of advisors in the Medo-Persian and subsequently the Babylonian empire. Historians tell us that no Persian was ever able to become king without mastering the scientific and religious disciplines of the magi and then being approved and crowned by them.

They were from the region to the East of Israel located near modern day Iraq and Iran. They had been traveling for a long time following a strange star in the western sky. In 7 B.C. there was an unusual conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, which could have appeared as a new heavenly light, and four years later, Halley’s Comet flared through the skies. Could the star have been a supernova which exploded centuries before and whose light had just arrived in our celestial neighborhood? Or was it a supernatural star, placed there by God himself? Regardless of the theories floating in out in space, the key point is that Scripture says that guided the Magi to a small town know as Bethlehem.

The Wise Men Pushed Out:

Upon seeing the star standing in the westerly sky, the wise men set out and pushed out seeking the Promised Messiah—it was 1,000 to 2,000 mile journey that took anywhere from one to two years to complete—we must remember, camels did not have odometers back then.

The Wise Men looked outward in the same direction and discovered God’s sign of a newborn Messiah. They traveled together, hoped together, asked together the same question: “Where is he born the King?” They did not waver. They did not falter. They did not give up their search until they found the Child with his mother. And when they did, they fell down in worship.

They were persistent in their search and pursued the star the hovered over the night sky. What I find particularly amazing is that no one else responded to that brilliant light dangling from above. You would imagine that others must have perceived of its presence—yet it is only the Magi who pursued it’s prompting.

But they weren’t there just because of the star. They asked Herod, “Where is the one who has been born Messiah of the Jews?” How could they possibly know about a King being born to the Jews?

I’m convinced they read the ancient writings of Daniel. Almost six hundred years earlier Daniel had been deported as a teenager to Babylon when Jerusalem was conquered. He did more than survive a den of lions; he became a very influential leader in the kingdom. Daniel wrote his prophecies about 500 years before Jesus was born. In chapter 9 he predicted from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the birth, life, and death of the Messiah (King of the Jews) exactly 483 years would elapse.

These magi knew exactly when Cyrus gave the official decree for Jerusalem to be rebuilt, so they simply added 483 years and that’s why they were looking for a king at that particular time. They knew when, they just didn’t know where. That’s why they stopped by Jerusalem to ask, “Where?” The answer was found in Micah’s prophecy: He would be born in Bethlehem in Judea.

The words, “Where is the Messiah?” are the first recorded words spoken by a person in the entire New Testament. What do you think is the first question found in Old Testament? In Genesis 3:9, God asked Adam, “Where are you?”

Isn’t the Bible amazing? In one sense, it’s comprised of 66 different books written over a period of 1,500 years by different people inspired by God. But in reality, the Bible is a complete unit with a single dominating plot running from Genesis to Revelation. The entire message of the Old Testament can be summarized in the question God asks sinful mankind, “Where are you?” Like Adam, each of us must admit we have failed to live up to God’s standard.

Compare that to the message of the New Testament. Instead of a Holy God asking sinful mankind, “Where are you?” A man is asking, “Where is God?” And God answers the question unequivocally, “I took on human flesh and came into the world at Bethlehem in Judea!”

It hasn’t changed in 2,000 years. People are still searching for God, asking, “Where are You?” They may ask, “Where was God on 9/11?” Or “Where was God when…?” Each of us must ask and answer that question, “Where–or Who is the Messiah?”

If you honestly, seriously seek to find God, you will always be led to Jesus. The Bible says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ…” “He is the image of the invisible God…for God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things.” (I Timothy 2:5; Colossians 1:15, 29)

So, the Magi pushed out, persistently pursuing the star’s prompting. They were in search of the promised Messiah—Did they find him? You betcha they did. And let me pause to say, the light of Christ is shining just as much today as it did 2,000 years ago. The question is: Have you found it? If not, are you persistently looking?

In Matthew 2:9-11, we read:

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 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, the presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

The Wise Men Praised Openly:

Notice, if you will, the wise men’s reaction upon their reception and recognition of the Christ-Child.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him…

Imagine! The most intellectual men of their day, scientists and scholars, wise by worldly standards, falling to their knees and worshipping this child called Christ. Isn’t it interesting—Isn’t it Inspiring? To know that know that no matter what lot you have in this life—whether you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, young or old, or married or single, that Christ opens the invitation for those who seek Him?

One of greatest gifts given to Christ is worship – and it is still the highest form of human expression. Worship is devotion to Something bigger than you, something that is eternal, powerful and trustworthy

The Wise Men Present Offerings:

One of the most enjoyable things about Christmas is giving gifts to others. It would be nice to think we got the idea from the wise men.

A real gift always is motivated by love. For God so loved He gave…

Some Christmas gifts are inappropriate. For instance, if you have little toddlers in your family, you probably DON’T want to give them permanent markers as a Christmas gift! That would be an inappropriate gift! But the gifts of the magi were perfect. Not only did the wise men openly praise Christ, they presented their offerings unto Him—they gave him gifts: not last-minute specials hastily picked up at the dollar store—their gifts had their signatures stamped on them, signified Jesus’ sovereignty, symbolized His Savior hood, and suggests His sufferings.

The great Bible expositor, John Stott, confirms these gifts were not accidental. The Magi were so wise that their gifts even teach us about Jesus. He wrote: “Gold is the gift fit for a King. Frankincense was in constant use by the priests in the temple. Myrrh was used to embalm the dead. In those three gifts we see who He is, what He came to do, and what it would cost Him.”

The Wise Men Pressed On:

Notice if you will, the wise men’s response to Herod’s request to return. In Matthew 2:12, we read:

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed unto their own country another way.

Here we find another gift presented to the Christ-child. One more precious than gold, more prized than frankincense, and more pronounced than myrrh—obedience to God’s prompting. You must bear in mind that Herod was a half-Jewish puppet of the Romans, insanely jealous, constantly plotting. In the course of his reign, he murdered his wife and mother-in-law, and then assassinated three of his sons. The Roman emperor once remarked that it was safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s kinfolk—To Herod, this child to whom the wise men sought posed a threat to his rule. Therefore, Herod’s intention for this child was not one of praise and adoration, but rather persecution and annihilation.

Notice Herod’s reaction when he discovered the Magi’s deception. In Luke 2:16 we read:

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

Imagine, if you will, what would have happened to Christ had the Magi listened to Herod’s leading and not the Heavenly Father’

This morning, would you be wise? Would you be honored? Would you be at least as great as the Magi? Then worship the King. Bow before him! Bring him gifts! Draw strength from your fellow worshipers, who are on the same journey of faith! Relinquish your worldly wisdom, your skills, your strength, your goods. . .and yield them all to Him whose birth was trumpeted by angels, marked by a Star and visited by lowly shepherds and Wise Men alike.