The people of Nigerian need to wake up!! Are we really serving God or serving pastors and G.O’s?
Amen! AMAZINGLY the KING of the earth and Creator of ALL was born in a manger! Among livestock faeces! THE Creator! Yes! Arguments are raised, BUT the star that directed the three wise men shone above the exact spot where He was to be “born” as Man.
It was known eons ago! If we look back to the times of king David; he was selected to be in the lineage of Christ!
This blows your mind.
I actually in researching this was pointed in a direction:
1. The ‘appearance’ of the star? The timing of the star?
Yes, in my earlier shares I will admit that I thought that the wise men and shepherds arrived at roughly the same time.
A ‘lifetime’ of teaching AND scenes of The birth of Jesus.
We have spoken of the ‘time’ of His birth. But, THINK! How long would the have actually stayed in the barn? It was to give birth! Saint Mary’s recovery post partum? NOT in a barn!
Then again, I will ask a question that will blow your minds. Why did Herod order ALL Male children 2 years of age or younger killed?
There was a ‘thought/belief’ in those days that the emperor was the king!
The Jews then had a leader (or king) the emperor! Fast forward…
What was the inscription above the cross? King of the Jews! A comedy? No! Derision! Here is your King. Hung on a tree as a criminal! It was a rubbing of their faces in the dirt!
Your King? Here He hangs, criminal that He is, seeking to usurp MY power and position!
Many have not seen it this way, but in reviewing all data it is made abundantly clear!
The wise men came, they left by another way having dreamt/been led to go a different way. Thus the slaying of all males three and below. THIS is something I ask you to mull on. Three and below?
Where was the ‘star’? The ‘position’ is not astronomically in ‘line’ with what we know now. Position of Jerusalem? The ‘star’ led them? We have discussed ‘being led’ a myriad of times. In this case, the caravan of the three wise men was made up of people like Daniel from eons before that had a ‘knowledge’/wisdom that far outweighed ‘conventional’ wisdom. Remember this James 1:5 tells us that if you ask for wisdom, God will give it generously without finding fault: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
We all remember the story of Daniel interpreting the writing on the wall? Can anyone without/before reading further TRULY remember what it said? Meaning? Interpretation and events surrounding the interpretation (if there is/was one)? This is a direct challenge. Our quiz for the moment.
“In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
Daniel Interprets the Handwriting
Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing: And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that He appointeth over it whomsoever He will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against The LORD of Heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and The God in whose hand thy breath is, and Whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from Him; and this writing was written.
And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing:
MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
One of the most evocative images from any Christmas scene must be that of the Wise Men attending Jesus’ birth, and the star hovering over the stable where He was born. But so few people actually know what the Bible really says about this event, or what it actually means for us today.
The event is recorded in Matthew 2:
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.
When did the event take place?
The actual journey of these wise men could easily have taken a long time. It would appear from Matthew 2:7 that the star, which the wise men had seen, had appeared at the moment of Jesus’ birth. But the wise men had arrived after the birth. If they saw the star at the moment of Jesus’ birth, then it would have taken at least a few months for the wise men to arrive.
We will say something about Herod — who he was and what he was like — a little later. For now, we should note that he wanted to know the exact time the star had appeared, presumably so he could pinpoint the exact moment of this special child’s birth. He later proceeded to have all baby boys killed who were two years old and under (Matthew 2:16). This would indicate that Jesus had been born up to two years previously. So the wise men did not arrive at the same time as the shepherds, who arrived the same day as the birth (Luke 2:11). Indeed, Jesus’ family was no longer in a stable; they were living in a house at that time (Matthew 2:11).
Who were the Wise Men?
The Greek word for the wise men is μαγοι, (magi). It is from this word that we get our word magician. At that time, the boundary between those who attempted to perform occult experiments and those who performed legitimate science would have been blurred. For example, early chemists were alchemists, trying to change one substance into another (usually gold) by all sorts of methods, including incantations, but also including methods that we would recognize today as experimental chemistry. Similarly, these magicians could probably be referred to as scientists in a broader sort of way.
As they came from the East, they could have been associated with the magicians mentioned in Daniel. In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar is speaking to people who are referred to as magicians, astrologers and wise men. These could very well be the same group of people. There is some additional evidence for this below.
Before continuing our investigation into who the wise men were, we should briefly comment on how many there were. In fact, we do not know how many there were. The word magi is plural, so there must have been at least two. However, there could have been many more. The legend that there were three, and that we know their names, is just a legend. The idea of three wise men may have developed, because there were three types of gifts presented by the wise men to Jesus (Matthew 2:11).
In Daniel 2, the wise men were unable to tell King Nebuchadnezzar his dream, before attempting to interpret it. The king therefore threatened to have them all put to death (Daniel 2:12). Indeed, it would appear that the order to kill the wise men had already begun (Daniel 2:13), when Daniel heard of it. Daniel and his companions were already counted among the wise men, because they had been trained as such and interviewed for inclusion in the ranks of the wise men (Daniel 1:18-20). Daniel’s inclusion among the wise men shows that the wise men were not necessarily occultists, as Daniel and his companions accepted their inclusion, even though they had refused to eat the meat sacrificed to idols in Daniel 1.
When Daniel told the king his dream and its interpretation, he made clear that he was not able to do this because of his own wisdom, and that the wise men had been correct in stating that no man could do what the king had asked. Instead, Daniel gave glory to God, stating that he could only do this amazing thing, because God had revealed the dream and interpretation to him. At the end of Daniel 2, we read that Daniel was to be chief administrator over the wise men, who, presumably, were to be spared.
Yes, I am aware that we have spoken about this, but I wish to reiterate what HAS been stated.
How did the Wise Men know the significance of the star?
If we are right about the identity of the wise men, this gives us a clue as to why they would know about the star. The star is mentioned in Numbers 24, and is prophesied by an unusual character, called Balaam.
Balaam seems to have been a sort of traveling soothsayer, and as such was probably a sort of “ancestor” to the Babylonian wise men of Daniel’s time. He was based at Pethor, which is not only near the River Euphrates (Numbers 22:5), but also close to Babylon. Balaam was contracted by Balak to curse the Israelites. Balak was the king of Moab at that time, and the Israelites were moving through Moabite territory as part of their long sojourn to the Promised Land. The Israelites were not going to settle in Moab, so the Moabites had the opportunity, as had the Edomites and Amorites before them, to show hospitality to the Israelites and enable them to go on their way (Numbers 20:17-18; 21:22-23). Like the Edomites and Amorites, the Moabites were to disobey God, but they were to do so by contracting this magician named Balaam. The account of what happened to Balaam — how he was commissioned, how he was warned about his behavior by God, how God rebuked him by making his donkey talk and how his every attempt to curse the Israelites simply led to them being blessed — can be found in Numbers 22 through 24. In one of Balaam’s attempts to curse the Israelites, he ended up uttering this prophecy:
I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult. (Numbers 24:17)
In one sense, the prophecy applies to Israel itself, particularly with reference to David’s conquest of the Moabites (2 Samuel 8:2). However, the concept of the scepter, a symbol of kingship, refers not only to David, but to David’s greater son, and refers back to Genesis:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Genesis 49:10)
This passage from Genesis refers to the coming Messiah, to be descended from Judah so, by inference, we can suggest that Numbers 24:17 also refers to the coming Messiah. If Balaam is the ancestor of the wise men of Babylon, then it is likely that these wise men knew about Balaam’s oracle. It would also make sense that Daniel could have spoken to them about this, especially as Daniel himself prophesied much about the Messiah (Daniel 9:25-26).
Evidence for this link between Daniel’s wise men and Balaam is underlined by reference to what the wise men did not know, as well as what they did. They knew about Balaam’s messianic prophecy, and possibly Daniel, but not that of Micah:.
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth arefrom of old, From everlasting. (Micah 5:2)
If they had known about Micah, they would never have traveled to Jerusalem, proceeding instead directly to Bethlehem. After all, if they understood the significance of Numbers 24 and possibly Genesis 49, they would certainly have known what Micah was talking about. But instead they had to be told about this by the chief priests and scribes in Jerusalem, especially as these chief priests coupled Micah 5:2 with a reference to Genesis 49:10, as adapted in 2 Samuel 5:2..
One final piece of evidence for this Babylonian wise men connection is the implication that the wise men were looking for the star. Why were they looking for Messiah’s star at that particular period of time? Or had they been looking for such a star for centuries? The latter idea seems unlikely. If these wise men were the Babylonian wise men formerly led by Daniel, then they were probably aware of Daniel’s prophecies, including Daniel’s reference to the timing of the coming of the Messiah, in Daniel 9.
Who was Herod?
Herod clearly considered himself to be the King of the Jews. Therefore, the wise men’s question in Matthew 2:2 would have greatly disturbed him. Indeed, not only the king was troubled, but Jerusalem as a whole, as well. (Matthew 2:3). King Herod clearly knew that the title “King of the Jews” did not properly belong to him.
Herod was Jewish by choice only. He was not Jewish by descent; he was Edomite. This ties in neatly with prophecy, because we have already seen that in Numbers that the Edomites were rejected by God because of their inhospitable attitude to the Israelites. However, Herod had chosen to be Jewish by practice, as had most other Edomites of the time. This was convenient for him. He was selected to be “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate, which means that he was really a puppet of the Roman occupiers. As an adopted Jew, he had the Second Temple rebuilt and enhanced — so much so that it is now often referred to as Herod’s Temple. With this use of his position vis-a-vis the Temple, he must have known the messianic significance of the title “King of the Jews.” For Herod and the Roman Senate to have used that title, they had to know that the title had significance. It is no wonder that he was troubled when he heard about the birth of the real King of the Jews, accompanied by this miraculous star.
By his actions, we know that Herod was brutal. He knew that the King of the Jews was someone who he ought to worship, which is why he pretended that he wished to do so in Matthew 2:8. The wise men also knew that this person was the One to be worshiped (Matthew 2:2). In his questioning of the chief priests and scribes, Herod shows that he knew that the real King of the Jews was to be the Messiah (Matthew 2:4).
As a Jew by adoption, why did he not actually want to worship the Messiah? Why did he want to destroy Him instead? It is likely that this is because he knew that his own title was blasphemous. He was not really interested in worshiping as a Jew. He was interested in power, and his assumption of kingship with a Messianic title, as well as his work on the Temple, was part of this pursuit of power. Therefore, he would resort to any length to keep his blasphemous title and position. So hungry for power was he that he was prepared to have hundreds of innocent children slaughtered in his vain attempt to have the new Messiah destroyed.
What was the star?
We are first told this by the wise men: “We have seen His star in the East.”
The wise men knew that this was not just any star. It was His star — that is, the star of the Messiah. This also indicates that they knew the prophecies in Numbers 24 and Genesis 49. But where did the star appear? There is actually a great deal of ambiguity in the phrase “star in the East.” This could mean that they saw the star in the Western sky, while they were still in the East (i.e. Babylon). Or it could mean that the star had appeared in the East. The word for East is ανατολη (anatolē). This actually means a rising of light, and only means East by implication. This could imply that the phrase is referring to the Messiah as the Morning Star. This would fit, for example, with what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19, and with Jesus’ own declaration of Himself in Revelation 22:16. The Morning Star is also a reference to the planet Venus, when it appears in the morning, but the star of the Messiah cannot be Venus, or any other planet, for reasons outlined below.
I would suggest that this star is not an astronomical object. Let us examine what this star actually did. The star appeared at the moment of Jesus’ birth, and was visible to the wise men in Babylon. If they saw the star over Israel, it would indicate that the star was not astronomical, because stars do not rise in the West — they rise in the East. If it rose in the East, then it must have been special, because star-gazers like these wise men would not have had difficulty recognizing the planet Venus.
Traditional images show the wise men travelling over the desert, following a star. However, Matthew 2 does not say that they followed the star to Israel. In fact, it would appear, from their reaction, that the star was newly reappeared in Matthew 2:9:
And, behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them.
How could a star in the universe go before the wise men? It could not. Bethlehem is to the south of Jerusalem. Stars do not move south; they move west. Also, stars do not settle over houses, as this one did.
In fact, the Greek word which has here been translated as star, aster (αστερα) implies something that is strewn. What could it be that could move easily, from West to East if need be, appearing as strewn light? A good candidate for this phenomenon would be the pillar of fire:
Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, And by night with a pillar of fire, To give them light on the road Which they should travel. (Nehemiah 9:12)
This effect is seen in the presence of God at the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting):
Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:34-38)
This effect is often known as the Shechinah glory of God, from the Hebrew word for rested (in Exodus 40:35), shâkan (שׁכן).
Because this Shechinah glory was a light that could move, and could point to the presence of God, I would suggest that the star mentioned in Matthew 2 was not an astronomical object, but actually the appearance, after a few hundred years’ absence, of the Shechinah glory of God.
In this scenario, then, the wise men reached Bethlehem about two years after the birth of Jesus. Jesus, Mary and Joseph were now in a house, not the stable. There could have been any number of wise men, and they were probably representatives of the wise men of Babylon. They were aware of the promised Messiah from their former leader, Daniel, and from the oracle of their founder, Balaam. Under Daniel’s leadership and influence, many of them had no doubt turned from their paganism to the worship of the true God. They were unaware, however, that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem because Micah’s prophecy was received many years later and many miles away, back in Israel. Their intention was to seek the Messiah, in order to worship Him. They knew to make their journey because of an appearance of the Shechinah glory of God. This same pillar of fire led them from Jerusalem to the house in Bethlehem. Herod’s response was to seek to destroy the Messiah by any means possible.
Put into this context, we can see that the events of Matthew 2 are even more significant than the traditional Christmas card scene. And in worshiping the Messiah, the wise men made a prophecy of their own in their choice of gifts.
Gold: A gift for a king.
Frankincense: This is obviously an incense, the burning of which represents prayer. It is used by priests, and indicates the priestly nature of the Messiah.
Myrrh: A fragrant perfume, used in embalming bodies. The inclusion of this gift can be seen as prophetic of the death of the Messiah. The three gifts together also underline the Messiah’s offices as prophet, priest and king.
Our response should therefore be that of the wise men themselves: to worship the Messiah, Jesus Christ — our Prophet, Priest and King.