After the Wise Men met with King Herod and got further directions on where to find this possible child born ‘king of the Jews’, they proceeded to Bethlehem. Matthew 2:9-12 “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”
Here we see the provision, protection and love God has for His Son who is now on earth. We know the Magi did not visit on the night of Jesus’ birth as in verse 2 we were told they came to see Herod after Jesus’ birth. Also there is no mention of a stable or animals but a house. (When visiting Bethlehem, guides took us to a house believed to be where Mary and Joseph lived during this time period. It is very near to the stable cave and had several rooms where they could have lived comfortably.) The Magi followed the Star and found where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were living. The gifts they presented to them were very costly and befitting a king. We see God’s Sovereignty in the fact that He warned the kings not to go back to Herod. God knew what was in Herod’s heart and protected His Son.
Have you experienced the provision, protection and love of God during this pandemic year of 2020? I know I have. God has provided comfort and connection that I so desperately crave during these times of isolation. He has protected me from the virus and kept me in good health. I have felt His love through His Word and the kindness of others. God loves each of us and reaches down to touch us in ways we recognize and then some we don’t. Reflect as we end this year on ways God has met your needs and thank Him for His provision.
Matthew 2:1 clearly states that the encounter of the Wise men with King Herod happened after the birth of Jesus. So our story continues….
Matthew 2:1-8 “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, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”
When was the last time you went in search of something? Maybe you were looking for your keys, a particular piece of clothing, a special ingredient, an appliance or even a certain type of car? Did you make a plan for your search or have to drive from place to place? Maybe you called ahead or researched it on the Internet. In any case, it took time to search and you were looking forward to finding it. The Wise Men were looking forward to finding the babe, king of the Jews, so they could worship Him. Here are some thoughts about them and their journey. The Wise Men were from the east so that would be in the direction of Persia, Babylon or the Orient. They has been students of astrology if they were studying the stars enough to find the star phenomena that occurred at this time in history. Scholars believe it was a conjunction of planets that came together and then moved in retrograde probably Saturn and Jupiter. We had a similar occurrence just this last week that is very rare as the last time it occurred was in 1220. They were seeking the one born ‘king of the Jews’. This would indicate that they were gentiles. If they had been Jewish, they would have said our king and named him as Messiah. They were also seekers of truth as they had seen the star, been motivated to follow it and traveled hundreds of miles by caravan in pursuit of this ‘king’. These Magi or Kings themselves must have been men of means to be able to take the time and have all the necessary provisions-camels, men, money for this lengthy trip.
What would you do if you were the ruler of a country and someone came and asked where the new king was? We learn several things, not very good either, about King Herod from his words and actions with Wise Men. He was curious about the Wise Men, visiting dignitaries, and their journey. Visitors from the east were probably not an every day occurrence and created a bit of a stir. When Herod heard about their quest to find the ‘new born king’ scripture describes him as disturbed, troubled and all Jerusalem too. Herod was a very powerful tyrannical ruler who was a supreme builder. He shows himself here to be crafty and cunning. Herod told the Wise Men privately what his scholars had said about where the Messiah would be born and suggested they continue their search for this child. I’m sure he did not want it publicly known that there was a ‘new born king’ somewhere that might be the long awaited Messiah, hence the private audience. He asked them to come back and tell him when they found the child so he could worship him too. We learn later this was a crafty lie as he had no intention of sharing his throne with anyone.
What does this teach us about God? For one, all the universe awaited the birth of the Messiah and God used the heavens to declare his arrival. The prophecy in Numbers 24:17 speaks of a star in relation to a new king, “I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the heads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.” Since the king here was one that would be powerful and crush others, I’m sure this is yet another reason Herod feared a new king and wanted him gone. Another thought is that God can and does use all kinds of people to do His work. Lowly Mary and Joseph, elderly Zachariah and Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon were just ordinary people God used in mighty ways. Here God shows us He can and does use unbelievers to accomplish His plans. Their involvement in the coming of the Savior reminds us that Jesus came to save all people.
Blessings as you ponder anew the arrival of the Wise Men and their seeking hearts.
I would recommend the video The Star of Bethlehem produced by Stephen McEveely. You can look it up on their website at http://www.bethlehemstar.net It is fascinating and really faith confirming about how all the universe proclaims the arrival of God’s Son.
Today’s passage is amazingly beautiful, descriptive of our Savior and presents us with a challenge and hope for the future. Philippians 2:5-11 is a well known and often quoted portion of scripture. I like the New Living Translation of this passage,
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (our challenge as believers)
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What was Jesus’ attitude?He was not filled with self-pride. He could have been as He was God and possessed power and might beyond measure. But, He acted with sacrificial humility and came to earth in human form with the purpose of saving us though His death on the cross. He was obedient to God’s plan of redemption. The result was God honored His obedience forever and made us all be subject to Jesus. What a challenge to live each day with an attitude like Christ’s with humility, a servant’s heart, a willingness to put others first and with pure devotion and love for God. Only through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit is it possible. Jesus promised in Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”Live life each day, trusting in the power of Jesus, the name above all names!
As I read this passage, I am awestruck by Jesus’ humility and sacrifice. He gave up His position in heaven to come to earth to save and to serve. How much He must love us!
My joy is increased today:
as I consider how much God loves me.
as I see that obedience brings blessings.
as I see that no matter how things look right now, God has a plan for eternity and is in His control.
as I realize that Jesus in King now and forever!
Have a blessed day and may there be joy in your heart and on your lips!
One of the images presented in scripture is of God as our eternal King. This seems like an earthly title but when we consider His kingdom and what it is like, we realize that His reign is way beyond any earthly kingdom. Jesus tell us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God’s kingdom is not territory driven but character driven.Romans 14:17adds more, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” His kingdom is a place of joy, peace and dwelling with God. 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power.” His kingdom is based on His power and might. Scripture tells us Jesus is and will be our king. Hebrews 1:8 “But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.”
David knew God was and is king forever. Psalm 145:1 “I will extol you, my God and King,and bless your name forever and ever.” Jeremiah proclaimed God the living eternal King in Jeremiah 10:10 “But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.”Daniel knew who God was as stated in Daniel 2:37 “You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory,”
Today question is:Who is God to you? Is He your King and if so do you desire to be a member of His Kingdom? Meditate on Psalm 145:1, Jeremiah 10:10 and Daniel 2:37 and analyze your own thoughts about who God is and your relationship to Him. If you find Him to be your King, then think about your life and ask yourself if you are acting like a member of His kingdom. Are you driven by earthly desires or by wanting to be more and more like Jesus so your character counts? Jesus desires to abide in us and be the driving force and power within our lives. We have to relinquish ourselves to Him and desire to be citizens of His kingdom. Through salvation in Jesus, we are citizens of heaven, praise the Lord! Take heart in Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”
On this last day of 2018, we conclude with the final chorus of the Messiah. The scene is the throne room of heaven in John’s vision and Jesus is being praised and worshiped. Revelation 5:9-13
9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
They begin by singing a new song. In the Old Testament, a new song was sung to celebrate and act of divine deliverance or blessing. Here the creatures and angels are praising Jesus, the Lamb, who delivered all mankind through his blood. Jesus is worthy to receive all power, wealth, wisdom, honor and blessing because of the ransom He paid with His blood on the cross. All heaven and earth will praise Him! What a glorious scene this will be. Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, is Worthy of all Praise!
And so… what a fitting way to end our year. Let us praise our Savior and Redeemer. Let your lips utter praise today for all this last year has brought both good and bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Ponder the difficulties you’ve had in your life this year in light of James 1:2-4 “2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Let us take the adversity we experienced and the blessings we received and offer them up to Jesus today as and offering of praise and thanksgiving.
It is fitting today we will conclude Advent with the Hallelujah Chorus. Tradition calls for standing during this chorus but no one really knows the reason for this. Some say it was when the King stood upon hearing this glorious chorus in 1743 at it’s premier because he was so moved. When the king or queen stand, etiquette requires that everyone else stand and so the tradition continues to this day. What ever the reason, the music is glorious and pays tribute to our God who Reigns forever. The words were taken from Revelation 19:6, 11:15 and 19:16. The facts of these verses are gloriously woven into this Chorus.
Blessings to you this Christmas and thanks for going with me on this journey through the Messiah. I have seen prophesies that I had not realized before and heard them put to song in a marvelous way. I pray it was a blessing to you and to our Savior. I truly believe the sentiment of my Christmas Greeting given in John 1:16 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” We are blessed by His marvelous Grace each day. Hallelujah andMerry Christmas!
Revelation 19:6speaks of the glorious gathering to celebrate the lamb of God, Jesus and His bride the church. “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.“
Revelation 11:15 “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” This kingdom rule was foretold in Zechariah 14:9 “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.”
Revelation 19:16 “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
The duties of the risen Messiah are foretold in Psalm 2:7-9. I chose the Amplified version to give us some additional help in understanding these words included in the Messiah.
“I will declare the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son; This day [I proclaim] I have begotten You. 8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will assuredly give [You] the nations as Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth as Your possession. 9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall shatter them [in pieces] like earthenware.’”
Paul quotes verse 7 in his impassioned preaching to the Jews in Antioch recorded in Acts 13:32-33. He was describing Jesus as the awaited and prophesied Messiah. “And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers,33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” God claims Jesus as Son and establishes His right to rule over all the earth. The author of Hebrews also includes verse 7 when referring to Christ’s God given superiority over all angelic beings. He rightly includes all beings in heaven and earth will worship the Son. Hebrews 1:5-6 “For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
What do these prophecies mean to us? Our Savior and Lord is God’s Son and will rule over all creation both in heaven and on earth. This is not wishful thinking by God but presented as fact that His Son will rule as King. God gives each of us to His Son as a precious possession. Ephesians 1:14 refers to all believers as belonging to Christ and being sealed by His Holy Spirit. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Peter also refers to believers as being a special possession of Christ’s in 1 Peter 2:9“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Peter reminds us we are called to proclaim Jesus as we have seen His light and were called out of unbelief.
Let us praise our risen King and all He accomplished on our behalf as we consider the babe in the manger. I love the description of Jesus in Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Thank you Jesus.
Psalm 24:7-10 comes alive through the hands of Handel in the Messiah. As I read the words I can hear melody as he accentuates them. They are words that have been sung many times over the ages from David to today- if you have time, listen to Chris Tomlin’s version of these ancient words too. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.
David first penned these words to celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David realized the ark represented the dwelling place of God among them and wanted God to be in their midst. This song shows the emotional return of the Lord to Zion. It points to the Lord’s triumphant return. This occurred in David’s time with the return of the ark, in Jesus’ time with His arrival in Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and points to Jesus’ return at the end of time. Matthew 21:9 records the crowd’s praise as Jesus entered Jerusalem. “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” In John’s vision we see Christ returning to the city, Revelation 19:11-13 “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”
The psalmist questions, Who is this King of glory?The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory. His conclusion points to the sovereignty, power, and magnificence of God. How would you answer this question? Is God your Lord Almighty? Do you see and recognize Him as the King of all heaven and earth and see a world filled with glory? The Glory of God is by definition the sum total of all God’s attributes. Throughout history God has revealed His power, mercy, grace, judgement, holiness, love, kindness and every other attribute. In the Old Testament God was symbolically present with the people in the glory cloud known as the Shekinah glory. God indwelt the tabernacle and later the temple. Today God dwells with us through His Holy Spirit that indwells every believer. The Lord Jesus Christ reveals God’s glory completely!
Ponder anew today the glory of God revealed in Jesus His Son. Celebrate His coming this Advent Season with joy and praises! The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory. Open the doors of your heart and let Him in for He is strong, mighty and filled with glory!
Here is another more modern rendition of the ancient words by Chris Tomlin- enjoy!