Volume. XXVIII, No. 27
Sunday, 05 January 2014


The Wise Men and The Birth of Jesus - Part 2


This edited message was delivered on Christmas Day 2013.

…...continued from last week.

There are five indisputable facts in Matthew 2: 1-12.

1. The Declaration by the Wise men that Jesus is the Messiah and King of the Jews.

2. The Worship of Jesus by both Jews and Gentiles.

3. The Decrees of God that Jesus is to be known and worshipped.

4. Jesus causes difficulty to those who do not want to worship Him.

5. Worshipping Jesus attributes authority and dignity to Him with sacrificial gifts.       

 

1. The Declaration by the Wise men that Jesus is the Messiah and King of the Jews

The Apostle Matthew's introduction in verse 1: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.”

 

A. The Birth of Jesus.

Firstly, Matthew states that our Lord Jesus was born in the City of David, Bethlehem, in Judaea, but gave no precise date. Luke in his Gospel did not tell us the date either! Most scholars assume Christ’s birth as between 6 and 4 BC.

 

B. The Birth of Jesus under the reign of King Herod the Great.

Secondly, Matthew said our Lord Jesus was born at the time of “Herod the King.”  This Herod was known as Herod the Great and he started the Herodian dynasty, a Judaean dynasty of Idumaean/Edomite descent. His father was Antipater, an Edomite, a descendant of Esau, and his mother, Cyprus (Cypros), a Nabataean from Petra. According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, the Nabataeans were identified with Ishmael’s first son, Nabajoth (Gen 25:13). That means Herod was not Jewish by ancestry, but a proselyte of Judaism. Even though Herod might have considered himself to belong to the Jewish faith, the observant and nationalistic Jews did not consider him as Jewish. He was made a Roman client-king of Judaea by the Roman Senate in 37 BC. He has been described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis," "the evil genius of the Judean nation," "prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition" and ironically "the greatest builder in Jewish history." He was called “the great” because of his many great building achievements. He died soon after the birth of Christ in 4 BC.

 

C. The wise men from the east.

Thirdly, Matthew revealed that “wise men from the east to Jerusalem” came to see the infant Jesus. These wise men were the magi.

 

Traditional nativity scenes always depict three wise men but the Gospel of Matthew makes no mention of the number of magi who came that day. Not much is known about these magi. We do not know their names, how they travelled to Palestine, or what country or countries they came from. Traditionally, they were known as Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They were also named by others as Apellus, Amerus and Damasius.

(Source - http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/churchhistory/qt/3Magi.htm).

 

All we know from this Gospel is that they came “from the east to Jerusalem.” In New Testament times, the magi were known to be of the priestly-political class of the Parthians – and Parthia was situated East of Palestine, in Modern Iran.

 

D. The Prophet Daniel imparted the knowledge of God to the magi.

The magi, according to the book of Daniel, were among the highest-ranking officials in Babylon. God gave Daniel the ability to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream - which none of the other court seers was able to do. Consequently, in Daniel 2:48, we learned that “the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.” Daniel’s great wisdom and his success in pleading for the lives of the wise men who had failed to interpret the king’s dream (Dan 2:24), caused him to be highly respected and honoured among the fellow magi. He became the chief of the magi, hence the title “Rab-mag.” Due to Daniel’s powerful and high position in government, he must have communicated the knowledge of the True God, His will and plans for His people, Israel, and the future coming of the Messiah to the magi and people in Babylon. As many Jews were in Babylon, Jewish influence must have been strong amongst the people in that empire, and continued even at the time of our Lord’s birth.

 

E. These wise men knew who the infant Jesus was.

When these wise men came to Jerusalem they asked “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” (verse 2).

 

For them to ask “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” has significant implications. They wanted to know about this special infant who was destined to become King of the Jews! These wise men knew who this infant Jesus was and what would become of Him.

 

F. The wise men followed this star.

The magi or wise men knew what they were looking for. They wanted to know where this future King would be. They said in verse 2b “for we have seen his star in the east.” The magi saw “his star” (meaning God’s special star) that led them from their country to Herod’s domain. No one has satisfactorily explained this “star in the east.” Note two things in Matthew that are of special interest:

 

i) Firstly, the text implies that the star was only visible to these wise men. If one were to use the presence of comets, the convergence of planets of Jupiter and Saturn (and possibly Mars) in the constellation of Pisces and exploding stars such as supernova star to explain this special heavenly object then this star would be visible to everyone on earth.

 

ii) Secondly, the star went before the wise men and led them directly from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Verse 9 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. The distance between Jerusalem and Bethlehem is about 9.5 km (6 miles). Due to the earth's rotation, every natural object, planet or star, in the sky moves from east to west. This star of Bethlehem went against this by moving north to south, from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and it led the wise men to a particular place and stopped there. No natural body would do that. If one walks and looks at a star or anything bright in the night sky, this object seems to follow us. The star that the wise men saw stood still over the place where the infant Jesus was. The star of Bethlehem cannot be explained naturally or by science. It was a miracle, created by God for one special purpose.

 

G. The enquiry by the wise men caused a sensation!

When the magi enquired about Jesus it caused a sensation. Verses 3 - 4 “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.” The Roman Senate appointed and called Herod “king of the Jews” but he was never called “Christ” or “Messiah”, meaning “the anointed one.” In verse 2c the wise men said they were “come to worship him. King Herod heard the message and “he was troubled” – he was alarmed that these wise men were not searching for any ordinary human successor to him. They were looking for the FINAL KING to end all kings and they wanted to worship Him. Therefore Herod gathered “all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.” They found it in Micah 5: 2, 6 and these verses were quoted by Matthew in verses 5 and 6.  They read these verses to him: “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.” On hearing this Herod must have been shocked and felt threatened. He realised that this child born somewhere in his province was no ordinary person. This child King was born in Bethlehem and His rule would not be limited to Israel. He would be the Messiah and King of the Jews as well as of the Gentiles. ….to be continued.

 

Elder Michael D Lee


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Bro Raphael Ng. Next Lord’s Day: Volunteer.

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm. Good Bibles (English & Mandarin) available.

*Session wishes all worshippers a Blessed, Joyous and Spirit-filled New Year.

*Please note: Bible Study on The Epistle of Jude on Wed.

*Next QTR’s Junior & Adult, Mandarin RPGs, & Daily Manna are available on literature table. Please use these for your daily devotions. Donation: $1.

*Latest “Bible Witness” also available. Please take a copy.

*Church activities (AFG, Adult Sunday School, Ladies’ Fellowship, Men’s Fellowship, Neighbourhood Bible Study, & Teens) will commence soon. Please make an effort to attend at least one of these.

*Drivers needed to help with transporting worshippers to and back from church on Sundays.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Dn Colin & Sis Grace Gan & family; Dns Joyce Gong; Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong; Bros Pirun Pech (Adl) & Paul Tay (S’pore); Mr Chen Ooi; Sisters Xiao Hui Chye & family, Julie Tan, Sharon Tay (Adl), Mary Ting & family (Fiji); See & Yeo families & Serene Wong (S’pore); Miss Siew Khim Tan (Sibu); & others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. Funeral Service at Mt Barker yesterday for the late Sis Sylvia White.

3. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

4. Visitors & new worshippers.

 

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Ruth Ngoma, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi & Sis Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello; Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Special Prayer: Bro Sis Nita Chong’s cousin (Mr Seck Aik Foo - salvation & healing) & Sis Iris Surman’s brother (healing).

3. God’s comfort & strength: Sis Julie Tan & family, & relatives; Mrs Helen Jenkins & family.

4. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

5. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry (Phnom Penh); Khmer pastors & families.

6. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam, family & Ministry.

7. New Life BPC (London) - God’s guidance.

8. Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Preacher David & Sis Susan Weng. 

9. Journey mercies: Bro Yung & Sis Nita Chong & family (Malaysia); Sis Natalie Cheng (Adl); & others travelling.

10. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11. Job - Bro Jonathan Liao (Syd); Sisters Yashu Qin & Sharon Ying (Per); & others looking for stable jobs.

12. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Kerrie Lam & Monica Tan

13. Hopefuls away in different countries: safety, health & protection.

14. Godly Wisdom - those in authority in Government.

15. Recovery from Caesarean section: Sis Susan Weng; Development & health: Caleb Weng.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063