Matthew 2 begins with quite a stir in the city,
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod's kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. Matthew 2:1A great company of exotic foreigners had arrived in Jerusalem from the east with all their retinue. The traditional number is three magi, because they presented three gifts to the Christ child. But there were probably many more than just three.
These were important people, most likely Gentiles who had come from Chaldea with a large caravan of camels with their loads, and a full complement of servants and guards. They made their way to the largest Ritz Carlton in town, got checked in, then immediately headed over to the palace to find out where the new king of the Jews had been born,
They asked around, "Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We're on pilgrimage to worship him." Matthew 2:2All of Jerusalem was upset.
Matthew was continuing to show how the Jews had completely missed recognizing Jesus' credentials as the Messiah. God had established His people thousands of years before to cherish and keep His word, to love, worship and obey Him and to wait expectantly for the Messiah Who would free them from bondage. All the rest of the world was also waiting for this big event. About a dozen or so ancient historians recorded this phenomenon.
Even the Roman historian Tacitus in the days of Caesar wrote about the expectation of a ruler being born near the province of Judea. But what actually happened is that when the real king, the one the rest of the world had been waiting for, was born in the one place only a real king could be born in, during the days of the pretend king who was falsely ruling over God's people, wise men, bringing God's wisdom, came from far away to God's holy and royal city where there didn’t seem to be any wise people.
Originally, God had made humankind in His own image, making us to fit Him in a perfect way, filling us with His own breath. God had created humankind to be in eternal fellowship with Himself.
God loves His people deeply, in ways we can hardly imagine, having designed us to be His intimate companion, just as He designed Eve to correspond to Adam. God intends for us to be made one with Him in a profound intimacy. This is a person's greatest purpose and blessing, and it was Messiah Who would provide the way for eternal fellowship with God.
So God's people were supposed to be alert, watch for the signs. In Genesis 1:14 God had said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens...let them be for signs..." Before there were satellites and other sophisticated technologies, the stars and planets were used for navigation, clocking the seasons, measuring large distances on the earth for map-making purposes, and so on.
Then in Numbers 24:17 God said a specific sign would come, "A star shall come out of Jacob..." King David himself had written "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork," (Psalm 19:1)
Ancient people understood this to mean that God would literally reveal signs of what lay in the immediate, and far future in the sky, in the alignment of the stars and planets, so they made a close study of the patterns in the night sky. But only these wise men from the east, astronomers who recorded the movement of stars, comets and planets, and scholars who were familiar with the Hebrew scriptures, had taken God’s word seriously.
There was evidently an unusual phenomenon in the sky that these men recognized as being directly connected with the prophecy concerning Messiah.
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