Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Three Wisemen: Gentiles Convicting God's People

God's people were supposed to be mindful of the prophecies, so they could be ready when their Messiah came.

There were specific prophecies, a baby boy, begotten by God, born of a virgin in Bethlehem, Who will be heralded by a star coming out of the house of Jacob. In order, those prophecies were delivered by some heavy hitters:

King David, Isaiah, Micah, and Moses

Not only that, the prophet Daniel had predicted a particular point in history when this Messiah would be born, so the whole known world was breathless with anticipation.

Apparently, however, the Jews had been caught by surprise.
When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. Matthew 2:3
So Herod got together all his seminary people
He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, "Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?"Matthew 2:4
First were the chief priests, who came from the religious aristocracy, they were the CEO’s of Judaism, Bible experts. Next were the scribes, what we would call lawyers today, men who had taken their studies in Old Testament law, along with all the law commentaries.

The scribes and chief priests had a lot of work to do, pouring over their manuscripts, conferencing together, trying to figure out what was going on, trying to get the right information to a very agitated and upset Herod, who was known for his viciousness and cruelty whenever he felt someone was threatening his crown. They finally narrowed in on a prophecy written six hundred years before Jesus was born
They told him, "Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

It's you, Bethlehem, in Judah's land,
no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel." Matthew 2:5-6
And Micah finished that verse with the words “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."

This is the first of four fulfillments of prophecy in this chapter and is a continuation of Matthew’s catalogue of Christ’s credentials. He was born a human baby, Son of Man, but He was also Son of God, from the “days of eternity.” He was born in the hamlet of Bethlehem, an inconsequential dot on the map, but it was the birthplace of Kings, the very root and stump of Jesse, and from it now sprang this young shoot, the ruler who would sit on the throne of Judah forever.

After the scribes and chief priests had presented their case, Herod was convinced.
Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, "Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I'll join you at once in your worship." Matthew 2:7-8
Herod was of course disguising what he really wanted to do, so he could manipulate these well-meaning foreigners into doing his leg work for him. The wise men believed him
Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! Matthew 2:9-10
How were they able to follow a star? Matthew doesn’t tell us, but certainly God was in it, because He makes Himself known to the people who genuinely look for Him.

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