|We 3 Kings
"The Visit of the Magi"
The Magi were Parthian Priests, descendants of
the priesthood the Prophet Daniel had organized
in Persia some 500 years earlier, upon learning
the timing of Messiah’s coming. Daniel 9:25
Knowing the time was at hand, these priests had
been searching the heavens for the promised
sign of His coming, a new star in the Eastern sky.
Parthia was a powerful kingdom north and east of
Israel, a remnant of the Persian Empire that had
recently defeated the Roman Legions, and the
Magi were among Parthia’s most powerful leaders.
No Parthian ruler could ascend to the throne
without their blessing and indeed their political
influence was felt through out the Middle East.
Contrary to the popular Christmas Carol,
they were king-makers, not kings, and
they were many more than three.
Since Israel was under Roman control, the
Magi technically represented an enemy country.
Aware of this, but not intimidated, they traveled
in a huge caravan with lots of guards, and their
arrival in Jerusalem set the whole city a-buzz.
Herod would be called a Jordanian today.
He was appointed King by the Roman Senate.
In short he was a pretender to the throne in
Israel, and now these Parthian King-makers had
come seeking the one born to be Israel’s King.
No wonder he was disturbed.
The three gifts are symbolic of the Messiah’s
three present offices in His Kingdom.
Gold is the gift for a King, frankincense points
to the Priest, and myrrh, an embalming spice
that foretold His death, represents the Prophet.
The Magi didn’t arrive on
the night the Lord was born.
The text appears to indicate that by
the time they did arrive, Joseph and
Mary had found a house to stay in.
They had already had Jesus circumcised and
dedicated at the Temple on His eighth day
of life, and Mary had completed her 33 day
time of purification as required by the Law.
If Jesus was born on Rosh HaShannah as seems
likely, the family would have stayed in the Jerusalem
area for Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles
as well, since Joseph’s attendance, along with all
other able bodied males, was mandatory.
Tradition has it that because of his
lifetime of service at the highest levels
of Babylonian and Persian governments,
Daniel had become a wealthy man.
Since he was most likely castrated by
Nebuchadnezzar, he had no heirs, and so after
he formed the Magi, he left his fortune in their
care to be given to the Messiah upon His birth.
If so, then the Magi’s gifts of Gold
Frankincence and Myrrh were Daniel’s
fortune, delivered to Him just in time to
fund His escape from Herod’s soldiers.
The Magi had been watching for the star.
When they first saw it, they made
preparations for a long journey and
once prepared, set out to follow it.
We don’t know exactly where they set out from,
when they first noticed the star, or how long it
took them to get ready, but their journey could
easily have been several hundred miles long.
The only clue we get as to the time of their
arrival is that after asking them when they first
spotted the star, Herod ordered all the boys in
Bethlehem below the age of two years killed.
It’s always fascinated me that after reading
Micah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s birthplace, Herod
and the chief priests sent the Magi to Bethlehem in
search of Him, but didn’t go to see for themselves.
Did they think they were sending the Magi on a
futile search, certain they wouldn’t find anything?
If so, why did they consult their Scriptures
for an answer to Herod’s question, and why
did Herod have all those children killed?
Maybe Herod can be excused for not going.
He wasn’t even Jewish and probably
knew very little of Messianic prophecy.
But the Chief Priests were reading from their
own scriptures, and with evidence of the star
the Magi had followed to confirm the prophecy,
should have been the first to investigate.
After all, Messianic prophecy was being
fulfilled right before their very eyes.
What I’d give to have overheard
their discussions on this.
The nature of the Lord’s life on Earth
had been predicted long before, and right
from the start was proving to be all too real.
The only ones who even had a clue as to
Who He was were given their understanding
through a direct revelation from God.
They included Joseph and Mary of course.
The Parthian priests had learned of Him
through Daniel’s revelation, and the
shepherds witnessed the angelic visitation.
Two others, Simeon and Anna, had both
received direct revelations and served to
confirm everything to Joseph and Mary
in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 19:15.
And that’s it.
Having looked for the arrival of the promised
Messiah for nearly 4000 years, when He
came only a hand full of people understood.
There’s no indication that either the priest
who performed the circumcision or the one
who received the obligatory sacrifice of the
firstborn had any idea who this child was.
We Three Kings of Orient Are
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during
the time of King Herod, Magi came from the East
to Jerusalem and asked “Where is the one who has
been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the
East and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:1-2
This story actually began just over 600 years
earlier during the life of Daniel the Prophet.
As a teenager Daniel, a prince of Israel, was
taken hostage by the King of Babylon to
insure that the provisions of a peace treaty
between Israel and Babylon would be obeyed.
But Israel’s kings repeatedly violated
the treaty and so the Babylonians burned
Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple to the
ground and took all the Jews captive to
Babylon where they remained for 70 years.
Toward the end of this 70 year period,
Daniel, now an old man, was praying to
God, asking for the release of His people.
While praying he was visited by the Angel
Gabriel and given a message that has
become the single most important piece
of prophetic scripture in the entire Bible.
This message is contained in Daniel 9:24-27.
It revealed the time of the Messiah’s coming,
His subsequent death and the destruction of
Jerusalem, and an overview of the events
leading up to the End of the Age.
Daniel had become the head of a group of royal
advisors who were both wise and spiritual.
According to tradition, he shared Gabriel’s
message with them and admonished them
to incorporate it into their wisdom, to be
handed down from generation to generation
until the time of Messiah’s birth.
(He also entrusted them with the wealth he had
acquired a lifetime of service to several kings
to be delivered to the Messiah upon his birth.)
Over the following 500 years this group became
a powerful priesthood that was so influential
in the affairs of the kingdom (now called Parthia)
that no king could reign without their approval.
Central to their philosophy was the belief handed
down to them over the centuries that one day
soon God would send One who would be born to
the throne putting to an end all the intrigue that
usually accompanied the appointment of a king.
The general time of the coming of this King
was known to them from Daniel’s teaching
as was the sign they would be given.
A special star would appear in the sky,
marking His arrival. Numbers 24:17
When the star appeared, a delegation
of this Parthian priesthood, known
as the Magi, set out for Jerusalem.
There were undoubtedly more than three
of them since dignitaries of the day traveled
in a great entourage both for protection
and as a sign of their importance.
Plus in this case they were traveling
through enemy territory since a few years
earlier Parthia had repelled a Roman invasion
and the Romans were now entrenched in Israel.
No wonder Herod and indeed all Jerusalem
were disturbed by their arrival. Matthew 2:3
Keep in mind Herod was not even Jewish.
He was an Idumean (Jordanian) who had
been appointed by the Roman Senate, and
now some powerful foreign king makers
were coming to claim that there was one
who was born to be King of the Jews.
Surely this natural born king would
have a more powerful claim to the
throne than a foreign appointee.
Imagine Herod’s fear then they came
asking, “Where is the one who has
been born King of the Jews?”
When Herod summoned the Jewish
scholars for information regarding this
king, they concluded from Micah 5:2 that
the Messiah would come from Bethlehem.
Herod then met secretly with the Magi
and determined the time when the
star had first appeared.
He sent them to Bethlehem in search of
the child, hoping through them to learn
of His whereabouts himself. Matthew 2:4-8
Guided by the star the Magi came to the house
where Jesus and Mary and Joseph were staying.
They presented Him with three gifts rich
in symbolism and worshipped Him there.
The gold they gave Him signified royalty and
identified Him as a King, the frankincense
spoke of His Priesthood, and the myrrh
was a prophecy of His death since myrrh
was known primarily as an embalming spice.
These 3 gifts represented the 3 offices
of the Messiah, Prophet, Priest and King and
were from the treasure Daniel had left to Him.
In the millennium, the Messiah will once again
be given gifts, but this time only 2; gold and
frankincense. Isaiah 60:6 No more death.
The Magi, being warned in a dream, did
not reveal the child’s location to Herod
and returned home by a different route.
When Herod realized he’d been ignored,
he was furious and gave orders to kill all
the boys in Bethlehem who were 2 years
old, and younger in accordance with the
time he had learned from the Magi.
But Joseph had also been warned of Herod’s
anger and took his family into Egypt, remaining
there until Herod died. Matthew 2:13-16
From this we can conclude that the Magi didn’t
arrive in Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born.
They probably set out on their journey when the
star first appeared, indicating the Lord’s birth.
Allowing time to confirm the sign of the star,
make preparations to leave and then travel
nearly 800 miles they could have arrived in
Jerusalem as much as a year or two later.
Hence the execution of all the boys
in Bethlehem 2 years old and younger.
Sometimes what isn’t said in
Scripture is as revealing as what is.
Even after reading the prophecy in Micah 5:2
and receiving the dual confirmation of the
star and the arrival of the Magi, neither
Herod nor the Jewish spiritual and political
leaders went to Bethlehem themselves.
We can understand Herod’s response; he wasn’t
even Jewish and feared the discovery of a rival
claim to the throne. But Israel had waited for
centuries for the Messiah, and these leaders
had the same knowledge as the Magi.
The prophecies were written in their
own Scriptures, and were being
fulfilled right before their eyes.
The problem was that the Jewish leadership
had long before departed from a literal
interpretation of Scripture, and the
ruling Sadducean party had rejected
predictive prophecy as unreliable
and not meant for their time.
Having deemed it irrelevant they ignored
it and missed the event they had longed for.
The spiritual and political leaders of our
generation have made the very same
mistake, only this time it’s for keeps;
there’s no prophecy of a 3rd coming.
So once again, it's proven true:
The only thing we learn from history
is that we learn nothing from history.
Jack Kelley - Grace Thru Faith
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