By: Mary E. Adams
I know that this picture makes us think of Christmas...the nativity, the wisemen. It seems all too early to send it, being as Christmas is several months away. But it interests me...these wisemen. They were not said to be "kings," nor does the Bible state there were only three....they were called, simply, "wise men". And as the saying goes, "wise men still seek Him."
Yet have you ever stopped to think that they did not start out for Bethlehem the day before Christ was born? They had left the east many, many weeks before, as it was a very long journey. Most likely, they had never visited Judea before. But strangely guided by a peculiar star, they loaded their camels with provisions and gifts and headed for their destination with nothing more than faith that they had figured right...the long awaited king of the Jews was being born. They had discerned the times.
I think of this as such a remarkable achievement. They had no super-computer or satellite to guide them...only the heavens and an ancient wisdom which told of a "gospel written in the stars." In the pictorial constellation of Virgo (which means virgin), they saw a new star arise exactly placed in the branch she held in her hand. Long before, the prophet Isaiah had written, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." The prophet Zechariah had gone further saying: "Behold, the man whose name is The BRANCH, and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne." They knew him as King of the Jews.
I have always believed that these men were from Babylon, left-over Jews from Nebuchadnezzar's captivity, perhaps men who studied the writings of Daniel and were, like him, skillful in wisdom and understanding in all visions and dreams. Daniel had interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a great image of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay, representing successive kingdoms to come. Yet he spoke of a kingdom which would never be destroyed...an everlasting kingdom given to the saints of the Most High. He was writing, of course, about Jesus Christ.
I did a little studying on those times...In Judea, Herod the Great was old and soon to die. He had killed his own wife and two of his sons and slaughtered his enemies viciously. The very mention of his name brought great fear into the hearts of the people. Even during the days before his death, this cruel despot knew that there would be great rejoicing soon, so in order that there be mourning in the land he ordered 200 of the principal men of Israel to be slain immediately upon his decease. Killing the innocents at Bethlehem would be an easy thing to do.
But Herod was merely a puppet king...someone to placate the Jews. He had built them a temple in Jerusalem and a large building in Hebron over the tomb of Abraham. The Romans kept garrisons of soldiers to quell the riots that were always arising...and there was constant fighting in the land as Jews challenged their oppressors.
However, the wise men were not the only ones to sense the greatest event of all time. Simeon, the aged man who "waited for the consolation of Israel" had heard from the Holy Ghost that he would not die until he had seen "the Lord's Christ." Both he and the prophetess Anna would later view this baby Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem. She would give thanks likewise unto the Lord, and "spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
Matthew Henry, the commentator, wrote:
"It was the will of God that notice should be given of his coming a great while before, not only to the people of the Jews, but to other nations, because his gospel and kingdom were to extend themselves so far beyond the borders of the land of Israel."
The prophets had foretold it. Job saw Him as a Redeemer. Balaam saw and prophesied that He would come out of Jacob and Israel as a star and a scepter, and that He would have Dominion. The prophet Micah declared the very village he would be born in...Bethlehem. Christ would not only be King of Jacob and Israel, but of all the world. It would be an everlasting kingdom.
As I think of this extraordinary event, the birth of Christ... it is as if 2,000 years later we seem to be living on the threshold of His imminent return. So many signs point to that fact. Yet the world is not looking for Him...not like these wise men, who left all, not merely to look at Him, but to "come and worship Him." Not like Simeon who prayed so earnestly that he would not die until he had seen this special child. Not like the widow Anna who offered up prayers and fastings daily in the temple and spoke about Him to all who would listen. Not like the simple shepherds who looked nightly to the heavens that "declared the glory of God" and yearned for Him.
There seems to be a great distinction between those who simply had knowledge of ancient prophecies concerning the "Messiah" and between the few humble men and women who daily eagerly awaited... almost breathlessly, for it to happen. And so it seems repeated in our time. Our world is in chaos, just as it was then. There is much blood being shed in the streets of Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, yet at the same time...in the same place, people rush to buy game machines and glue themselves to stock market figures. It is a time when Innocents are butchered...not by Herod's cohorts.... but in abortion mills all over the world.
It is a time when many may know and be able to quote the prophecies concerning Jesus, yet have neglected to fill their lamps with oil...they are too busy being "religious". Two thousand years later, we long for his re-appearance and are looking for His soon return. But in our mangled spiritual condition, we sometimes seem totally lacking in our ability to discern the times we live in. If, for instance, we were as watchful as these ancient wise men, perhaps we might be preparing our lives in anticipation of His soon return. Wise men are like the wise virgins...there is sufficient oil in their lamps for the journey.
Years ago, when we lived north of here in Fairbanks, I met an old Eskimo lady...112 years old! She was still strong and healthy, living by herself, cutting her own wood for her stove. I remember what she told me. "I so long for Jesus to return. Every morning I go and look out my kitchen window...hoping to see Him descending out of a cloud...because the angels said he would come just like He went." What a precious lady! She simply believed it and lived every moment for this great event to happen. She is dead now, but she will be among those whose graves will open and who rise to meet Him in the air. One of those "special ones" who will be rewarded for her faithfulness at the brightness of His coming...again!
Celebrations, giving and receiving of gifts, holidays, delicious food...these are the trappings of "Christmas" in our world. But those who will share the greatest joy will be the wisemen, the shepherds, the Simeons, and the Anna's of our generation who long for His soon re-appearing and have prepared themselves for that glorious day...
"For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him". ( Isaiah 64:4)
I pray you will be listening to the Spirit, fasting and praying, watching the heavens, and preparing to "come and worship Him"...He draws nigh!
I am thinking that God reserved a special blessing on these wisemen, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna. Why? Because they were longing and looking for Him.
Two thousand years later, we long for his re-appearance and are looking for His soon return. But in our mangled spiritual condition, we sometimes seem totally lacking in our ability to discern the times we live in. If, for instance, we were as watchful as these ancient wise men, perhaps we might be preparing our lives in anticipation of His soon return.
Mary E. Adams
DEAR READER: Thank you for taking the time to read this. If it has ministered hope, encouragement or insight to you in any way, would you please take the time to send Mary Adams a quick E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and share the blessing with her? She would love to hear from you!
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