Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
(Matthew 2:1-2 ESV)
Today we read about the wise men who came to worship Jesus after he was born in Bethlehem. While Matthew (and Luke) gives us interesting information about these events, there are many details we don’t know, including exactly who these men were.
The Greek word for “wise men” here is μαγοσ (pronounced: magos) which is not really translatable into English so we just use the word “magi”. Magi were learned men especially in the area of astronomy which is why they notice a star in the sky. This couldn’t have been an ordinary celestial object. If it had been there would have been no reason for them to follow it. There must have been something special about it.
We don’t know what this star was exactly but perhaps it was God Himself providing direction to these men much like He provided direction to the Israelites when they wandered in the Sinai desert for 40 years. During that time God appeared as a pillar of light during the night and a pillar of smoke during the day to guide them [Exodus 13:21].
It’s interesting that these magi were from the east. It was to the east that many Jews had been carried into captivity by the Assyrians and Babylonians hundreds of years earlier when Israel and Judah were conquered. So its seems that these men had come to know the prophecies of the Old Testament as a result of these tragedies that had befallen the Jews.
By dispersing the Jews to Gentile lands, God was dispersing the gospel at the same time. It was always God’s plan to offer salvation to Jews and Gentiles [Romans 1:16]. But He had to get the message to the Gentiles.
So what was a defeat in the eyes of humanity was a victory for God. God can, and does, use all situations to bring about something good [Romans 8:28]. But too often we only see our own difficulties through our selfishness and fail to take into account that what we are going through is all part of God’s bigger plan for good.
At the time I am writing this (I write my blog a few weeks in advance of publication) I find myself in a situation that I don’t want to be in. I’ve been whining to God for a couple of days about how I just want to get out of it. Then as I sit down to write today’s blog entry this very truth comes into my head. God’s timing is amazing.
I am in the situation I’m in not for any earthly benefit of my own. I am in it because God needs me in it to reach others who don’t know Him. What I see as an undesirable situation, God sees as a necessary situation.
The very truth I needed to see but couldn’t was revealed to me through these verses at just the time I needed to see it.
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