Matthew 2:1-12 — The Appearance of the Wise Men Here is No Accident…It Is The Fruit of Seeds Planted 600 Years Earlier

Posted: August 22, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 2:1-12 — Today, we move into a rather busy passage about the visit of the wise men from the eastern lands. There is a lot of things to write about here so we will camp out for while in this passage. At first, when I read through this passage again, I was at a loss for what to write about. However, when you read and re-read a passage and not just gloss over to say that you have read it, the Holy Spirit will bring forth illumination. So, as we work through this, let us give praise to the power of the Holy Spirit that inspires and makes things known to us that we cannot see without his presence…

The first thing that comes to my heart and mind is the planting of evangelistic seeds. We have heard the story of the wise men so many times that sometimes we gloss over the significance of their presence in this story. Let’s think on this for a bit today. That these men were not from the people of Israel shows the power of God’s Word.

Not much else is known about these wise men other than their presence in the birth story of Jesus Christ. Why were they called wise men by Matthew? Many scholars believe that it was because they were of the order of the Maji in the Parthian empire (the empire that replaced Babylon as the major power in area that we now call Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia). The Maji were a priestly group who studied the stars, the earth, and all things physical of the earth. They were a class of people that were academics and were advisors to the king of their empire. So, to us, they would be like these think-tank kind of guys that are advisors to presidents and leaders of other countries. They were each kind of like a subject matter expert in the various areas of human life. The majic believed in a single god of the universe who expressed himself in the stars and in the world through how all these things related to each other. The movement of the stars in the sky and where they moved to was of great significance to them because certain shifts in the sky could mean great events were about to happen – information necessary to the Parthian emperor. Having said all that, then, what’s the connection to God’s Word?

If you remember correctly from reading the Old Testament, when Babylon conquered the southern kingdom of Israel in 586 BC, just about all of the Jews were deported from their homeland to Babylon. With them with the holy Scriptures of the Old Testament. As Jews assimilated themselves into Babylonian culture, they shared their faith and way of life with the Babylonians. It just happens when you mix people from different ethnic, social, and geographic backgrounds. One man distinguished himself in service within the Babylonian empire. His name was Daniel. During this time, Daniel served in prominent positions in the governments of several Babylonian and Parthian rulers, including Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. When King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him in the second year of his reign, God revealed the meaning of the dream to Daniel in a night vision (Daniel 2:19). “Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:48). There’s the connection!!!

Daniel most certainly would have had influence over the “thinkers”, the wise men, the advisory class of the emperor. I bet that he shared the Scriptures and his testimony with the maji. It is a pretty good bet that this academic group studied the Jewish scriptures thoroughly as they probably did the great literature of other societies. It was God’s Holy Word though that has the Holy Spirit hovering around it to illuminate and give understanding to its readers when their hearts are open to it. Over the almost 600 years between Daniel being in his position in the Babylonian empire and the birth of Jesus, these academics through those centuries probably became very familiar with the prophecies of the Old Testament. They knew God’s Word because of Daniel. Daniel, a faithful servant of the Lord, most assuredly shared his faith and God’s Word with the power elite of Babylon. Isn’t amazing when you see this connection. Six hundred years later, the wise men from the east appear in the birth story of Jesus Christ. This is evangelism bearing its fruit, my friends.

What can we learn from the maji crossing the horizon in this story? We learn that no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, whether we are in captivity, whether we are living through oppression, whether we are just suffering through bad times, we are called to share our faith with others. We plant evangelical seeds. We may not always see the fruits of our evangelistic efforts. As a matter of fact, we most likely will not. We plant seeds anyway. We share our faith. We live out our faith no matter the place or the circumstances. Daniel most assuredly lived out his faith in the middle of what was a really low point in Jewish history. He was faithful to God even when he found himself in captivity. He lived out his faith in the middle of a nation that worshiped things other than the one true God. He shared his faith with those who held different beliefs from him. His legacy of sharing God’s Word lasted for centuries. He introduced the Scriptures to maji who by the time of Jesus knew them very well. So much so, that some of them were so moved by the star signifying the birth of Jesus that they followed it a great distance to meet the King who would change the world forever.

We are called to make disciples my friends. Just look at the results of Daniel’s faithful witness. We share the gospel. We share the change that God has wrought in our lives. We live out our faith in integrity so that people will be drawn to the Lord. We must be on-mission every day no matter what we are doing or what situation we find ourselves in. It is not optional. It is a command from Jesus Himself. Go. Make disciples. We share the faith. It is not up to us to see what God does with it, but He will do something with it. Some 600 years after Daniel, we see men seeking the young King Jesus. Our efforts in sharing the gospel bring glory to God. The seeds that you plant now may alter the path of a family, several generations of a family. That’s impact, my friends. God will use it to change generations of people!

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