Many people take their interpretation of Scripture from movies or Christmas plays. There are even some Christians who don’t study Scripture and believe a secular idea is Scriptural truth. We shouldn’t do that.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
If we don’t study Scripture, we allow human ideas to influence our view of God’s truth. If we allow ourselves to believe false facts, even ones that seem harmless, it won’t be long until more falsehoods are believed; and soon our faith is based on lies.
The truth of Jesus’ birth, life, and death is much deeper than the false facts many hold as truth. It’s a story of love, redemption, and the miracles of God, but it’s easier to fit the events recorded in Matthew and the events recorded in Luke into one night rather than let the truth of Scripture be understood. These events fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. If we miss that fact, then it just seems like a nice little story separate from the rest of Scripture.
Scripture says that Jesus was born in a manger, but we sometimes miss the importance of that fact. God chose to enter His creation without the grand pomp and circumstance which usually greets a king. Jesus’ birth was humble and so was His life, yet He changed the world. This is an example to us as to how we should live. The first announcement of the birth of the King of kings wasn’t made to royalty, religious leaders, or to the upper class of society. The angels (God’s messengers) announced His birth to the lowliest people of that time.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid” (Luke 2:8-9).
Shepherds weren’t the most respected people of the day. Their job was necessary; but like many necessary jobs, it didn’t carry much honor. The shepherds weren’t too lowly for God. In fact, we know Jesus is our Good Shepherd who guides and leads us daily.
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
Indeed, Jesus did give His life for all who choose to follow Him.
The condensed story that most people view as truth is that the “kings” showed up on the night Jesus was born along with the shepherds, and the star they had followed radiated its light above the manger. That’s a dramatic scene depicting mighty kings worshipping the Baby Jesus alongside the lowly shepherds. The fact is, the wise men (not kings) saw His star and came to worship Him, but not on the night of His birth. The word for “king” is the Greek word “basileus,” while Scripture uses the word “magos,” which means wise men or sages.
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
The star is presumed to be a nova or an alignment of planets, but it apparently moved and shone for many, many days as they followed it. The wise men first went to the king in Jerusalem, whom they felt should have known about the birth of the King of the Jews, but Herod didn’t have a clue. Feeling threatened, he asked Chief Priests and Scribes about this birth. These people should have known it was time for the Messiah to appear and should have been seeking to worship Him.
“And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born” (Matthew 2:4).
These religious leaders knew from a prophecy (Micah 5:2) that He would be born in Bethlehem. Herod passed this information on to the Maggi and asked when the star appeared. He told them to go find the “young child,” then to tell him where to find the Child. Herod didn’t want to worship, but to murder. When the Magi didn’t return to tell him where to find Jesus, Herod used the information about when the star appeared to figure the age of the Child. He would have all children under the age of two killed in order to get rid of this one who was “born King of the Jews.” This was recorded in Matthew 2:16-18 and fulfilled prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15.
In the meantime, the Magi had left Herod to go find Jesus. “When they heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matthew 2:9).
They saw the star again and followed it. It moved and led them to Jesus. This star wasn’t a natural thing. This star shown in the sky and anyone could have followed it, even Herod. Some people choose to be blind to the truth. There is no Scriptural evidence that three men followed that star, but that’s what we’re taught. The star led them to Jesus and stood over “where the young child was.” Jesus was no longer a baby (brephos in Greek), but a young child (paidion in Greek). They also went to a house (oikia in Greek), not a manger (phatne in Greek).
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
They didn’t worship Mary, but they did bring three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold was for a king, frankincense was for worship, and myrrh was a costly perfume used as an antiseptic and for embalming. Three valuable gifts that were symbolic, but also would provide for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus when they had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s fury.
Another clue that this wasn’t on the night of His birth is the fact that Joseph and Mary were Jewish, and the Law was very specific about what was to take place at the birth of a son and for the purification of the mother.
“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (Leviticus 12:2-3).
This was done for Jesus according to the Law. “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).
Mary would have been unclean for seven days and was to offer a sacrifice at the end of that time. “…she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation unto the priest:” (Leviticus 12:6b).
Mary brought Jesus, the Lamb of God, to the Temple but only offered the birds, which was known as “The Offering of the Poor.”
“And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:22-24).
If Joseph and Mary had received the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they could have afforded a lamb. The wise men couldn’t have been there prior to the circumcision or Mary’s sacrifice. Jesus was born in very humble circumstances. When we study what Scripture says, rather than assume that tradition is true, the meaning is much deeper and more profound.
Why hadn’t the wise men been led to Jesus instead of first going to Herod? God gives everyone a chance to come to Jesus, even a man as wicked as Herod. We can choose to seek Him in order to love and worship Him, or we can reject Him. Do you seek Him?
The Maggi were from far away and not Jewish, yet they knew that the “King of the Jews” had been born, because they saw the signs. They travelled a long distance to find Him. Had the Chief Priests and Scribes been interested in prophecy rather than hobnobbing with the evil King Herod, they would have been there with the shepherds worshipping the King of Kings at His birth. Apparently, they were much too busy to concern themselves with prophecy.
Today, prophecy is being fulfilled at a rapid pace. Jesus will come again very soon. This time He will be riding on a white horse, and He will be the conquering King that the Scribes and Pharisees were looking for at His first Advent. Before that Second Coming, there will be many events that take place. Times will become more and more perilous. The next “big event” will be the Rapture. Christians will be called Home and protected from the wrath of God.
Jesus dictated letters to seven Churches, which give a summary of the “church age.” After those letters were finished, John saw the Rapture.
“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1).
Revelation chapters 4 and 5 describe what Raptured Christians will experience in Heaven while the unbelieving world faces the Great Tribulation. Chapter 6 begins to describe the horrors of God’s wrath on earth. Christians won’t see God’s wrath. This is a promise to all who have placed their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the end of that final seven-year period, Jesus will come riding on a white horse to utterly destroy all who follow Satan. You would be wise to seek Him now. It isn’t too late for you to place your faith in Him, but time is drawing short. You must accept Him now while you still are on this side of death.
Whether you’re a shepherd or a king, if you worship Jesus, tell someone about Him. The shepherds did.
“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:18).
It’s urgent for your loved ones to accept Him now. We are living at a time when prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes. If you haven’t accepted Jesus for salvation, you need to decide today whether you will give your life to Him, or mock and reject Him. It isn’t too late to seek Him now, but you never know when you will take your last breath.
Don’t wait…seek Him today.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.
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