Sunday, December 30, 2018
Lessons from the Wise Men
Often you will hear me quote other men of God that I have a great deal of respect for. (Ex. Spurgeon, D.L Moody, David Jeremiah, J Vernon McGee, Adrian Rogers etc.) Why do I do this? Because these men have proved to be very wise men. Many of the men I have mention have spent many years studying the Word of God and I have benefited greatly from their ministry. There are also many wise men that I have met personally throughout my life & ministry that have been a great influence and example.
We can learn much from the wisdom, experience and life lessons of others. The Word of God is full of men and women that we can learn from. Today, I want to examine the Wise Men mentioned here in Matthew 2:1-12.
After they journey to Nazareth there is a period of time that passes before the events that are recorded in our text for today. As we arrive at Matthew chapter 2, we read of a group of men who are described as “Wise men”. Let’s look at their story.
After the birth of Christ these “wise men” entered Jerusalem. Wise Men - Magi
Many times, you will hear these men referred to as “The Three Wise Men.” There is actually no evidence to support this assumption. There were 3 gifts that were offered but there could have been 2, 20 or 200 wise men. Some believe that the “Wise men” were a group of astronomers from the Mesopotamia area. They approached Herod and asked for information concerning another King … “The King of the Jews” There is another misconception about this story and it is concerning the timeline of this event. These men did not find “the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes” In these verses, Jesus is referred to as “the young child”
Vs. 9 “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.”
Vs.11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother.”
Vs. 13 “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’”
Vs. 14 “And he arose and took the child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt.”
There is also more evidence of the timeline found in Herod’s attempt to destroy Christ. Herod had all children in Bethlehem under 2 years old destroyed.
Vs. 16-18 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Let’s look for a moment at the vicious King who would destroy all of these children.
Vs. 3-7 “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’”
We are told that after the disclosure from the “wise men” that King Herod “was troubled”. He called the chief priest and scribes together and questions them about the Messiah’s birthplace.
He is told that He was to be born in Bethlehem. How did they know this? THE WORD OF GOD! –
Micah 5:2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”
It is rather interesting that the Jewish leaders knew the prophecies but cared not to go and see for themselves. Much could be said about their apathy Here were a group of Gentiles who were willing to cross a desert, to follow a star, to offer gifts, to offer worship! After conferring with the scribes and Chief Priests, Herod sent them to Bethlehem to search diligently for the child.
Herod pretends that he desires to worship the King of the Jews as well.
The “Wise men” reach the Savior
Vs. 9-12 “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”
God leads these men with this star directly to the home of Jesus. They fell before the King and offered Him - Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. (more on these in a moment)
After the time of worship, God warns these men of Herod’s plan to destroy Jesus, As a result they and the magi depart another way
Vs. 19-23 “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.”
That was just a quick overview of these men; I would like to look at some practical applications for us that are found in their story. As I mentioned earlier, we can learn much form wise men, in fact we can learn a great deal from these “Wise men”:
I. The Wise Men Show Us How to Recognize the Lord – vs. 9-11
There are many people who just don’t recognize God! They see His work all around them, but they give the credit to everything else (Mankind, mother nature, angels, etc.… everything but God) God was trying to show these men something special and they were blessed to observe the Savior first hand. Today God is doing the same thing. He desires that lost man sees His son for who He is …THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD. Notice how the wise men recognized the Lord:
A. They Opened Their Eyes – vs. 9-10 “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
These men had opened their eyes earlier – vs. 2 “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.” - Now the star has appeared to guide them to the Savior.
Isn’t it amazing how God will place visible signs on our path that point to the Savior? You say “I haven’t seen Him yet” …maybe you need to simply open your eyes. The eyes that I speak of are eyes of faith, Friend, OPEN YOUR EYES TODAY! Not only did these Wise men open their eyes:
B. They Opened Their Hearts -vs. 10b-11a “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.”
These men did not only open their eyes, they opened their heart. Surely there were some who saw the star but kept on with their daily lives and simply ignored it! These men opened their hearts to what God was trying to show them.
Many today see God at work and actually DO know that it is God who is working. They just don’t care. There are many who really do believe that Jesus is Savior and the ONLY way to heaven… THEY JUST DON’T CARE! They refuse to open their hearts - Friend, open you eyes and your heart before it is too late!!
We also see that:
C. They Opened Their Treasures – vs. 11b “opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
These men came prepared to find the Lord! They brought their gifts with them…. THEY WERE PREPARED TO MEEET THE KING! They made it to where Jesus was because they followed the direction that God had given them.
If we are to make it to where Jesus is, it is because we have followed the direction given to us by the Holy Spirit of God. There are some treasures that we need to open and present to the Lord today:
Treasure of Love
Treasure of Honor
Treasure of Obedience
Treasure of Devotion
Treasure of Sacrifice
Treasure of Service
But before you can open your treasure you must recognize the Lord…. How do we recognize the Lord? 1. Open Your Eyes 2. Open Your Heart. 3. Open Your Treasures.
Not only do the wise men show us how to recognize the Lord, they show us:
II. The Wise Men Show Us How to Revere the Lord vs. 11b
“and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
A. They showed humility. - “they fell down and worshipped him” There is something that is special about humbling yourself and bowing before the almighty, Holy God! The Bible says much about humbleness:
James 4:6 “But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Proverbs 29:23 “One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”
B. They showed generosity. These men not only humbly bowed, they offered valuable precious gifts. Jesus was worthy to receive these gifts. There is great significance in the specific gifts that were offered:
1. They gave him gold, which represents His deity.
2. They gave him frankincense, which represented His humanity.
3. They gave him myrrh, which represented His future sufferings.
They gave Him “gold, frankincense and myrrh”. All three were costly gifts, yet they willingly gave them to Jesus, It was not just about what they gave, but also how they gave. They gave willingly, humbly, gratefully and it was an act of faith! They showed great reverence for the Lord. So, these men have shown us How to Recognize the Lord and How To Reverence The Lord. Finally, we will see:
III. The Wise Men Show Us How to Rely on The Lord v12
It is believed that these men followed this star for approximately 2 years. What a picture of faith. They followed a light in the sky. They didn’t know how long the journey would be. They didn’t know what they would encounter along the way. They didn’t know exactly what they would find when they reached their destination. Regardless of what the journey held, they followed God. THEY RELYED ON THE LORD!
That is exactly what we must do! WE MUST RELY ON GOD! We are following a God given direction. We don’t know how long the journey will be. We don’t know what we will encounter along the way. We don’t know exactly what we will encounter each day, but we go on because we trust God! How should we rely on God? We see it in the lives of these men:
A. They feared God – vs. 12a “And being warned in a dream not return to Herod.”
God warned them not to return to Herod. These men feared God and obeyed. When we are told that we should fear God that does mean that we are to REVERE HIM. But it is also exactly what it says, we must FEAR GOD!
These men had a reverential fear of God and they obeyed Him as a result. Why did they fear Him? Because they knew that HE WAS REAL!! Why should we fear God? FOR THE EXACT SAME REASON! When you fear God, you will follow God.
B. They obeyed God -12b “they departed to their own country by another way.”
They listened, obeyed and went home another way. We must listen to the direction God has given us. We must follow him! Sometimes when He gives us direction it may not be easy to listen, trust and obey. But we must do like these very wise men did and RELY ON THE LORD!
Application: Will you listen and learn from these wise men today?
1) Will You Recognize the Lord?
2) Will You Revere the Lord?
3) Will You Rely on the Lord?