7595 - Honor Before Egypt


Today let’s consider some unlikely visitors who bring unusual gifts for a baby.

We are now engaged in a study of the book of Luke. We find that Luke omits some scenes included by other authors, but that’s true of each writer. Because Luke omits the account of the visit of the wise-men, we turn to Matthew 2 today. I will read verses from the chapter and then we can comment:

When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

We notice in those first verses that the place of the birth of Christ the Messiah was a known fact among the priests and teachers in Jerusalem. God used a Roman census to get Mary and Joseph to leave their home in Nazareth and come to the city of David, which was Bethlehem, at just this time so that this prophecy could be fulfilled. We will see in Scripture that during the ministry of Jesus this truth has been overlooked or forgotten, since many of the leaders insisted Jesus could not be the Messiah because they believed he was from Nazareth. It was God who arranged for each prophecy to be perfectly fulfilled.

The travel of the wisemen to the house where Jesus lived brought further revelation of God’s hand in the life of this child.

The star seen by the wise men previously in their travel, now went ahead of them until it stopped over the dwelling of Jesus.

All attempts to explain the star as a natural phenomenon are inadequate to account for its movement to lead the wisemen from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and then to stand over the house. We choose to believe it and are not required to explain it.

Notice three facts in this passage which conflict with the traditional story. First, the wise men came to a house. This was not the place described at birth. This family is in a different residence.

Secondly, they did not see a newborn baby, but they bowed down and worshipped a child. Based upon Herod’s later action to wipe out every boy in the vicinity who was age two or under, these wise men found a child about that age – around two.

Thirdly, notice there is no mention of how many wisemen came to worship the child Jesus. Those who did treated Him with great honor as they bowed and worshipped.

God thwarted Herod’s hope of killing Jesus by warning the wisemen to return to their country by another route.

We again see God’s protective shield over Jesus when an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream with instructions to take the child and escape to Egypt. Joseph quickly obeyed. He awakened his family and left for Egypt during the night.

This family was again visited by an angel in Egypt when Herod died, and told them to return to the land of Israel. Again in a dream, Joseph was told to go to Galilee, so they went to Nazareth where they had resided prior to marriage.