Wednesday, December 24, 2008

There Came Wise Men

Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Suddenly, unexpectedly there was with the one angel a great number, an army of angels singing praises to God.
Glory, honor and praise to the most high God, and on earth peace, inward peace that comes from the presence of a loving God, and God's good will and grace resting on human beings. Heavens angels came down, not in the big city, not to the temple for the priests, not to Caesar or to kings, but to lowly shepherds. Jesus would be called the good shepherd and also the (sacrificial) lamb of God. He was the way and the means of our forgiveness and our salvation. Shall we join the angels in shouting praises to God? Glory to God in heaven, Emanuel, His Son is with us.

Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The shepherds believed the angels and they wanted to see the babe for themselves. Out of all people, these lowly shepherds were given the message first. The humble receive first from the things of God.

Luke 2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
Luke 2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

These were the first men to preach the good news.

Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Luke 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Mary kept all these things, and thought about them in her mind. What am I to do as a mother of this child from God? Perhaps remembering Hannah, who dedicated her son to the LORD.

Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The Shepherds returned from abroad, the first missionary evangelists. The returned to tending their sheep. We have a message to proclaim to all the world: Jesus Christ is come to take away the sins of those who will receive him. We continue to work but with new purpose and meaning in our hearts.
Did everyone believe? Probably not, but they planted a seed of truth in many peoples minds. The shepherds had nothing to lose. King Herod would hear from the wise men and seek to kill Jesus because he was said to be a king. The Chief priests would hear from the testimony of Jesus and seek to kill him from envy. Satan was king of the world, he would use the powers of men's authority to kill Jesus. The Shepherds only tended sheep, they were glad to hear the message and to share it. How about you?

Luke 2:21 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.

Jesus, savior, just as John before him, the angel Gabriel told them the name given by God. Jesus being a Hebrew child under their laws, even kept the law as a baby. Thank God for obedient parents who do as God requires.

Luke 2:22 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;

Purification or cleansing, was a ceremony to remove sins, yes even babies are born with sins. Jesus identified with sinners, in this ritual, in baptism and on the cross. Yet, he had no sins.

Luke 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
Luke 2:24 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.

Both the baby and the woman were to cleansed by an offering of sacrifice, The customary offering was a lamb. If they were poor, the offering could be two turtle doves or two pigeons.

Lev 12:7 Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
Lev 12:8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Note, that the wise men had not yet come with gold for them. They were poor, offering two pigeons, or two doves, but the Father above would provide for them. The wise men would bring them valuable gifts.

Luke 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Luke 2:26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

An elderly gentleman of faith. He was devout, he worshipped God and believed the scriptures, that spoke of the consolation; the word used for the Comforter, the Spirit of God, of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him. He was a Spirit filled man full of faith, expecting to see the messiah before his death.

Luke 2:27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Luke 2:28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Luke 2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

Being full of the Spirit, the Spirit of truth led him to the temple when Jesus was brought in. He took the child in his arms, no doubt with eyes filled with tears. He is the one he was waiting to see. He blessed Jesus and God blessed him with a fulfillment of a promise; now he could die in peace.

Luke 2:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Luke 2:31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
Luke 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Simeon had seen the light of the world. Perhaps in remembrance of Isaiahs prophecy seven hundred years earlier;

Isa 60:1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
Isa 60:2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
Isa 60:3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Jesus himself as a man would speak these words;

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

The fall and rising again of many in Israel;

John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
John 12:33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Jesus himself would fall under the persecution of those in power and be lifted up on the cross. He would be buried and resurrected again. To come to him we must fall down and repent of sins and he will lift us up to receive new life. We receive him and we go up with him to heaven. For those who reject him, they are cast down into hell after they die. Now is the time to receive Jesus, humble yourself, put off the sinful life and put on Jesus. He is the power to rise above the worlds ways into eternal life.

Luke 2:35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Jesus brought the two edged sword, it would divide truth from darkness, and bring the Spirit of discernment.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The light and the truth came through Jesus; the way to heaven and life eternal.

Luke 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

A prophetess, one who hears from God and speaks his word. This is one hearing from God, not a psychic or seer. The psychic is of the dark spirits of satan. One should never listen to a psychic, but a prophet of God we are not to despise.

1 Th 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.

Luke 2:37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Luke 2:38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

She came to the baby Jesus as Simeon was blessing and prophesying of him and she joined in, confirming by two godly witnesses that this was indeed the one sent who would save Israel. Anna was witnessing of Jesus to all those who were looking for redemption in Israel.

Matthew Continues the story:

Mat 2:1 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,

Tradition has it that they were three kings, but they were astronomers and probably more then three. They brought three gifts to Jesus.

Mat 2:2 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.

All the world had heard the prophecy that a king would be born from the lineage of David. Probably Daniel the prophet had informed the wise men in Persia at the time that Israel was held captive. The wise men knew what they were looking for and were looking for a sign. They came to worship the Messiah. They were following a star, as the children of Israel followed the glory fire coming out from Egypt to the promised land.

Mat 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

The people had no idea that a king had come. Herod was troubled and filled with jealousy and fear. Perhaps the people knew of Herod's ways and feared for what would be coming. Herod was a ruthless cruel king even killing members of his own family.

Mat 2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
Mat 2:5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
Mat 2:6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
A ruler is born in Bethlehem who came from old, from everlasting. The everlasting king of the Jews is born in Bethlehem.

Mat 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
Mat 2:8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

Herod sends the wise men to Bethlehem to inform him when the Messiah is found. The lying King said that he would worship him too, but the devil was in him. He would try to destroy the Messiah. Satan opposed Jesus from the start and will oppose his servants today and until he is judged by Jesus, the Christ, at the end time.

Mat 2:9 When they had 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.

I think the star may have been an angel of light.

Mat 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

True worshippers rejoice at the presence of the Lord. The scribes and pharisees and the people that the Messiah came to bless, were uninterested and at the most frightened. How will you feel at the presence of our Lord?

Mat 2:11 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.

The baby no longer was in the stable. This meeting occurred sometime afterwards, for they were living in a house, but still in Bethlehem. It was a temporary home for them as they had originally come from Nazareth. They gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold was a gift to King Jesus. Frankincense a sweet smelling fragrance for the great high priest, (Exo 30:34-37) who would offer himself a sacrifice, being the atonement for our sins. Jesus is our great high priest . Myrrh was a spice for his burial. They wrapped the body with white linen, using aloe and Myrrh, as spices. (John 19:39-40)

Mat 2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

They were following God and hearing him in a dream. They were believers connected by the spirit of God to God the Father. They obeyed the Father and not the wicked king. They went home another way, not giving any information to the King.

Mat 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

The angel of the Lord comes to Joseph in a dream, apparently soon after the wise men departed with a warning and a command from God. Arise now, take the baby and Mary and flee into Egypt. Joseph had heard from the Lord before and believed. The just shall live by faith obeying God. There was no need to question, we are to obey. God sees the future and He is our guide.

He was told to stay until he heard again from God. How many of us let God direct our paths? Do we go as the Spirit leads us and do we stay until He says to move again? This requires a closeness to God, to be able to know his will. God wanted to be sure Joseph understood, because Jesus was in danger from Herod. " Herod will seek the young child to destroy him."

Mat 2:14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
Mat 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Mat 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

Herod was so mad with jealousy, that he would kill his potential rival, to be sure of this, he had all the children under 2 years old killed who were in the region of Bethlehem. Another prophecy is fulfilled.

Mat 2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
Mat 2:18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Jer 31:15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Rachel had been buried in Bethlehem.

Mat 2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
Mat 2:20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

All is clear, come home again. Satan seeks to steal and kill and to destroy but we have the Lord protecting us. Who satan has divided and scattered, the Lord will bring back home. Blessed are those who trust in the Lord.

Prov 10:28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.
Prov 10:29 The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
Prov 10:30 The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.

Mat 2:21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

The angel having told Joseph to return to his home, because Herod was dead. Historians have said that when Herod was near death that he ordered the most prominent leaders in Israel to be held. When Herod died, they were to be put to death. No one would mourn Herod's death, but there would be tears shed over the death of these beloved people.

Mat 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

Archelaus was ruthless like his father Herod. Because of this Joseph being warned in a dream, did not return to Bethlehem.

Mat 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Luke 2:39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

Nazareth comes from the Hebrew word "netzer" meaning "branch" or "sprout." It is used figuratively for that which is lowly or despised. The Messiah was lowly and despised by the world who knew him not.

Later, Jesus would gather followers, who questioned about him coming from Nazareth;

John 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
John 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Those who opposed Jesus would mention that he came from Nazareth. They knew him not as God's son. Yet, the demons knew who he was.

Luke 4:33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,
Luke 4:34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah from heaven, our savior, our hope and our peace.

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