1/3/2018 2:23:29 PM
We called it "light peeping" growing up: driving around and looking at all the neat Christmas displays people put up in their yards.
When you drive around your neighborhood looking at all the Christmas decorations some people put up a manger scene. Mary and Joseph are there with Jesus, the shepherds are looking on and the animals are all around. And most of the time you will see someone else there—the three wise men or the Magi. But actually that’s not historically accurate. As Matthew tells us: After they went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and offered himg gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2: 11) The Magi visited Jesus in a house not the stable. So by the time the Magi arrive in Bethlehem, it’s anywhere from several months to a couple of years after Jesus was born.
The Magi were probably coming from either the area around present-day Baghdad or somewhere in present-day Turkey or Iran. These exotic men from the east come looking for the king of the Jews, saying that a star has announced his arrival. This was probably the talk of the town.
The star itself is shrouded in mystery: was it two planets combining into one in the night sky? A comet? We just don’t know. But somehow the Magi connect this star to the birth of the king of Jews. Studying the stars was their profession; Magi were sort of a combination of an astronomer and astrologer. They knew the night sky well and believed that the location of the stars affected human affairs. They coupled that belief with what they had learned about the Jewish religion. Now, you might be asking, how do they know anything about Jewish religion? Well remember your Bible history! The Jews were sent into captivity twice. The northern tribes were sent to Assyria (Iran and parts of Turkey) and the southern tribes were sent to Babylon (Iraq). While they were there, they still practiced their religion and no doubt left parts of the Old Testament behind. So these Magi probably studied these writings and found passages that referred to the king of the Jews as a star. Prophecies like this one from Numbers 24:17, “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Now, they may not have had a clear picture of exactly who this king would be, but they obviously believed the prophecy and were led by this star to find Jesus.
The point is this: Do you see how God spoke so the Magi could understand? They studied stars, so God sent a star. From this star, God led foreigners to find Christ. So, at the birth of Christ, God is working the events of this world so that the whole world would be led to find Christ.
And here you are, reading this blog. And there are hundreds and thousands of other people who read the Bible left in a hotel room, a Christian magazine left behind on a seat in an airplane. The witness of Christ is still in the world today. God is still guiding the events of this world. And you are his witnesses too!