Saturday, December 15, 2007

An unusual story

Matthew 2:1 – 12

An unusual story

Remember as a child the bedtime stories. They were filled with wonder and awe. Here we have a story that not only passes them in the wonder and awe department, it tells us about the circumstance around the birth of Jesus.


I.         The seekers were unlikely believers. [Magi – “Wisemen”]


            A.        The Jews of Jesus’ time did not take them seriously. (Herod did, but they didn’t.)


                        1.         “Goi” was the Hebrew word for Gentile.


                                    a.         When used it had a subhuman flavor behind it.


                                    b.         The word almost sounds like the Hebrew word for “dog” and was often deliberately mispronounced.


                        2.         Israel did not recognize Gentile’s spiritual rights.


                                    a.         (Ill.) Jonah’s attitude toward Nineveh was on example.


                                    b.         They forgot about Rahab, Ruth, and Caleb.


            B.        Who were the wisemen? (We don’t know for certain.)


                        1.         They may have been a Persian priestly class, who’s work involved interpreting special signs.


                                    a.         These priests were more scholar philosophers influenced by religion than actual priests.


                                    b.         They were known and respected by Greek philosophers.


                        2.         They may have been a variety of councilors to various Eastern kingdoms.


                                    a.         There are stories of high ranking ambassadors traveling from as far away as China during the Roman time.


                                    b.         Europe, Asia, and Africa were in an unprecedented time of peace.


                        3.         They may have been astrologers and interpreter of dreams.


                                    a.         Fairly common for Kings to collect such people (Pharaoh – Joseph, Babylon – Daniel and friends)


                                    b.         We know they were following a star.

***** The seekers were unlikely believers.


II.       The sign demonstrates that God never lacks a means to convey His message.


            A.        The star.


                        1.         The word indicates this was a constellation, something very unusual.


                        2.         Ancient belief that a star heralds the birth of a great King.


                        3.         When Balaam “blessed” Israel, part of that prophecy said: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.” [Numbers 24:17]


            B.        God had a method of communicating to the world.


                        1.         God spoke to His people through prophets (Scripture). God’s people were expected to pass that information on to the Gentiles.


                        2.         Somehow the Magi knew about the start, and the birth of a King.

***** The sign demonstrates that God never lacks a means to convey His message. The believer is the primary means God uses.


III.      The search demonstrates the earthly joy does not satisfy; only joy given by God can satisfy.


            A.        The search was earnest.


                        1.         It involved hardship. This might have been a 4 year trip for them.


                        2.         While there was peace, travel outside the Roman empire was fairly dangerous.


                        3.         There was discouragement. They looked in the wrong place.


                                    a.         Jerusalem was the natural (and human) choice.


                                    b.         Somehow they lost sight of the star...


            B.        The search depended on God’s guidance.


                        1.         They followed, only to go the wrong place.


                        2.         [v 10] “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed”

***** The search demonstrates that joy is found only in God’s guidance.


IV.      The success of the seekers following the star gave them the opportunity to give all they had to God.


            A.        Success was not found were expected.


                        1.         Success is never found were the world expects to find it.


                        2.         Notice they were looking for “King of the Jews” who they found was “King of Kings.”


            B.        The Magi came with treasures for a King.


                        1.         [v 11] “they bowed down and worshiped him.”


                        2.         What they really gave was themselves.


***** The seekers found success. They thought they were looking for a King but found a savior. They gave to Jesus what they held precious and offered to Him what He holds precious (their worship).


1.         What are you seeking?


2.         What is guiding you in the search?


3.         What are you prepared to give, when you find Jesus?

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