by Sheri Schofield
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:1, 2 NASB
As I recently browsed through a home decorating store, I saw the best sign for my entryway: Sometimes I wonder what happens to the people who ask me for directions. I laughed. Perfect!
Following directions can be a tricky thing. I’m sure the wise men from the east thought so as they searched for the newborn King. But the question arises, how did they even know about a coming Jewish king? And how far east of Judah did they live?
Many biblical scholars believe these men were Chaldeans from Babylon since “magi” is the word used. The prophet Daniel, of lion’s den fame, had been the leader of the wise men of Babylon centuries earlier. It seems probable that he told the Chaldeans of the coming King, the Messiah (who was also described in Daniel’s book). Daniel was known to share his faith boldly.
The Chaldeans most likely had access to the Hebrew Scriptures, because much of the writings important to Judah were taken to Babylon when Jerusalem was conquered. In these writings, prophecies told of a coming King.
Magi routinely searched the heavens for signs. When the magi of Matthew 2:1 saw “His star” appear, they loaded treasure onto pack animals and headed for Judea. But they didn’t know which town would be the honored birthplace of the King. So, they went to the capital, Jerusalem, and asked for directions from the current king, Herod.
Herod, so jealous of his throne that he had even had three of his own sons executed, summoned the chief priests and teachers of the law, who knew the prophet Micah had named Bethlehem as the place where the ruler would be born (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6).
Herod sent the magi to Bethlehem and told them, “When you have found Him, report to me, so that I may come and worship Him” (Matthew 2:8 NASB). His intent, however, was not to worship the King, but to kill him.
By the time the magi found the King, Joseph had secured proper housing, though it was probably very simple, for Joseph and Mary were not wealthy. The wise men placed their expensive gifts at the feet of Jesus. Warned by God, they did not return to Jerusalem, but instead headed back to the east by another way (Matthew 2:12).
Joseph, also warned by an angel of God, took Mary and little Jesus to Egypt, far from Herod’s jealous wrath. God’s provision may well have come through that group of wise men who kept their eyes on the prize and followed directions. The magi’s gifts would have helped them to travel and stay in a foreign country, and possibly paid for Jesus’ education when the family returned to Judea.
Has God given you directions to follow? Has he placed on your heart a gift you can lay at Jesus’ feet? Will it take a long time to develop the gift, or will it cost time and money?
The gift you bring is for the King of kings. Do not be discouraged at the setbacks along the way. Keep your eyes on the prize and follow God’s directions. It will be worth it all when you lay your gift at Jesus’ feet.
Well done, good and faithful servant! Matthew 25:21 NIV
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Sheri Schofield, award-winning author and Bible teacher, has added a new way to share faith in Jesus: Her latest book, Before You Find Me, is a contemporary romantic suspense featuring a strong Christian who faces a crisis that tests her courage. Tara, a freshman at West Texas A&M whose parents are dead, learns that her younger sister witnessed a murder. To protect her siblings, she must spirit them out of Texas before the murderer learns there was a witness to his act. Tara has one day in which to act. Can she do it? She remembers a family ranch in Montana…and Ben, the boy next-door, who captured her heart once. Will he still be there? Will he help her protect her family now? This book entertains while it presents godly responses to danger and struggles. Sometimes fiction can draw people closer to God when they will not be drawn by nonfiction. Before You Find Me is available at http://www.sherischofield.com.
Join the conversation. Has God given you directions to follow? How have you responded?