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MATTHEW CHAPTER 2

 

"THE WISE MEN AND THE STAR"

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:1

 

 

 

MATTHEW 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, 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. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 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. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 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. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 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. 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. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 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. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."

 

 

THERE ARE TEN LESSONS DRAWN FROM THIS TEXT APPEARING BELOW.  JUST SCROLL DOWNWARD TO READ THEM ALL.

 

LESSON 1:  (Saturday, December 18, 2004)

Verse 1 tells us that "wise men" from the east came to see Baby Jesus.

"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."  Matthew 2:1

The Greek noun for "wise men" is "magos."  (From which obviously we get the word "magi.") 

The word is used in the Bible only six times.  Four of those times is in Matthew chapter two (verses 1,7 and twice in verse 16). 

The other two times is in Acts chapter thirteen (verses 6 and 8).  In Acts the word "magos" is translated "sorcerer."  Of course there it has evil connotations.

However, I am told that when one delves into the history of the word, it originally meant a class of men who were literally the wisest and most discerning (in a good sense) in the whole land!  One source tells me that the root of the word is "mag" which an old word for "priest or preacher" in some of the ancient languages. 

By the way, even if they are "magi" in an evil sense (magicians and fortune tellers and astrologers), they have now laid all that aside to come and find Jesus the Saviour!  If so, this is a parallel event to the people burning all their magical books in Acts 19:19 --- "Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver."

But if they are truly wise men in a noble sense, they have surely been searching the Scriptures (particularly the Book of Daniel and the writings of Moses as he told of Balaam's star), which made known the soon coming of the Messiah Jesus!

A "greater than Solomon" was coming and these wise men wanted to see Him!  In Luke 11:31 Jesus said:  "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here."

And, lastly for today, consider these wise men in relation to the shepherds who came to worship Jesus.  One group was poor (the shepherds) ... the other wealthy (the wise men)!  One from near ... the other from far!   One ignorant ... the other well educated! And one comprised of Jews (shepherds) ... the other of Gentiles!  Glory to God!  Already the peoples of the world are being drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ!

And, while we have no idea how many wise men came, traditionally three are imagined.  They have even been named (Melchoir, Gaspar and Balthazar)!  Look at this:  Melchoir is a name drawn from the families of Shem!  Gaspar from the families of Ham!  And Balthazar from the families of Japheth!  (Noah's three sons, the founders of all the nations of earth!)  All the countries of the world already seeking the Child!  (Hey!  Wait until He comes again!)

Glory to God!

Lord willing, more tomorrow!

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2:   (Sunday, December 19, 2004)

I still want to talk with you about the Shepherds and the Wise Men.

Do you remember HOW each group was led to the Lord?

The Shepherds were instructed by angels!  God led them via His Word to Jesus.

The Wise Men were guided by a Star!  God led them by His Creation to Jesus!

There you have it!

The two great Books of God!  They are called Revelation and Creation.

But behind them both is the drawing power of the Holy Spirit!

No one can be "saved" ... apart from the conviction of God's Spirit ... then the power of God's written Word! 

Also in either case above ... "angels" or "a star" ... "The heavens declared the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."  Psalm 19:1

Then note this too.

The Shepherds (Jews) arrived at Jesus' side almost immediately!  While the Wise Men came later (but before the flight to Egypt)!

So ... the Jews first ... then the Gentiles!  In Romans 1:16 Paul gives that very "order."  He declares:  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."  Wow!

Then lastly for today, notice that to the humble Shepherds Jesus is pictured as a lowly Saviour (Who will be a Sacrifice, later called a Lamb)!  But to the scientifically minded Wise Men (who no doubt studied the skies) He is presented as the Star of David!  (And the the Woman at the well Jesus is the Water of Life!  And to David Jesus is The Shepherd!  And to the hungry He is Bread!  To the lost He is The Way! In fact, Christ is exactly what we need!)

Yes, whatever our "need" today ... Christ is the Answer!

Praise the Lord!

                                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3:  (MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2004)

When Jesus was born there was a sign in the heavens!  The Star led the Wise Men to the Child.

When Jesus was crucified there was also a sign in the heavens!  (Or should I say a lack of any sign!)  Total darkness (no stars or moon or planets emitting or reflecting any light)!  Luke 23:44 tells us about it:  "And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

And when Jesus comes again, there will be a sign in the heavens too!  Jesus Himself tells us so in Matthew 24:30 --- "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."  Additionally the Book of Revelation tells us about the Moon appearing as blood and the sun scorching men with great heat and the stars falling from their sockets! 

How fitting that these epochs in the life of Jesus should be so marked with astronomical sings!  For, after all, He IS "the bright and morning star" Himself!  (Revelation 22:16 --- "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.")  And even Balaam, prophesying of the coming Messiah said,  "I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth."  (Numbers 24:17)  Jesus is That Star out of Jacob!

And, when you really think about it, for all eternity we shall live in a celestial city ... one that "... Had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."  (Revelation 21:23)  Then later John adds:  "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."  So there is a heavenly sign (no sun, moon or stars) forevermore declaring the Glory of God even in His eternal and glorified state!

Therefore I say ... our little Bethlehem Star of Matthew 2 is just a harbinger (a fore-runner) of greater things!

Thank about it!

What manner of Man is This ... that even the sun, moon and stars proclaim His in His brightness and Glory!

                                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:  (TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2004)

As you know from studying the Gospel of Matthew, he loves to show how the life and ministry of Jesus is rooted in the Old Testament Scriptures.  His very first verse foreshadows this fact:  "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."  Matthew 1:1

I am wondering now if even the Star we're studying at this time has some Old Testament moorings.

I believe Balaam (not a good man but he sure had a good message) prophesies of such a Star.

Hired to "curse" Israel, Balaam was overruled by God and ended up "blessing" Israel instead!  Listen to just a bit of what He said about Jacob's sons in a future day.  "I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel ...."  Most Bible Preachers and teachers believe this is a reference to the coming Messiah, to Jesus our Lord.  Notice the "star" and the "sceptre."  The star describes His First Coming.  The sceptre describes His Second Coming!

If I am reading this right, Matthew may have told us about the Wise Men because they help highlight this star prophecy from Numbers 24:17. 

Remember that Matthew 2:2 records the wise men as saying:  "We have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."  That sentence closely corresponds to "I shall see Him ...!"  Wow!

And, by the way, the wise men come bearing gifts!  Where did they get that idea?  Is it simply protocol?  Just the politically correct thing to do?  Hardly!  (To a Baby born in a barn and laid in a feed trough?)  WHY the gifts?

Had they perhaps read such things of the coming Messiah as these:  "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts."  (Psalm 72:10 here is speaking of the coming Kingdom days!)  Perhaps the wise men were just getting a "head start!"  Or how about Isaiah 60:6?  "The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD."  Even two of the "gifts" are mentioned by name!

There is SOME divinely inspired reason that Matthew (and only Matthew) includes the account of the Wise Men.

I believe the answer is found in the Jewish Scriptures, the precious errorless inspired (39 Books) Old Testament!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:  (WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2004)

Today we get a little theology lesson from (of all people) wicked King Herod!

He was "troubled" at the news of Jesus' Birth!  The verb means to be agitated or disturbed.  Who could be bothered by the coming of Light?  Just darkness!  Who would worry at the birth of Truth personified?  Only falsehood!  Who would belittle the arrival of Peace?  Mr. Hatred! 

We're told the whole city (Jerusalem) was troubled along with the king!  Jesus, even as a Baby, did not bring harmony to the world of sin and rebellion and lust!  The greatest battle of the ages had just increased in intensity!

But watch what Herod says.

The first question asked to the Monarch by the Wise Men was this:  "Where is He That is born King of the Jews?"

Then immediately Herod has a conclave with his top advisers and calls Jesus "Christ!"

So it is apparent that in the King's mind the "Christ" Child would also be the King of the Jews!

He equated Christ the Lord with His coming reign as King of Israel!

He did better than some preachers I've met through the years!

They will call Jesus LORD ... but will not admit to His coming some day to sit on the Throne of David to rule and reign for a thousand glorious years as King of the Jews!

Don't mimic Herod in any other way ... but on this one point of doctrine he has excelled!

The Lord Jesus Christ some day will literally occupy the Throne of David.  After all, He is the great (and perfect) Prophet ... Priest ... and KING!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6:  (THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2004)

And where was Jesus born?

"There came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"  Matthew 2:1-2

He is born in Bethlehem!

And even the name of His birth city was foretold 500 years before the actual Birth! This was done by Micah the Old Testament prophet!  "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."  Micah 5:2

The name Bethlehem means "House of Bread!"

Isn't that interesting?

Jesus is to come to earth (via the womb of a Virgin named Mary) to the little town of Bethlehem, the House of Bread!

He, Who IS the Bread of Life, was born in the city of bread!  Four times in John chapter 6 (verses 35 and 41 and 48 and 51) Jesus calls Himself the Bread!  For example:  "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

And the name Micah associates with Bethlehem is "Ephratah."  It means "fruitful" according to most sources.   But one lexicon says the word denotes an "ash-heap!" That's a place where all the fuel (wood or whatever) has been spent to produce light or heat or energy!  I am wondering if this name could be a foreshadowing of the Cross on Which this darling little baby (The Son Of God) will some day die?  If so, we have the Cross embedded within the Cradle here!

Well, here's some good news!  Jesus, Who was born in a land that means "fruitful," sure lived up to that name!  In Jeremiah 33:15 Jesus is called "The Branch!"  (What a Fruitful Branch He is!) See for yourself:  "In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land."    Amen!

A little village ... a GREAT Saviour!

What more needs to be said?

Praise the Lord!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:   (FRIDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2004)

Notice that the Wise Men, upon arriving where Jesus was, "worshipped" Him!

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him."  Matthew 2:11

Now if we are going to accept this word and its meaning literally, we must believe there is substance to their adoration of the Saviour!

The Greek word used here for "worship" is interesting.  It is spelled:  "proskuneo."  It is derived from the Greek word they used to express a "kiss."  To worship Jesus is "love" Him!  To throw Him kisses of respect and reverence!

But, get this also.

The "heart" of the word for worship is "kuon," which is their word for a little "doggie!" Not a wild flea bitten old scavenger ... but a little clean house dog!  (The Greeks and Romans both had these.  Not the Jews!)

How can a word for "worship" come from the word for "kiss" and then from the word for "doggie?"

It's a metaphor.  It's a "word picture."  It's a beautiful figure of speech! 

Anyone who has a little pet dog knows what I mean. 

Remember how excited little doggie (or big doggie too) is to see you when you return from shopping or somewhere?

How he jumps and jumps!

And wants to be near you!

And, if you'll let him, will lick and kiss and love you as best he can!

That's this word for "worship!"

It means to love Jesus so that one gets excited about it!

To love Him enough to "kiss" Him!

In case someone is repulsed by this attitude, better read Psalm 2 again!  Especially the last verse --- "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."  Psalm 2:12  (That "Son" is the Son of God!)

The Wise Men worshipped Him that "first" Christmas!

So should we today (and every day!)

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8:  (SATURDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2004)

Today notice with me the gifts given our Lord by these Wise Men.

"And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."  Matthew 2:11

The noun "treasures" is (inGreek) "thesauros."  It's our English word "thesaurus!"  (A book which most preachers have and use!)  It means a chest for storing valuables!  A storehouse, a coffer, a casket, a repository or even a magazine (in its old sense).  As you can see the word is plural.

The verb "presented" is "prosphero" and means to bear or to carry forward (into one's presence or before one's face). 

When one comes into the Presence of the Lord ... it is customary to bring a gift!  Psalm 96:8 pretty well says it best:  "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts."  Yes!  And that's exactly what these Wise Men did!  (And it's what we should do every week at church too!)

Not a gift to buy God's Grace.  It is not for sale.  But a gift motivated by our Love for Him!

Nearly every time you see someone in Scripture approach a King ... he or she is bearing gifts!

Now let's look at their "gifts."

They brought gold.  It is the metal the ancients associated with Deity.  (In some cultures gold was so holy that it was illegal to coin it and spend it as currency!) 

The Holy of Holies (the most sacred place in the Tabernacle and indicative of the very Abode of God) was fitted with furniture of pure solid gold or heavily overlaid with gold!  God and gold are Biblically connected.  Think of the street of the heavenly city!  "And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass."  Revelation 21:21

Next they brought frankincense.  ("libanos")  This was the most excellent of all fragrances to the ancient cultures.  It was a gum that exuded from the cut side of a special tree!  This substance is usually associated with Arabia.  See 1st Kings 10:15. It is primarily used as a sweet-smelling incense during times of worship.  All the priests knew about it.

Then they brought myrrh.  Here's how it's spelled in Greek:  smurna!  (Remember the church at Smyrna, the suffering church?)  It was part of the Holy Anointing Oil! See Exodus 30:23.  Does it foreshadow Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed of God?  I believe so.  Again, it is associated with Arabia.  And ... as you know ... it was chiefly used for embalming the dead.  I am sure it prefigures Jesus' sacrificial Death on Calvary!

(All three of these items are linked to Arabia in one way or another.  This has led some to believe that these Wise Men were of Ishmael's family!  If so, what a picture that makes.  Especially in today's political climate!  Either way, some day the sons of Ishmael and Isaac, as well as the lion and the lamb, shall peacefully sit at the Throne of the darling Lord Jesus, the Son of God!)

Lastly, notice this. 

The gold speaks of a King!

The frankincense speaks of a Priest!

And the myrrh (some day dying a substitutionary death) speaks of a Prophet!

The King owns lots of gold.

The Priest works with incense daily.

And the Prophet foretells the future according to God's standard!

Yes!  Prophet, Priest and King --- the three "offices" whose occupants were "anointed with oil" in ancient Israel!  And in Jesus the three are combined into One!  One Holy Perfect One!

Appropriate gifts, I'd say!

Oh, let us also worship HIM today!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9:  (SUNDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2004)

Finally, it happens!

The Goal is reached!

There He is!

The Babe is born, the very Son of God!

Matthew 2:11 says ... "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child."

They "saw" Him!

Their faith became sight!

A bunch of Gentiles, led by God's Hand, see ... then fall in adoration ... at the Feet of the Saviour!

It is a picture of salvation itself!

Most today who read these words will be old Gentiles!  We too have been led of God to the Saviour's feet!  Led by His Hand (not by a star ... but maybe by a preacher) to the place of (by grace through faith) acceptance of Him as personal Redeemer and Lord of our lives.

And then some day we too shall SEE Him in all of His Glory!  Not as a Babe in a manger ... but as a conquering ruling King!

Our thought today is a picture of the future!

Some day yet ahead the Kings of the earth will fall before His feet once more!  (Every king!  Every knee!  Every tongue!)  They shall see Him ... some in fear, others in delight ... some to hear "depart" ... others to hear "enter" ... but SEE Him nonetheless!  (Matthew 25)

Therefore Matthew 2:1-11 is not just history!  It is a preview of Bible prophecy too!

Thank God, one day I was drawn by the Spirit of God and came to Jesus and believed.  I too have fallen at His feet and worshipped!  I have tried to give Him my gifts (simple as they are) as well! 

But ... too ... some day (and maybe soon) I shall SEE Him Face to Face!

Praise His Name!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10:  (MONDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2004)

Now it's time for the men to leave.

They have found Jesus, seen Him, worshipped Him, presented Him gifts then...

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

I have used these Wise Men as a picture of lost Gentiles coming to Jesus (really being drawn to Him)!

After their salvation experience, they leave to return home! 

As they go, I see three things that have happened since they fell on their knees before the Lord Jesus Christ.

First they are now communicating with God!  They no longer have to ask questions of others!  God spoke to them ... telling them to return using another route! (To avoid King Herod!)

I hope you agree.  One will not be saved long until the Holy Spirit begins to lead him and give him discernment and commune with him!  That's a good sign of genuine saving grace!

Next I see them obey the Lord!  If you're truly born-again, you WILL do what He says!  They used the route the Lord demanded!

Lastly they (in obeying this commandment) began a life of defending the Faith they had just learned to love!  They refused to subject their Saviour to the vile hands of a heathen King!  True Christians behave that way!

They seek to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."  Jude 3

Wow!  They are already bring forth "fruit" that evidences true salvation!

It always happens that way when faith is not in vain!

                                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

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