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The New King

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Happy New Year

New Beginning

Matthew 2:1–2 NIV
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Background:

Mary, Joseph and Jesus

A year or two later. Mary and Joseph have found a home in Bethlehem. I have always found strange. They stayed after his birth. Maybe they did not want to travel with a baby. Maybe Joseph found a better opportunity. All part of God’s plan.

Herod the Great

Most likely all of this occurred between 6 & 4 BC. Herod the Great died in 4 BC. Herod was a Jew of Iudamaen descent. He was from Edom and from the bloodline of Esau. Herod through his father rose to power, ultimately being named “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate. He rebuilt the Temple, along with many other great things. But he was terribly jealous and paranoid. He had many of his sons, wives and friends killed so they would not take his throne. So, when he orders the death of the babies it should not be a surprise, but he taxed the people severely and they did not like him very much.

Magi

Wisemen, astrologers, astronomers. Most likely Persian or Babylonian. They most likely traveled for many months as long as two years. God only knows how many came, but we can assume they traveled with a large entourage of servants and protectors.

Star

At those times it was believed by many, when a new star appeared a new king was born. So, they went to see the new king. Some believe the star to be the “star” we just saw when Jupiter and Saturn aligned. Some say a comet, or some other natural occurring event. It may have been, but it sure seems supernatural, in that it lasted for 2 years, and "went ahead of them” when they left for Bethlehem in verse 9.
Some scholars believe the magi were following a prophecy by Balaam in Numbers 24:17.
Numbers 24:17 NIV
“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 people of Sheth.
Balaam was from the same area as they were, but hundreds of years before. Balaam was a prophet hired by a Moab king to curse Israel, but Balaam could not do it. You may remember a donkey spoke to him. Great story you should check it out.
Some believe they received the prophesy from Daniel during the exile.
Daniel 9:25–26 NIV
“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.
This then goes into a much more detailed prophesy most likely about end times. It is possible that either one, both or neither had an effect on them coming, but it is interesting that their were these two links.

Magi

Regardless this group of magi from the east came to Jerusalem following a star. They (gentiles) were aware the true king of the Jews had been born and came to worship him. While on the other hand, the religious and political leaders of the Jews were not aware.
As far as we know, they never even noticed the star. I have always thought that was crazy. They never saw the star. They were supposed to be constantly looking for the Messiah. They knew the scriptures better than anyone, but they never saw the star.
Matthew 2:3–6 NIV
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Bethlehem

King Herod was disturbed. This word means more than that it deeply troubled. Mix that with jealousy and paranoia you know it isn’t going to be good.
The chief priests knew exactly where the Messiah was to be born. It doesn’t seem to take them any research they just throw it out there. I always imagined they were a little smug. “ of course he will be born in Bethlehem, in fact, I will quote you a scripture to prove it.”
But they were right. Micah 5: 2, 4 and 2 Samuel 5:2 point to Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah. Interestingly, Matthew more paraphrases here than quotes the scripture directly. So, when you go back and look at these verses you will find them not exactly the same.
Matthew 2:7–8 NIV
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

Herod the deceiver

These two verses sum up Herod perfectly. Secret meetings, backroom schemes, lies, and using religion for power. He had no intent to worship the king of the Jews, he wanted to destroy him. He believed enough trust the prophesies about the birth of the Messiah, but he was so arrogant, he thought he could change God’s plan.
He convinced the Magi, to find the baby so he could “worship” him too. Why wouldn’t the Magi believe him, after all they were there to worship of course the true believers, the Jews, would want to worship him. BUT HE WAS a liar.
But they were not. They truly came to worship the king of the Jews.
Matthew 2:9–11 NIV
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

True Worship

Much like the Shepherds in the field when they found everything just as the angel had said, the Magi were overjoyed when they found the star had led them to Jesus.
They showered him with gifts and bowed in worship to him a stark contrast to the humble, poor shepherds from Luke’s gospel. But still true worship and adoration.
Could you imagine what the neighbors had to be thinking? What the heck is going on here? Aren’t we in Bethlehem? Isn’t that the house of Joseph, the new carpenter? What is with the entourage?
I was always wonder, Shouldn’t Herod have been able to figure that out. Just ask around for where the entourage went, but I think he was so sure of himself and so prideful he thought the Magi were going to serve the baby up to him.
But boy was he wrong because God had a bigger plan and these Magi here were for a purpose.

Gifts for a king

SO the gifts. Gold, frankincense and Myrrh. These would have been the normal gifts brought to someone of importance especially from people in Babylon. Gold was gold then as it is now, but even rarer.
Frankincense was a very expensive form of incense.
And Myrrh was a spice used for all sorts of things, all of them special. But one interesting use was burial. It was put on the bodies of dead people to honor them. This has led many to believe this was a foreshadowing of Jesus’s death. To be honest, i don’t really know.
What I do know, is these were gifts fit for a king. They also had great value and were easily used for trading. So, it was common for the wealthy to travel with them to buy and sell things.
Interestingly, they would have come in handy for Joseph and Mary when they were traveling to Egypt after Jospeh was told to leave. God’s plan. So intricate, so detailed, so perfect.
But the most important part of this whole story is that these magi from the east came to worship Jesus. This is such a huge deal. It is More of the imagery most people would have for the birth of the Messiah. A king’s birth.

God’s Son, Jesus

It shows the supernatural way God was going to show the world his son. It also because they are gentiles, shows that Jesus came not just for the Jews, but for all people. Rich (Magi) to Poor (Shepherds). All people.
Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the garden, to Abraham, to Balaam as the Israelites moved into the promised land, by Daniel, and most of the other prophets.
There was something special about this baby. He is the King of the Jews. The root of Jesse that will reign forever.
If Mary pondered all the things of Luke chapter 2 in her heart, I bet she enjoyed this and held it close as well, but this great moment wouldn’t last.
Matthew 2:12–16 NIV
And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

God’s Great Plan

So the Magi again more in tune with God than the leaders of the Jews listen to God and went another way.
Joseph had another dream and took his family to Egypt. which made another Messianic prophesy come true. Hosea 11:1
Herod was tricked, and tried again to change the plans of God. He ordered the murder of all boys in and around Bethlehem, but God protected his anointed one.
So, God’s plan kept moving forward. His plan to save the world through a baby born a king in Bethlehem. A baby born to save the world. Immanuel, God with us.
I pray as we move into 2021. We can trust the plan of God. We may not know all the details, but we do know he is king. He is our savior. We know that he is with us. You see all of those are at the end of Matthew’s story.
Matthew 28:18–20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

GO

That message has not changed. The Messiah is with us. Our mission has not changed. God’s plan is clear. Go and make disciples. Baptize them, Teach them because Jesus is with us.
Go whether it is next door or to a far land. Whether it is by a card, an email or in person. Go, and worship the king. and tell others as well. all people. GO
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