Thursday, December 23, 2010

Who Is Wise?


The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
Psalm 11:10



Who were they, the sojourners from afar that we call "wise" even today?

We assume that there were three wise men because of the three gifts that were given: gold, incense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). However, the Bible does not say there were only three wise men. There could have been many more. Tradition says that there were three and that their names were Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, but since the Bible does not say, we have no way of knowing whether the tradition is accurate.

It is a common misconception that the wise men visited Jesus at the stable on the night of His birth. In fact, the wise men came days, months, or possibly even years later. That is why Matthew 2:11 says the wise men visited and worshiped Jesus in a house, not at the stable.

We know that the magi were wise men from "the East," most likely Persia, or modern-day Iran. This means the wise men traveled 800 to 900 miles to see the Christ child. Most likely, the magi knew of the writings of the prophet Daniel, who in time past had been the chief of the court seers in Persia. Daniel 9:24-27 includes a prophecy which gives a timeline for the birth of the Messiah. Also, the magi may have been aware of the prophecy of Balaam (who was from the town of Pethor on the Euphrates River near Persia) in Numbers 24:17. Balaam's prophecy specifically mentions a “star coming out of Jacob.”

The wise men were guided to look for the King of the Jews by a miraculous stellar event, the "Star of Bethlehem," which they called "His star" (Matthew 2:2). They consulted with King Herod in Jerusalem concerning the birth of Christ and were so directed to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:4-8). They followed God's guidance joyfully (Matthew 2:10). Their gifts for Jesus were costly, and they worshiped Him. God warned them in a dream against returning to Herod, so, in defiance of the king, they left Judea by another route (Matthew 2:12).

So, the magi were men who

1) read and believed God's Word,

2) sought Jesus,

3) recognized the worth of Christ,

4) humbled themselves to worship Jesus, and

5) obeyed God rather than man.


“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. ... “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
Matthew 7:21, 24-25

Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let them show it by their good life,
by deeds done in the humility
that comes from wisdom.
James 3:13

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10


Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise.
Seek what they sought.
~ Matsuo Basho


Sources:
Wise Men / Got Questions
Photos / Google

9 comments:

Debbie said...

Kathleen, this is what the pastor taught this past Sunday at church. That manger scene that we picture with the three wise men isn't quite what it really was.

But you're so right. The magi read His Word, they knew about the prophecy and waited expectantly.

May we be diligent about being in the Word and believing it. I want to be waiting expectantly for His return but in the meantime, to be open to allow Him to work in me and through me.

Merry Christmas my friend. May you have a wonderful time of being with your family this year.

Love you,
Debbie

Rebecca said...

It's really good to revisit these facts and the truths you linked with the "wise men"....

An old cantata that I sang in had a song entitled "Wise Men Still Seek Him" The words and tunes are going through my head as I type!

Merry Christmas, Sassy! Looking forward to another year of learning and friendship and very POSSIBLY the Lord's Return!

myletterstoemily said...

thank you for such an inspiring devotion
this morning. my motor is revving, but
i need to be still a few moments and
remember who i am and who HE is.

merry Christmas,
lea

Saleslady371 said...

A great list from the wise men and one I hope to form my future with. Merry Christmas, dear Kathleen. Wishing you a great year ahead.

Christmas hugs,
Mary

Tammy@If Meadows Speak... said...

I was speechless when I first came by here. Nothing's changed. I'm blow away by the last 2 scriptures and the last saying by Basho. Still absorbing and aweing over this birth, this Man, these words. Merry Christmas your first year back, from your long "hiatus" from Washington. :)

Loren said...

Kathleen,

There are soooo many Words on Wisdom! Clearly, the Lord desires for us to be Wise in HIS ways! So thankful we have these examples and then Wise men who can share these things with us today! What an amazing devotional for sure! Isn't it funny how we make things out to be, yet they aren't that way at all! Don't you know the Lord just smiles and shakes HIS head LOL

I pray I am Wise and pleasing to the Lord and HIS ways in all I do!

May you and yours have a blessed and Very Merry Christmas! I am sooo very thankful for the gift of YOU and Your friendship!

I love you!

RCUBEs said...

"His ways are higher than ours...His thoughts are higher than ours!" Glory be to our good Lord! Merry Christmas to you wise sister and what a blessing to have met you this past year and my faith encouraged by yours. Love and blessings.

Rita said...

Oh that we are as wise as those wise men who sought the Lord to worship Him. I have so enjoyed your posts this past year and look forward to more in the coming year. I too believe the things you have mentioned in this post. Merry Christmas!

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Merry Christmas, Kathleen!!

Doris