Matthew 2

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Worship to the King

Matthew 2:1–12 ESV
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Now - continuation of the story of Jesus birth.
When was Christ born?
During the days of Herod the king.
Who were the wise men (Gr. Magi)?
Their exact identity is unknown, however it is noted they came from the east.
What question did the wise men (Magi) have for King Herod?
“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
How do you think they knew who this King of the Jews was?
We shouldn’t forget these men were highly educated and known for their study of the stars. It also would appear they knew the religious prophecies that had been made. If we go back to Daniel, he would have been the first to introduce these wise men to the Holy Scriptures and they (at that time) would have witnessed God’s gift given to Daniel through prophecy and the fulfilment of prophecy.
It’s believed these wise men studied the Hebrew Scriptures, and as a result would have known the reference to the Messiah’s birth and the signs that would accompany. Furthermore, they received a sign from God, a new star that appeared, and they followed.
Should the reaction from Herod a surprise?
What kind of reaction would you think the King would have when hearing there was a King of the Jews that had just been born?
Zondervan Academic answered the question “who was Herod”, in which they explain this was Herod the Great, ruler of Judea during Jesus’ life and ministry. He ruled as king of the Jews under Roman authority for 33 years (37-4 BC). He is known as a “politicians politician”, as he played whomever had power and showed allegiance to them. When civil war broke out in Rome between Mark Antony and Octavian, Herod first sided with Antony and his ally Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt. Then, when Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra at Actium in 31 BC, Herod immediately switched sides, convincing Octavian of his loyalty.
Herod was distrustful, jealous, brutal, and was never accepted by the Jews as their legitimate king. He constantly feared conspiracy, executing his wife we he suspected she was plotting against him. He would go on to execute three of his sons, another wife, and a mother-in-law for conspiracy.
So, when he heard of the “king of the Jews” who had been born, it triggered all his insecurities.
He asked them where this child was supposed to be born, and the Magi quoted scripture from the prophet Micah: Micah 5:2 “2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”
How do you think Herod used the Magi to gain information?
Go, search for the child, and when you find him, let me know where he is.
Herod was using a semi-sincere story as his stated purpose was to worship him also.
The star continued to guide them until it came over the area where Jesus was. Notice it says he was a “child”, translated as a “young child”, or in some translations a half-grown boy or girl. We see a picture of not a baby, but of a child with some age.
When did the wise men (Magi) visit?
The answer is in verse 16, it was up to 2 years since His birth.
What did they do when they found Jesus?
They fell down and worshiped him, opening their treasures of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Gold - symbol of earthly kingship.
Frankincense (incense) - symbol of deity.
Myrrh (embalming oil) - symbol of death.
What warning did they receive?
God allowed them to be warned through a dream to not return to Herod. So, they went home another route.

Warning Heeded

Matthew 2:13–15 ESV
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
When the Magi had left, scripture says an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you.”
What was the purpose of fleeing to Egypt?
Herod, who told the Magi he wanted to know where Jesus was so he could worship him plotted to kill him instead.
Listening to the angel, Joseph apparently immediately got up, took Jesus and Mary and, by night, departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod.
The birth of Christ is assumed to be between 6 and 4 BC, and we see that Herod died in 4 BC, so it could have been months, up to 2 years that they were in Egypt. Regardless of the amount of time, another prophecy was being fulfilled.
Hosea 11:1 ESV
1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

Herod Kills the Children

Matthew 2:16–18 ESV
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
It did not take long for Herod to know he had been tricked, and he passed an order to kill all male children in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas 2 years of age of less, fulfilling another prophecy.
Jeremiah 31:15 ESV
15 Thus says the Lord: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

Return to Nazareth

Matthew 2:19–23 ESV
19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Another angel appeared to Joseph in a dream when Herod died, letting him know it was safe to take Jesus and Mary back into Israel. When Joseph gathered them he heard that Herod’s son was reigning in Judea, so they went to a city called Nazareth within Galilee. Here Matthew mentions another prophecy fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene - but no such prophecy exists in the Old Testament. There are a few possible explanations:
The New American Commentary says “He may be indicating that he is not quoting one specific text but summarizing a broader scriptural theme. What might this theme be? A common suggestion links Nazareth with the Hebrew nezer, which means branch and signifies a king from David’s line (cf. e.g., Isa 11:1). Matthew would then be making a typical Hebrew play on words because “Nazareth” itself does not derive from nezer.
The second possibility, proposed at least as long ago as the days of Jerome (fourth century), is that “Nazarene” was a slang or idiomatic term for an individual from a very remote or obscure place (much like our contemporary words hick or backwoodsman). This interpretation would fit well with the attitude toward Nazareth reflected in John 1:46 “46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”” and is perhaps to be preferred in light of the context of Matt 2. Matthew has pointed out the originally insignificant town in which Jesus was born, the ignominy (shame) of his flight to Egypt, and the grief of death surrounding his infancy. It would be appropriate if a reference to the obscure and despised city of his childhood appeared here. Old Testament precedent for the Messiah’s obscurity culminates in Isa 52–53.
A third explanation links “Nazarene” and “Nazirite.” But Jesus was not a Nazirite, and the orthographical evidence for this linkage is lacking.”
Take away points:
Attention, even what may be unwanted, can bring the threat of danger or downfall.
Not everyone who says “I want to worship Jesus” is really a Christian.
Listening to God will always result in His protection, even if it means taking us away from our comfort of home.
Sometimes God will move us for His glory, or for our growth.
Sometimes bad things will happen, simply because this world is sinful and we pay the price for bad decisions made way before our time.
God will deliver us where He wants us, when He wants us there, so He can be glorified in the end.
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