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Worship to the King
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.
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
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.
Herod Kills the Children
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.
Return to Nazareth
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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