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The Prophesy Fulfilled

Birth of The King – Chapter 2

Two Incredible Journeys


Around Christmas, we sing so gleefully “We Three Kings” and envision such a carefree trip for them, but what might have been the risks and challenges faced by the Magi? And I know of no “carol” celebrating the Holy Family’s fleeing to Egypt!

A Story of Two “Incredible Journeys”

Have you, or anyone you’ve know, ever undertaken an “incredible journey” full of unknown risks and dangerous challenges?

These accounts are so familiar to us we hardly stop to think about them!


These were apparently wealthy men, and they must have looked the part, as they formed a caravan.

They were following a mysterious star, and they would have to enter territory ruled by Herod, a very powerful and violent man.

Journey #1: Go West Three Kings!

Perhaps as far as India and Persia, it would seem that this journey took the better part of a year, one way (6 to 10 months, perhaps).

These adventurous men left home and family and braved the dangers of travel, which surely included robbers.


What the destination? For how long? Where will we live? What about food and drink, clothing and shelter? Such a long trip for a young child!

Journey #2: Go South Family of Three!

Awaken by an angel with a notice to leave immediately for their lives and under threat of death for their little boy!

There was no time for advanced planning and preparation.

They hurriedly packed up what few possessions they had and fled from Herod, who sought to kill the Christ Child.

And then, of course, came the return trip.


Observations in Matthew 2 What about food and drink, clothing and shelter? Such a long trip for a young child!

1. Matthew carefully avoids sensationalism

Matthew would not do well as a journalist in today’s marketplace. He just doesn’t seem able to sensationalize his material. Not only does he fail to embellish his account by stretching the truth, he even refuses to dramatize his account by including all that is true.

2. Matthew omits much historical information that we would love to have known.

We would certainly like to have been given more information about the Magi. Precisely where did they come from? What did they believe? What was the “star” that appeared, and just how did it guide them? How long was the journey, and what became of them later on? We would like to know how many babies Herod slaughtered, and we would very much enjoy reading a more graphic account of his death. How interesting it would be to read more of the time Jesus and His parents spent in Egypt! Matthew, like the other Gospel writers, was very selective in what he chose to include in his Gospel.


Observations in Matthew 2 What about food and drink, clothing and shelter? Such a long trip for a young child!

3. Matthew’s choice of which Scriptures he chooses to cite or refer to is interesting, to say the least.

Numbers 24:14-19A star will march forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will rise out of Israel.

Isaiah 60:1-14Nations come to your light, kings to your bright light.

All the merchants of Sheba will come, bringing gold and [frank]incense and praising the Lord.

Psalm 72:8-17The kings of Tarshish and the coastlands will offer gifts; the kings of Sheba and Seba will bring tribute. All kings will bow down to him; all nations will serve him.

May they offer him gold from Sheba!

May all nations consider him to be favored by God!

Matthew has not selected (or ignored) Old Testament texts at random; he has carefully chosen each text for a specific purpose.


Observations in Matthew 2 What about food and drink, clothing and shelter? Such a long trip for a young child!

4. Matthew gives the sequence of events that took place in Jerusalem, and we weave them into a singular, quaint and romantic “fairy tale” event.

(a) Jesus is born in Bethlehem, perhaps a year or so earlier.

(b) The star leads the magi as far as Jerusalem, and then disappears.

(c) Once in Jerusalem, the magi begin to inquire where the Christ Child can be found by asking the people of the city.

(d) Word reaches Herod that the magi have come to town seeking to find a newly-born “King of the Jews” so that they may worship Him.

(e) Herod is greatly troubled by this news, and consequently so are all those in Jerusalem.

(f) Herod summons the chief priests and experts in the law, inquiring of them where the Messiah was to be born. This gathering did not, in my opinion, include the magi. The religious elite inform Herod that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, citing as proof the prophecy of Micah 5:2.

(g) Herod then privately summons the magi and has a meeting with them (alone). He asks them when the “star” appeared, thus fixing the birth date of the Holy Child, and therefore His age.

(h) Herod then sends the magi to Bethlehem to find the Messiah, instructing them to return and inform him of the location of this Child, so that he can worship the Child.

(i) As the magi leave Jerusalem headed toward Bethlehem, the “star” appears once again, and the magi rejoice greatly because their divinely-provided guidance has returned.

(j) The “star” then leads the magi to the exact location of the Child, where they worship Him.


The Maji What about food and drink, clothing and shelter? Such a long trip for a young child!

the “Wise Men” from the east

The Christ Child

the Child who will “save His people from their sins”

Herod

Herod the Great, Herod 1

Three Main Personalities in Matthew 2


THE MAJI…Hollywood has nothing on their “map of the stars”

Scholars of the stars in (probably) Persia, India, and/or Arabia.

  • Astronomy (“astral nomos or law”) was the study of the laws or movements of the stars

  • Astrology (“astral logos or word”) was the study of the message or meaning of the stars’ movements for earthly life

Because of their skill in deciphering the meanings or messages of the stars, the magi were widely considered ‘wise men.’

“Magi” are not well spoken of in the Scriptures: often referred to as sorcerers, conjurers, magicians. Masters of divination.

Matthew may even celebrate the fact that these Gentiles were divinely called to worship the Christ Child.

Traditions identify a variety of different names for the Magi. In the Western Christian church they have been commonly known as:

  • Melchior - a Persian scholar

  • Caspar - an Indian scholar

  • Balthazar - an Arabian scholar


THEIR STAR stars”

For millennia, believers, scoffers and the curious have wondered at the Biblical account of the Star. The Bible recounts unusual, or even impossible astronomical events at Christ’s birth. For many doubters, the account of the Star is easily dismissed as myth. For many believers, it’s a mystery accepted on faith. But what happens if we combine current historical scholarship, astronomical fact and an open mind?

http://www.bethlehemstar.net

Three of important factors have lead to a modern rediscovery of “The Star”:

  • Johannes Kepler’s discovery of how the solar system works

  • Improvements in our knowledge of first century history, and

  • The development and advancements in computer technology


gold, stars”

frankincense,

and myrrh

THEIR GIFTS

The gifts of the magi –

  • Gifts worthy of a king

  • Gifts of value that could finance a trip to Egypt

  • Gifts that symbolize the life of Christ


HEROD I – No Mr. Nice Guy! stars”

Herod was a "Judaized" Edomite

Herod was appointed governor of Galilee at age 25 and later elected "King of the Jews" (King of Judea) by the Roman Senate (ca. 37 BC)

Herod served as the Roman governor of Judea until his death in 4 BC.

Herod had 9 wives and many infamous sons: Antipater II, Herod Archelaus (Judea), Herod Antipas (Galilee), Herod II, Phillip (E. of Jordan)

  • He slaughtered the last remnants of the Hasmonean dynasty.

  • He executed more than half the Sanhedrin.

  • He killed three hundred court officers out of hand.

  • He executed his own wife, Mariamne, her mother Alexandra, his sons Antipater, Aristobulus and Alexander.

  • Finally, as he lay dying, he arranged for all the notable men of Jerusalem to be assembled in the hippodrome and killed the moment his own death was announced.

  • A man of ruthless cruelty and with a fanatical neurosis about any competition, it is quite in character that he should order the execution of the male children in Bethlehem.


Herod Archelaus – ethnarch of Judea & Samaria stars”

Herod Antipas – tetrarch of Galilee

Phillip – tetrarch of region E. of the Jordan River

The Division of Herod's Kingdom:

Tetrarchy (Judea) under Herod Archelaus

Territory under Herod Antipas

Territory under Herod Philip II

Salome I(cities of Jabneh, Azotas, Phaesalis)

Roman province of Syria

Autonomous cities (Decapolis)

Archelaus – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

After Herod the Great’s death, Rome divides Judea into 3 governing districts:

Not long after Archelaus takes the throne over Judea and Samaria, he imposes his authority over the Judeans who confront him on a punishment of death upon 2 teachers and 40 youth. Archelus turns on the vocal opposition and orders the execution of 3,000 Judeans in the Temple and cancels Passover.

Is it any wonder that Joseph is fearful to return to Bethlehem (in Judea) and the Angel of the Lord tells Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Nazareth.


…are kept stars”

THE CHRIST CHILD

Four times in chapter 2, Matthew claims Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and a 5th OT reference foretells of his gifts

Matthew 2:3-6 Born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2

Matthew 2:1, 11 Presented gifts Psalm 72:10

Matthew 2:13-15 Brought out of Egypt Hosea 11:1

Matthew 2:16-18 Herod kills the children Jeremiah 31:15

Matthew 2:22-23 Home in Nazareth Judges 13:5


Application: Matthew 2 stars”

God can be trusted to watch over us guide us and provide for us.

God will keep His promises.

God will send us “messengers”…from Magi to Angels.

God will comfort and strengthen His people.

God manifests Himself in and through His creation.

God knows all things past, present and future and works all things to accomplish His will.



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