Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Mrs. Doreen Tamminga
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, ÔWhere is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him.Õ (Matthew 2:1,2)
Have you ever looked up on a cold winter night and seen the bright specks of white scattered across the black sky? The longer you gazed, the more stars you saw. You may have noticed as you looked that some of the stars are brighter than others, and some seem to form a shape. By going from dot to dot, you could even draw a picture with the stars! There are people that study the stars; they are called astronomers. Astronomers have been studying the stars for thousands of years, and during the time of the Israelite kings, many countries around Israel studied the stars to try to prophecy what was going to happen in their kingdom or in the world. These people that studied the stars were often called wise men or sorcerers and magicians. You have heard of them before, havenÕt you? Well, this month we are going to hear a story about some wise men that were studying the night skies.

Far to the east of Israel, across deserts and mountains, was a foreign kingdom. In this kingdom lived some wise men. These men studied all kinds of things, from the skies and stars, to the earth below. They knew the histories of the countries around them, and so they knew also about Israel. They would have known how the Israelites had conquered Jericho and then the rest of Canaan. And they would have known that the Israelites worshipped Jehovah, the unseen powerful God, not an image made by human hands. These wise men probably knew how Balaam, a prophet from their eastern kingdoms, was once sent to curse Israel. Instead, he blessed Israel, saying, ÒI shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of IsraelÓ(Numbers 24:17). Balaam was prophesying of a star that would appear and a King that would then come from Israel.

And so one night, as these wise men were watching the night skies, tracing out the familiar movement and patterns of the stars, they suddenly saw a new star, a special star, the Star prophesied by Balaam many years ago. ÒIt is the Star of Jacob!Ó they must have told one another, Òthe sceptre that would rise out of Israel is here! At last, their great King is born. Let us go and honour this great King of kings.Ó And so they took expensive gifts, prepared food, and readied their camels for the long journey.

After days of travelling through the desert, guided at night by the Star, they came to Israel. At last they had reached the country of the new King. They must have hurried as they made their way to Jerusalem, the capital city, for soon they would see Him, the one they had travelled so far to honour. To Jerusalem? Why did they travel to Jerusalem? Well, a king lives in a palace, doesnÕt he? And when such a great king is born, wouldnÕt that be where he could be found?

So they make their way to the palace in a strange procession of richly dressed men and heavily loaded camels. The people of Jerusalem must have stopped to stare, but when the wise men asked about the great King that had been born, they were met puzzled looks and frowns. No one knew about Him. They already had a king chosen for them by the Romans, an Edomite king named Herod. He was certainly not the King the wise men were looking for.

Soon the wise men arrived at the palace. There King Herod asked them carefully about who they were looking for. He did not know where to send them, but asked the Israelite chief priests and scribes. They had an answer for the wise men. ÒIt says in the prophecy of Micah,Ó they tell the wise men, Òthat the great Ruler shall be born in Bethlehem.Ó

The wise men left the king, the palace, and Jerusalem, and once again, the Star that they had first seen appeared to lead them to Bethlehem. There the star stopped over the place where Jesus was. The wise men must have wondered about the small plain house, but in faith they entered and found Mary with the young child Jesus. Then we read in the Bible that they fell down and worshipped Him. It was not before king Herod that they fell down to worship, but before the King of all, this small child Jesus. They believed that this poor young boy living in a small house in Bethlehem was a King, and by faith they knew that He was to be worshipped as God. They opened their packs and gave to Him their kingly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The wise men travelled far, believing that they would find their King at the end of the journey. We do not need to travel far to find the Lord Jesus in Bethlehem, but instead, at this Christmas-time again, the Lord Jesus is brought to us in the Christmas stories, the Christmas songs, and Christmas sermons. And like the wise men, we must believe in the Lord Jesus and seek Him, then rejoice in Him and worship Him when we find Him.

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