Christmas - The Wise Men (2)
Contributed by Melvin Newland on Jan 1, 2019 (message contributor)
Summary: This is a revised & shorter version of a message concerning the Wise Men that I contributed to Sermon Central a number of years ago. (PowerPoints Available - #362)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at email@example.com and request PP #362.)
THE WISE MEN (#2)
TEXT: Matthew 2:1-12; Numbers 24:17
The story of the Wise Men in the Bible is a story of mystery, for it presents questions we cannot answer.
"Where did they come from?" We don't know.
"How many were there?" We really aren't sure.
"How did they know to follow the star?" We're not told.
The Bible presents it as a simple, straightforward story of some Wise Men who seem to come mysteriously out of the east to pay homage to the new born king, & then just as mysteriously they are gone.
Other than that, the Bible doesn't tell us much more about them personally. But over the years folklore has had a heyday! Tradition pictures them as 3 in number, riding camels across the desert, silhouetted against the nighttime sky.
Tradition gives their names as Casper, Melchior, Baltezar, & tells us where they came from & what they did. Folklore has it that they lived to be very old, & when the apostle Thomas came to their area preaching about Jesus that they gladly received the news & were baptized by him.
Tradition goes on to say that when they died their bodies were preserved in Constantinople. But centuries later their bones were moved to Cologne, Germany, & if you'll pay the price of admission, you can see their bones today.
Over the years a lot of stories have arisen about the Wise Men. Most of them are folklore with no evidence to prove that they are factual.
So, this morning lets concentrate on what we do know about them, rather than on what we don't know..
I. THEY FOLLOWED WHEREVER GOD LED THEM
The first thing we learn about the Wise Men was that they were willing to step out in faith & follow wherever God led them.
Why were they following the star? How did they know of its importance? Since the Bible doesn't tell us, we can only guess.
The Bible does tell us that the Wise Men came from the east. In centuries past, the major empires to the east had been the Babylonian & Persian empires. And history tells us that both of these empires specialized in studying the stars.
We also know that during the Jewish exile, Daniel, a faithful Jew & prophet of God, became chief of the wise men in Babylon & a third ruler in that kingdom. Then when the Persians conquered Babylon, Daniel was made president of the presidents under King Darius.
Therefore, scholars suggest that the wise men of the east had ample opportunity to know the O.T. prophecies.
For example, listen to Numbers 24:17 which says, "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, & a scepter shall rise from Israel."
So when they saw the star coming forth from Jacob, they were ready to go & worship Him who was to wield a scepter in Israel ? to be the King of the Jews.
Whatever the case, the important thing for us to realize is that they were willing to go - to follow wherever that special star would lead them. And God has always been faithful in leading those who are willing to follow.
ILL. Centuries before, He led the children of Israel through the wilderness, providing a pillar of cloud by day, & a pillar of fire by night. He provided food when they were hungry, drink when they were thirsty, & clothing when they were naked.
And now he had provided a star to lead these Wise Men to the place where the Christ child lay.
ILL. Can you imagine how their neighbors reacted? "O, are you going on a journey?" "Yes, we are." "Where are you going?" "We don't know." "Well, how long are you going to be gone?" "We don't know."
"What are you going to do when you get there, wherever it is?" "We are going to worship the king." "What king?" "We don't know." "Why are you going?" "We are going because we have read the prophecies, & have seen his star in the sky, & we have a strange stirring within our hearts to go."
I imagine those neighbors shook their heads & said, "And we call you ‘Wise Men’? How foolish to take off on a journey, not knowing where you are going, or what you are going to find when you get there, or how long you will be gone."
Neighbors may have said the same kind of things to Abraham when he left Ur of Chaldees to go to the land that God had promised him. And undoubtedly there were those who questioned Peter, Andrew, James, & John when they left their fishing business to follow Jesus & become "Fishers of Men."