Summary: When Kings come together, there must be a yeilding of some athority. Epiphany-The sharing of the light to the gentiles.
This morning we are going over one of the Good verses Evil stories that are all through the bible. We are talking about a clash of kings, sort of. We have at least 3 kings involved and it could be 5 or more.
There are a lot of holes in the story because we are just not told by Matthew or any other Gospel writer, the details. Much of what we learn about the situation comes from Roman History and records other than the Bible directly.
The dates that have been set: the date of birth and going to and from Egypt all come from guesses based on a statement about Herod’s death being between an eclipse and a Passover celebration. Astronomers do some heavy math and tie it all to our calendar.
It is widely believed that our nativity scene confuses us about the timeline. The arrival of the Magi probably happens about two years after the birth if Jesus. The hints in scripture are entered the house, the child and then Later Herod’s choice to have boys 2 years and under murdered.
This morning I want to talk about the kings involved. Herod the Great: The delightful little man was hated by the Jews because of his successful alliance with Rome. He had been appointed king by the Roman Senate in 40 BC. (Roman History) When he was appointed he asked for the Title - King of the Jews.
So when the Magi came looking for the one born - King of the Jews was a direct threat to Herod.
Herod was paranoid at least and more likely insane. We believed everyone was out to get him. He had three of his sons, his wife and his mother-in-law put to death because he saw them as threats to his power. He had untold numbers of others killed and groups of 3000 killed just to demonstrate his power and to keep control.
Generally he was not a nice guy. He was only half Jewish and the Jews didn’t accept him, though he did receive some favor of the Jews because he rebuilt the Temple.
He was a terrific architect. His cities are always described and being magnificent. He build shrines the his murdered family members, I guess he missed them. Many of the buildings and systems he designed and build were feats of engineering that were beautiful and advanced in the technology of the day.
Even with all the physical things he did that were good for the kingdom (his). He knew he was unpopular in Galilee, and all of Jedua. When he was close to death he wanted to make sure there would be mourning when he died. To make sure, he ordered some of Jerusalem’s most distinguished citizens to be arrested on trumped up charges and sentenced to death.
Their execution was to take place the minute he died.
It ends up that the order was never carried out. Someone changed the orders or realized that if he was dead then his order may not have authority.
Over all his was a kingdom based on cruelty and fear.
--The next king or kings are the ones we call the Wise men or Magi
Very little is known about them Matthew doesn’t even record how many of them there were. All the Bible tells us is that they came from the East to Jerusalem. And so it is more than likely they were NOT Jews.
Tradition has it that they were Magi from Persia, once a mighty country where modern Iran and Iraq are now.
What is known about the names and number comes from legends and what exactly Magi were is pulled from history about the Persian kings.
In the second century, a church father named Tertullian suggested that these men were kings because the Old Testament had predicted that kings would come to worship him.
He also concluded that there were three kings based on the number of gifts mentioned, gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Popular myth calls them astrologers, it is generally accepted that “the Magi were a priestly caste (in the Persian Empire). Called the Meads.
The Meads - Magi worshipped the elements of fire, air, earth and water, especially fire.
The only temples they had were fire temples, generally on the roofs of houses, where they kept fires burning day and night – a bit like the Eternal Flame in Arlington Cemetery over President John Kennedy’s grave.
And the term Magi is the base from which both of our modern words “magician” and “magistrate” come from. Which seems like very different meanings.
Have you ever wondered how these Magi had a clue that the star would signal a king would be born to the Jews?
Remember the Babylonians carried the Jewish people off in slavery. Some of the Jews stayed behind, and shared bits and pieces of the Jewish faith and history. It is theorized that the ones that stayed behind kept alive the story of the messiah and the sign of his coming.