2017-12-20 / Religion

Faithful seekers of the King

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Matthew 2:1-12

The divine message regarding the coming savior was not limited to the house of Israel. The prophet, Isaiah, declared, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2.

The people who, first, heard these words of the faithful prophet did not understand the eternal impact of this promise made by our Heavenly Father, the creator of the universe. They understood the coming of the messiah to their own nation. Yet, to include the great multitude indicated by the all-encompassing phrase, was unthinkable in the light of their exclusiveness of worship. The divine plan extends farther than the human mind can grasp!

At the time of the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, the announcement was, first, made to lowly shepherds. Luke 2:8-14. These socially-despised ones became the first evangelists. Luke 2:20. In the meantime, a message was written in the heavens that was read by astronomers “in the east,” probably in the land of Persia. This “sign” caused them to respond in a positive manner to the light that caught their attention.

These men, there is no direct indication of their number, had been students of the stars, and of the writings of other nations, including Israel. Matthew recorded, “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…” Matthew 2:1. They had recognized the “star,” and had realized the meaning of that which they witnessed. Since they recognized this sign as that of the birth of a King, they made their journey to Jerusalem. This “star” was first mentioned by the backslidden prophet, Balaam. Numbers 24:17. The prophet, Isaiah, made mention of this same sign. Isaiah 60:3.

Logic would have these men to believe that the present king would have some knowledge of this divine ly- announc ed birth. Their inquiry, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” was followed by their presenting the evidence that had prompted their journey, “for we have seen his star in the east.” Their purpose was specific, “and [we] are come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2.

The present king, known as Herod the Great, knew nothing of this birth. Matthew recorded his immediate response to the “news from afar,” “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled.” The whole city shared in this mental agitation, “and all Jerusalem with him.” Matthew 2:3.

This king was wicked and ruthless toward any person, including his own family, that he saw as a rival. He wanted all available information regarding this reported event. “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.” Matthew 2:4. Since Herod was not a Jew, he was an Edomite, he found that he was “in over his head” regarding the one he, now, saw as a rival.

There is no indication regarding the time required for the students of the law to find the answer to the kingly demand. “And they said unto him, In Bethlehem, in the land of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” Matthew 2:5, 6, see Micah 5:2.

With this information, Herod followed his usual pattern of action. “Then Herod, when he had privily (secretly) called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.” Matthew 2:7. These men had no way of knowing the sinister scheme that would come from the information that they were able to give. Armed with the details, Herod “sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.” Matthew 2:8.

These foreigners had no way of knowing the ruthlessness — cloaked in piety –– that lurked in the heart of Herod. They joyfully took the information that had been given — “When they had heard the king, they departed…” Matthew 2:9a. It seems is if they did not “follow the star” to Jerusalem. However, when they left the presence of Herod, Matthew reported, “and, lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” Matthew 2:9b, c. This fact gave them assurance that their journey was not in vain, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Matthew 2:10.

This visit took place some time after that momentous event in the stable in Bethlehem. Matthew recorded, “And when they were come into the house…” Matthew 2:11a. The couple and the young Child had remained in Bethlehem for a time. Their original purpose had been to carry out the governmental directive. We do not know how much time this process would have required. Once these seekers came into the house, “they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him…” Matthew 2:11b. It is obvious that these men recognized the dual nature of the One they had been seeking, deity and human.

When visitors came before royalty, they were expected to bring gifts, “and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” Mathew 2:11c. These gifts were significant. Gold represented royalty. Frankincense indicated deity. Myrrh was a spice that was used in embalming the dead. These pagans might not have under the coming death of this Child. He came as the Perfect Sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. John 1:29.

Wise men, humans, continue to seek, and find, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Please accept Him into your life, today. John 3:16.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. c om

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