Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying,"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."…… and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. Matt 2:1-2 and 9-10
The wise men or, more correctly, Magi were Eastern astrologers. Astrology was a sophisticated science in that era, unlike the astrological signs you read about today in the daily news. Real astrology is the study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs. We see biblical evidence of this in both the Old and New Testament. In Genesis 1:14 we read how the stars are for signs and seasons and, for days and years. Sometimes we forget that God is a God of signs & symbols. He is found in His appointed feasts of the Bible. He is the Living Water of Life, He is the Door, He is the Rose of Sharon and He is the Tree of Life, He is the Rainbow’s Color, He is the Morning Star.
The Magi saw an unusual star in the East. As trained students of the stars, the wise men observed an unexplainable phenomenon in the heavens, which was somehow interpreted by them as a sign of the birth of the King of the Jews. The purpose of a sign is to give direction or to highlight, or point to, something or someone. I believe the Holy Spirit was giving them this sign with its interpretation. The wise men came to worship a King, not just a babe in a manger. Their visit was also a sign and served to emphasize Jesus’ Kingly identity. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The gifts they gave were also signs pointing to the identity and purpose of the babe born in a manger.
And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matt 2:11. Each of these gifts was of great value. They had practical use for Mary and Joseph and spiritual importance and meaning as they “presented to gifts to Him.”
Gold represents Divine Nature. As gold is the highest, most precious metal, so the divine nature is the highest nature, the only nature having immortality. Gold is one of the only metals that, when heated with fire, will not lose anything of it’s nature, weight, color, or any other property. Genuine faith is the same way. Gold is used in scripture when talking about the strength of someone’s faith.
Frankincense represents Worship of the True God. Frankincense is made by cutting a tree found Persia, Arabia and India. It’s like a sap that is gathered and then dried for 3 months and becomes a like a hardened resin or gum. Frankincense is used as a perfume but mostly it was burned as sweet incense during worship. During the Exodus, Aaron would burn Frankincense at the altar as a sweet offering to the Lord. The gift and smell of Frankincense given was a sign that this was the same God that was worshiped in the Old Testament.
Myrrh represents the Atoning Sacrifice of Christ: Myrrh, like Frankincense, is also the sap from a tree that is hardened and then used. Unlike most other resins, myrrh expands and "blooms" when burned, instead of melting or liquefying. The death of Jesus expanded the Kingdom of God and blossomed sons and daughters of our Father. However, unlike Frankincense which is sweet, Myrrh has a bitter taste to it. Myrrh was mostly used to embalm the dead because it had the property to preserve. It was also used as a perfume, an ingredient of holy ointments mentioned in Exodus. Myrrh represents the bitter cup that Christ had to drink in suffering for our sins and the healing for us that his death and atonement brings. Myrrh has many healing properties. It is used today as an antiseptic and is most often used in mouthwashes, gargles and toothpastes for prevention and treatment of gum disease. Myrrh is currently used in some liniments and healing salves that may be applied to abrasions and other minor skin ailments. As of 2008, 35% of Saudi Arabians use myrrh as medicine.
I love the phrase “they opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him.” This is what God is looking for from each of us. Jesus said in Matt 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. He also said “A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things, and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, brings forth evil things. Matt. 12:35. Jesus also warned of false worship, in Matt 15: 8-9, "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
This Christmas season may the signs and gifts of the first Advent remind us of God’s gift to us and of our response to that gift. Worship in Spirit and Truth as we give thanks to God for His indescribable gift!
Thu, December 16, 2010
by Greg Daley filed under