Sacrifice of Worship

As the wise men go into the house and see the child, they bow down and worship Him. Because worship always involves sacrifice, they give baby Jesus, very expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The reason we believe there were three Magi is born out of the tradition of there being three gifts given. We truly do not know who was there the night they worshiped Jesus. Throughout history, and still today, gold is considered to be the most precious of metals, with the widest trading platforms and notoriety it still serves as a symbol of value and wealth. Frankincense is a very expensive gum resin from an African tree is pressed for its oil. While Myrrh is also a gum resin refined into an expensive oil. Both were used as two of the ingredients in the Old Testament oil of anointing. (Exodus 30:23; John 19:39). This oil was used in much the same manner as many of you have seen me walk the pews and pray over our church, this is God’s command to Ole Mo to anoint the tent and all its furniture. Exodus 30:29~…Whatever touches them will become holy. (ESV)

These expensive gifts will provide the financial resources for Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt avoiding Herod’s wrath. This beautiful moment is an example of Jehovah Jireh, God our provider. Who resources the needs of His children to facilitate His own plan. This doesn’t mean he will give you a lake house, what it does reveal is that God provides what is necessary to fulfill His divine purpose. And, yes, sometimes His blessings are so great, we feel like Obed Edom in 2 Samuel 6. While other times it is precisely the right amount of oil, as it was with Elijah and the Widow in 2 Kings 4. These wise guys, Magi, who came to worship Jesus, gave as an act of their worship. We must grasp that giving an offering is not added to worship, or an interruption of worship, rather it is an integral part of worship. I love how William McDowell, captures this in song saying: I give myself away So You can use me, Here I am, Here I stand Lord, my life is in your hands, Take my heart, Take my life, As a living sacrifice, all my dreams, all my plans, Lord I place them in your hands, I give myself away, everything we have is to be used for God’s glory.

Being warned in a dream not to return to Herod. They, therefore, return to their own country by way of another route (2:11-12). Dreams were a common method of divine guidance in the Old Testament Numbers 12:6. As soon as Jesus Christ is born, the evil world under Satan’s influence is ruckus and already trying to snuff Him out. However, nothing can change God’s plan for the salvation of the world. Proverbs 19:21~Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (NIV) Joseph and Mary have no idea what God’s will has in store for them. Someone once said, The way to see far ahead in the will of God, is to go as far ahead as you can see; Then, God will reveal the next step. If we want to know What to Expect, when doing God’s will, expect God to lead by Incremental steps.

What step can you take today to walk more closely with the Lord?

What was seen

Expect Incremental Steps (Matthew 2:1-12). As we will discover in chapter 2, God reveals His will to us one step at a time. Matt doesn’t record the details of Jesus’ birth, as Luke does. Matt states simply Jesus is born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:11~And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense, and myrrh. (ESV) Bethlehem is a small town some five miles south of Jerusalem. Since Matt is primarily writing to Jews to prove Jesus is the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, he places emphasis on where Jesus Christ is born. Bethlehem Ephrathah is only a small village among the many clans of Judah, small but bringing one from old, Micah 5:2 (NIV).

Ephrathah is the ancient name of Bethlehem in Judah (Genesis 35:16, 

19). Jesus’ birth takes place in the days of Herod the Great (2:1) who rules from 37 to 4 BC. A ruthless, evil man, who murders members of his own family. It’s his son Herod Antipas who beheads John the Baptist in Mark 6:26-28. After Jesus is born, wise men come from the east to Jerusalem (2:1). Little is known about the Magi, some call wise guys. They are not kings but specialize in astronomy and likely hail from Babylon, famously known for studying the stars and prophecies, like the messianic prophecies from Jews exiled during the Babylonian captivity. Apparently, the Magi are God-fearing Gentiles, like Cornelius of Acts 10:1-2. When they arrive in Jerusalem, they explain they’re looking for the king of the Jews Matthew 2:2~…For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. (ESV)

When Herod hears this news, he’s troubled, as is everyone in Jerusalem. He calls a meeting of the leading priests and scribes asking them where is the Christ or Messiah to be born. Sharing Micah 5:2 the prophecy says Bethlehem of Judea (2:2-6). To avoid arousing more public interest in their visit, Herod calls for a private inquiry with these wise guys to learns when the star first appeared. Telling the wise men to go, search, then report back so he too can worship the Christ (2:7-8). 

After the meeting, the wise men go set out. The star they’ve seen in the east guides them just as God led the Israelites with a pillar of cloud in Exodus 13:21. When the star stops over Bethlehem, they’re filled with joy (2:9-10). Now Bethlehem means house of bread. What makes this interesting is what Jesus declares in John 6:48~I am the bread of life. (ESV) This is the first of the seven I Am sayings of Jesus Christ. Moreover, this image is pressed upon us each time we follow the Lord in Holy Communion. His body, the bread of life, and His blood the wine, Broken and poured out all for love. Remember Jesus Christ was born to die in our place for our sins.

Why not take a step closer to God today. 

What to Expect

What to Expect, it’s a question we’ve all asked when doing God’s will. Jesus said in John 16:33~…In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (NIV) He never said easy was the way, and we are reminded again in today’s passage of Matthew 2. Nothing in chapter 2 describes Jesus Himself, rather Matt’s purpose is to stress the kind of reception Messiah receives from a hostile world. Nothing has changed in our current culture either, because the lost world is still antagonistic towards Jesus and His followers. 

Peter preaches 30 years, telling others of his eyewitness encounter to the power and presence of Messiah. 2 Peter 3:16-17~For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus, eyewitnesses of his majesty, from God the Father…(ESV) 2 Peter 3:17-19~…This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…borne from heaven …we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place…(ESV) Into a dark world, shone a great light (Isaiah 9:2). This week we are going to look into the light of Christ, we learn what to expect when doing God’s will. 

Today, let’s begin by thanking the Lord for all He has done, giving us freedom in Jesus Chris His son.