A Christmas Light

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Tonight we’ll be in two chapters of the Scripture. In the Old Testament, we’ll be in Isaiah chapter 42. In the New Testament, we’ll be in Matthew chapter 2.

In Isaiah chapter 42, God spoke through the Prophet concerning Jesus Christ our Lord. We read:

Isaiah 42:1-4 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

We know that this is a prophecy of the Coming Jesus because, after Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, the Pharisees gathered and held a council as to how to destroy Jesus (Matthew 12:14). The Bible then quotes our Isaiah text:

Matthew 12:15-21 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 16 and charged them that they should not make him known: 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by {Isaiah} the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. 19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

When Jesus came, He came to bring the love of God and compassion to all He saw. This is why the text states “a bruised reed shall He not break, and a smoking flax shall He not quench”. In two places in our text we are told of the Messiah that:

vs 18 … he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles

vs 21 … in his name shall the Gentiles trust

Jesus The Messiah Would Also Come For The Gentiles

Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

In Christ, God would reach out to save not just Israel, but all who will believe in Him. This is not the first time that God let Israel know that He wanted to save the Gentiles as well. Through the Prophet, the Lord said:

Isaiah 45:22 Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else

During this Christmas Season you will see “Nativity Scenes” in Churches and on lawns throughout the nation. In most nativity scenes you will see the Baby Jesus in a manger, Mary and Joseph, some shepherds, and three wise men. This seems to be the standard formula. Though the shepherds came to see the Baby Jesus, the Scripture says:

Luke 2:12, 16 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. … 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The Shepherds saw, not the Wise Men, but Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus in a manger. On the other hand, when the Wise Men came to see Jesus, He was NOT in a manger, NOR was Joseph there. We read:

Matthew 2:11 And when {the Wise Men} were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him …

The Wise Men only saw Mary and Jesus, and both were in a house. What is most interesting to me is that

Luke, a Gentile Physician, wrote about the Jewish Shepherds going to see Jesus in a manger. Matthew, a Jew and a Levite, wrote about the Wise Men who were Gentiles who went to see the young child Jesus in a house.

Both Jews and Gentiles saw the Messiah shortly after He came into the world. Though they did not see Him at the same time, the Jews saw Him first, and the Gentiles last. This is because the Gospel of salvation was offered:

Romans 1:16 … to the Jew FIRST, and also to the Greek {Héllēn, Gentiles}

God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as to King David concerning the coming of the Messiah. Therefore it is no mystery why Jesus would be revealed to the Jew first. It was the Shepherds who would come to see Jesus in the manger. But the wise men would come some time later – and these were clearly Gentiles. They came because God promised Abraham:

Genesis 12:3 … in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Jesus came for us all! Let’s focus on these “Wise Men”

Matthew 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

We do not know how many “Wise Men” came to see Jesus. We will later read that they bring three gifts, but the number of men is not mentioned in Scripture. These men come into the Capital City of Israel, the place where the Temple of God and the Priests were. They were coming according to the promise of God in Isaiah 42:16

Isaiah 42:16 … I will make darkness light before them

The Wise Men said,

we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him

These men are following a star, probably traveling at night. They called Jesus “The King of the Jews”. As they went through Jerusalem asking this question, word got back to King Herod the Great. Herod was an awful man. He was born in Idumea, south of Judah. Herod was King over Judea because the Roman Senate appointed him. He was therefore a puppet King, serving at the whim of Rome. When Herod heard the Wise Men were looking for “The King of the Jews”, this threatened him because he was suppose to be “King of the Jews”.

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Herod was notorious for his cruelties. When Herod was troubled, all Jerusalem was troubled. An example of his cruelty was that, when he laid dying, he ordered the imprisonment of many Pharisees. He ordered that, once he died, these imprisoned Pharisees be crucified so that the day of his death would be marked by weeping!

Mark 2:4-6 And when {Herod} had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Herod asked the Chief Priests and Lawyers where the Messiah was prophesied to come from. They correctly referred to the prophecies of:

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Discovering this, Herod calls the Wise Men to his palace:

Matthew 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

Dr. Bob Utley notes in his commentary that “Herod was interested in the age of the child. Since it took the Magi many months to travel from Persia, Jesus was at least one or two years of age at this time.” Herod was not genuinely interested in the Messiah, other than to remove a threat to his throne.

Matthew 2:8 {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.

I have often wondered why Herod didn’t send an armed escort with the Wise Men to Bethlehem. I believe it is because God knew Herod’s heart, and knew that his intent was to ultimately kill Jesus. The Bible says:

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

God is in control! He knew that Herod would have killed the young Jesus without a moment’s hesitation. God moved Herod’s heart to send the Wise Men on their way unhindered, thus allowing them to finish their mission. But God also insured that the Wise Men, as well as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, would all escape Bethlehem before Herod realized it. The Father had a plan for Jesus, and that plan was not that a monster King kill His Son. No, His plan was to save the world through Jesus.

Galatians 4:4-5 … when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

The Wise Men Worship The Lord Jesus

Matthew 2:9-11 … When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him…

They WORSHIPED Jesus. This is the Greek προσκυνέω proskynéō, {pronounced pros-koo-neh’-o}, which means to prostrate oneself in homage, to reverence or adore. These men came to worship the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord. The only One Who is supposed to be worshiped is God Himself. Jesus told the devil in the wilderness:

Matthew 4:10 … thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve …

No one is to be worshiped, no one but God. Jesus Christ, our Messiah, is God. Though this is the first time Jesus is worshiped, this is NOT the only time He is worshiped – and RECEIVED that worship.

The leper worshiped Jesus (Matthew 8:2)
A certain Ruler worshiped Jesus (Matthew 9:18)
The disciples worshiped Jesus (Matthew 14:33)
The Canaanite woman worshiped Jesus (Matthew 15:25)
The mother of James and John worshiped Jesus (Matthew 20:20)
The disciples worshiped the resurrected Jesus (Matthew 28:9,17)

Jesus Christ is worthy of all worship. He is to be adored, for He is the Door of salvation, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Father told the Angels:

Hebrews 1:6 … let all the angels of God worship him.

As a part of their worship, the Wise Men gave “treasures” to Jesus.

Matthew 2:11-12 … and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Again, tradition assumes that there are three Wise Men, because there are three gifts. Yet we do not know this. The gifts given to Jesus were very appropriate for the Messiah.

  • Gold has always been a precious metal. The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold (Exodus 25:10-17). Once a year the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple where the Ark was kept, and sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed animal onto the Mercy Seat on the lid of the Ark. This was to appease the wrath of God for the sins of His people (see Leviticus 16). From a practical standpoint, this gold would finance Joseph’s family as they fled to Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Herod.
  • Frankincense was obtained by making incisions in the bark of the trees of the genus Boswellia. The white resin or gum that was produced was mixed with (Exodus 30:34) “stacte, and onycha, and galbanum”. God told His people Israel to (Exodus 30:36-37) “beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord.” Burned as an incense by the priests, it symbolized the prayers of Israel rising up to God. Jesus Christ is not only our Messiah, He is our High Priest (see Hebrews 8:1; 9:11, 24), representing us unto God.
  • Myrrh was obtained like frankincense was, by slashing the bark of trees. Frankincense came from the genus Boswellia, whereas Myrrh came from the flowering trees of the genus Commiphora, of the incense-tree family (Burseraceae). When later in life Jesus was crucified, He would be offered myrrh to drink (Mark 15:23) to stupefy Him, making His crucifixion easier. Jesus would refuse to drink that myrrh, bearing the full weight of our sins on His body on that terrible tree! After Jesus died on the Cross, Joseph of Arimathæa and Nicodemus would go to Pilate and get permission to take His body from that place. The Bible says in John 19:39-40 “{they} brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”

Jesus Is Saved, And A Terrible Prophecy Is Fulfilled

Matthew 2:13-15 when {the Wise Men} were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Matthew tells us that Jesus’ family temporary exile in Egypt was a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1. But next we see the evil of Herod fully exposed. Realizing that he had been betrayed, Herod ordered that Bethlehem be attacked:

Matthew 2:16-18 Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by {Jeremiah} the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

The Prophet Jeremiah foresaw this horrible massacre in:

Jeremiah 31:15 Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; {Rachel} weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Why did God send His Son into the world? Because without Jesus, evil is unchecked. The life that rejects Christ as Lord and Savior can become as mean as Herod’s life was. Oh Beloved, this world needs Jesus. Oh Beloved, we all need Jesus. The Light of God led the Wise Men to Jesus. The Light of God beckons you to Jesus. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, I pray that this Christmas your focus is not on the presents under the tree … but the Presence of God Who died on the Tree. He gave Himself for you and for me. Trust Him. Believe He gave Himself for your sins. Obey the Gospel:

Romans 10:9-13 if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

May God touch your hearts with His Scripture, and His Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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