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Isaiah 60:1-6 1

Verse 1 – Arise – A word of encouragement accommodated to the Jewish, or Hebrew style, wherein, as by lying down, is described a servile and calamitous condition, chap. xlvii, 1, so by rising, and standing up, a recovery out of it, into a free, and prosperous one, as may be seen frequently; Rouze up, intimating her deliverance to be at hand. Here under a type, of Jerusalem’s restoration, is displayed the flourishing state of the Gentile – church, under the Messiah. Thy light – Thy flourishing and prosperous state.

Verse 2 – The darkness – All kinds of errors. The Lord – Christ. Shall be seen – Shall be conspicuous; as the Lord’s arising, to the darkness covering the earth, so the glory being seen, answers to that gross darkness.

Verse 3 – The Gentiles – A plain prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles.

Verse 5 – See – With delight the multitudes of thy children running to thee. Flow – They shall flock together to behold such an amazing sight. Fear – Or stand amazed. Enlarged – Both with joy, and love. The abundance – The islands of the sea, the nations, shall turn to thee in religion, and affection.

Verse 6 – The multitude – The treasure, that is brought upon camels. By these, and such like figurative expressions in several verses of this chapter is implied the coming in of all nations to Christ, and therefore they are brought in as presenting the chief commodities of their respective countries. Dromedaries – A smaller sort of camel. Ephah – The Midianites, and Ephrathites dwelt beyond Arabia. Sheba – A country in Arabia Felix, whose queen it was, that came to visit Solomon, and her bringing gifts might be a type of this, Solomon being a type of Christ. Gold – The principal commodities with which this country abounded, by which we are to understand whatever is precious.

Items for Discussion

  • To what degree do stories, prophecies of the Scripture serve to strengthen our faith in God?
  • When modern science attacks the very nature of our Scriptures, how should we respond: (a) to our selves; (b) to our friends and family; and (c) to our children?

 

Matthew 2:1-12
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Background

The primary purpose of the gospel of Matthew is to present Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Redeemer for whom the Jews had been waiting for thousands of years, and as the King of the Jews.

This is the only place in the entire New Testament where you can find the Star of Bethlehem. The account of the ‘star of Bethlehem’ in Matthew 2:1-12 is a factual account without mythical or imaginary content. There is no indication in the text that any other person actually saw the star. The shepherds in the field did not see the star, Herod did not see the star, Mary and Joseph did not see the star, and there is no contemporary record of a big star. Mark, Luke, and John do not record a big star. Astronomers running their planetariums backwards through time are not unanimous about it, and scholars trying to date the birth of Christ with its appearance have been confounded. Possible candidates for the star simply do not match the gospel’s chronology and dating. The reason for this is that Matthew never alleged a conspicuous star.

Biblical Truths

INTERESTING FACTS

A. FOR WHAT MATTHEW DOESN’T TELL US…
1. Who exactly were these “wise men from the East”?
a. Some think they were a group of priests from Persia
b. Others believe they were astrologers from Babylon
2. How many were there?
a. No actual number is given
b. Three types of gift are mentioned (Mt 2:11), but quality of gifts does not necessarily imply
the quantity of givers!
3. What was the nature of the “star”?
a. Was it an actual “star”?
b. Was it the planet Jupiter, often associated with the birth of kings
c. Was it a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the Sign of the Fish?
d. Was it a comet acting erratically?
4. How did these wise men connect the star with the birth of the king of the Jews?
a. Had they been taught by Jews of the Dispersion to expect the Messiah?
b. Had they been given special revelation from God not recorded in the Scriptures?

B. FOR WHAT LEGENDS HAVE RISEN…
1. That these wise men were “three kings from the Orient”
2. That their names were Melchior, Balthasar, and Caspar
3. That they visited Baby Jesus together with the shepherds the night of His birth
a. But it was some time later (up to two years!) – Mt 2:1,16
b. They visited Mary and the child in a house, not a stable! – Mt 2:11
4. That they were later baptized by Thomas

The facts are the Biblical record says little about WHO these men were. Perhaps because the emphasis is upon WHAT they did: “We have come to WORSHIP Him.” (Mt 2:2,11) What is important is that Jesus is worthy of worship, which can only mean that He is truly DEITY (“Immanuel”, or “God with us”)!

Items for Discussion

  • What would the implications be around a fact that a star was not conspicuous?
  • What can these magi teach us today?
  • What example do they give us to live by?
  • Discuss the following characteristics of the magi and how the modern day church might benefit if more members had these characteristics:
    • An Attitude of Expectancy
    • A Willingness to Take Risks
    • An Openness to Discovery
    • A Heart to Worship
    • A Determination to Obey

Discussion Challenge

  • How do we keep the pageantry of Christmas, the stories of Christmas alive so that Christ is honored?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations{/ref]
    1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. 5 Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. 6 Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.

    clip_image025Background

    One of the most well known of these prophets was Isaiah. He has come to be known by some as “The Messianic Prophet” because so much of his message had to do with the coming Messiah and His kingdom. In one such section, Isaiah tells of a time to come when a great light will come and shine throughout the land now draped in darkness. This prophecy was fulfilled about seven centuries later by Jesus, of Nazareth, our Messiah and Redeemer.

    Biblical Truths 2Wesley’s Notes: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.ii.xxiv.lxi.ii.html

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