December 5, 2017
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near—
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the borderlands of Moab,
and the territory of all the Shethites.
The Wise Men
Their journey would have taken most of a year at best, likely longer. Tradition claims there were three wise men, or Magi. If there were indeed three of these men, advisors to the royal court, the group traveling with them would have been at least forty men strong. There would have been cooks, and soldiers. There would be someone with some medical experience. There must have been a number of animals loaded with food and valuable items to use for barter for more food. It must have been quite an entourage.
They would have come from the area of the old Babylonian Empire making the trip hundreds of miles through rough terrain and desert. This trip was not free of danger. The group made this journey in peril of their lives from bands of robbers and thugs who might attack the convoy of mules and horses and men on foot. There was also harsh weather, injury and disease to contend with living in the open as well.
So why did they come? What could motivate men who lived the life of ancient court to literally put their lives on the line to make this trek? They would be gone for about two years of their lives living in far less than luxurious conditions. At least some of these Magi were court astronomers. They had seen a new star in the sky over Judea. Changes in the heavens were often considered omens. After some research, someone had come across the ancient texts left by Daniel centuries before. God’s hand is seen in the capture and exile of the Jewish people into Babylon. Daniel had been an enormous influence in the kingdom; he had left his mark.
It is interesting that no one in Judea had made the connection of the new star with the Messiah. Within a few short years of the birth of Jesus, the Roman Empire had subjugated the region. The power of self-rule had been taken from the leadership of Israel. Another interesting note was that they no longer held the power to impose the death sentence on a criminal. That sentence had to be issued by Rome, as it would be some 33 years later to an itinerate Rabbi named Jesus bar Joseph. The Chief Priest had gone wailing through the streets with his robes torn mourning that the Word of God had been broken. The scepter had been taken from Israel before the Messiah had come. It should have been a sign that Messiah was here, but that thought was missed just like the star.
God had moved Daniel, and Daniel remained faithful. Daniel had left his mark of faith and moved the Magi centuries later to announce to the world that a new King was born.
Matt 2:1-6 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” 3 And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet,6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”
The Wise Men traveled at the risk of their lives to find Jesus. Daniel risked his life to be faithful in prayer to the Lord. There are men and women today who risk their lives to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. What are we willing to risk to leave our mark on someone’s life so that they will see the light? Wise Men still seek Him. Show them the star.
Lord Jesus – Help us keep our eyes on You and not lose heart. If Your Word is true and unbreakable in our hearts and minds, then we will make our decisions based on that fact. When we see the stars in our lives, we will not miss them. A few of us will be like Daniel, we can all leave our mark in someone’s life for Your sake. Make us sensitive to know when to speak and when to listen. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Amen.