The Magi were students of ancient and sacred lore. Two hundred years before Christ, the entire Hebrew Bible had been translated into Greek, named the Septuagint, making it available to scholars world-wide. The Magi would have had access not only to the Septuagint, but would also have had the original writings of the prophet Daniel, who had lived in Chaldea for most of his life.
They may also have had some access to the older Hebrew scriptures written up to the time of the great diaspora described at the end of 2nd Kings, since the Jews would have brought their scriptures with them when they went into exile.
They were not Jews, as the citizens of Jerusalem were, and the scribes and chief priests were, and Herod was (more or less). But they believed God and acted on their belief. They had faith. Think of all the planning, the cost, the time, and the risk that went into this trip. Their plan was to follow this star, for however long it would take, wherever it would take them. They were absolutely committed to seeking God, based on what God had revealed to them, and God brought them to the Messiah.
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.
Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)
Part of our design, the design God worked into all people, is the propensity to worship. We all worship something. But, our design is to worship God – that’s the fulfillment of our longing.
Their worship was physical. The Bible talks often of falling on your knees, raising up your hands, falling prostrate on the ground before God. Our bodies become expressions of what’s going on in our hearts. Even Jesus prayed on His knees before His Father in heaven.
Their worship was emotional. In spite of their worldly dignity and high standing, they humbled themselves before this tiny king. They delighted in Him and adored Him – we just read how they were filled to overflowing with joy.
Their worship was spiritual, based on truth, They came expectantly into the home Joseph had now found for his family. But it wasn’t until they saw God’s literal fulfillment of His promise, a young girl, a virgin, holding the little baby boy, begotten of God, right there in Bethlehem, the birthplace of kings, that they fell down on their knees.
Their worship was generous, They didn’t come empty-handed. In meditating on this chapter it struck me what you and I are saying to the Lord when we come empty-handed to Him in worship.
Essentially we’re saying -God has been a stingy Father. We’re saying, “Well Lord, looks like You didn’t provide very well for me, since I have nothing left to give you.” And we’re also saying, even in hard times when the money’s pretty scarce, “Lord, this time the sacrifice is simply too big. You aren’t worth it this time.”
The Lord says,
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this…if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Malachi 3:10)
Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure‑‑pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)
The Magis’ gifts were also prophetic, and an expression of their faith.
The gold spoke of Jesus’ purity and His royalty.
The frankincense spoke of Jesus’ priestly duty, receiving the prayers of believers, and offering up intercession for all those who come to Him.
And the myrrh spoke of Jesus’ sacrificial death to save His people from their sins.
The right response to God is to love and worship Jesus
You hear people say they’re seeking, but what are they really seeking? God says, through the prophet Jeremiah,
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” (Jeremiah 29:13, The Message)
If a person is really seeking God, they will always find Jesus.
Having, in faith, followed God’s guidance and having accepted and worshiped the Messiah, the wise men gained a deeper sensitivity for God’s voice. God took the Magi into His protection and guided them more directly,
“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
Without questioning, even though it meant having to map out a new, and unknown, route, finding new and unknown oases and connections for their large company on the long trek home, they–unquestioningly and immediately–obeyed and continued to follow God’s guidance.
True worship continues into greater sensitivity to God’s guidance and voice, a life lived “in step with the Spirit.”
(Thoughts taken from “Adventuring through Matthew, Mark and Luke” by Ray Stedman)
[Wise Men Offering GIfst | http://www.freebibleimages.org, LUMO Project]