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It is once again only the apostle Matthew who relays the events that unfolded when “wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying,” ‘“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews,’” (Matthew 2:1-2a, NKJV)? Stargazers as part of their religion, these Gentiles had seen a very special star suddenly appear in the sky where they lived and concluded not just any king, but the King of the Jews had been born and came “to worship Him,” (Matthew 2:2b, NKJV).1 The text is clear these Gentile religious men made no small stir in the city of Jerusalem upon their arrival as they diligently sought to confer with any Jew in the know about the birth and whereabouts of their King.
Indeed, news of the persistent inquiring of the Magi reached the ears of Rome’s appointed king of the Jews, Herod. He and the entire city were disturbed by what these men asserted about the birth of God’s foretold, long awaited King of Israel and Anointed One (Isaiah 9:6-7, 49:1-13, 61:1-3; Jeremiah 23:5-8, 33:14-16). So “troubled” was Herod who understood the foretold King was also the Messiah, he “gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together” and “inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.” They correctly told him, ‘“In Bethlehem of Judea’” and quoted from Bible prophecy to substantiate their answer (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:3-6; Luke 2:1-7, NKJV).2
Still frustrated at not being able to prevent Christ’s birth or kill Him immediately afterward, Satan seized upon Herod’s violent jealousy for his throne to have him deceitfully engage in a scheme to kill Him as soon as he learned His precise location in Bethlehem. “Secretly” summoning the Magi, Herod first determined when “the star appeared” they had seen. This would give him an approximate idea of how old the Child was. Then, he gave the information he had to the Magi and “sent them to Bethlehem” saying, ‘“Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also,’” (Matthew 2:7-8, NKJV).
Departing from Herod, the Magi started for Bethlehem as directed and shortly encountered again “the star which they had seen in the East.” When they saw it, they were filled with “exceedingly great joy” believing what even many professed Christians refuse to that this unique star which first appeared to them in their country then, disappeared, had now, reappeared and actually went ahead of them guiding them to “where the young Child was” because it was supernatural (Matthew 2:9-10, NKJV)! Natural stars do not behave like this. Entering “the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him,” (Matthew 2:11a, NKJV).
Don’t miss that; they fell down on their faces and worshipped Christ! As far as we know from Matthew’s account, none of the Jews from Jerusalem, their chief priests, scribes or Herod joined the Magi in their quest to locate and worship their King.3 Herod only deceitfully suggested he would if the Magi found Him and brought him back word. But these Gentiles came hundreds of miles by faith to worship the King of the Jews and did so; falling prostrate before Him! After this, they “opened their treasures” and “presented gifts to Him,” (Matthew 2:11b, NKJV).4 Warned by God in a dream, they did not go back to Herod, but returned to their own land a different way (Matthew 2:12).
God sent an angel to also warn “Joseph in a dream…” to ‘“take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod (and ultimately Satan behind this evil) will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’” Joseph did as he was told and took his family to Egypt fulfilling a prophecy when they returned after Herod’s death that clearly identifies Christ with His people, “Israel,” (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:13-15, NKJV). Meanwhile, feeling deceived when the Magi did not report back to him, Herod issued an edict to kill “all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old (the uppermost age Christ may have been from the Magi’s timeline) and under,” (Matthew 2:16, NKJV).
The reprehensible deed carried out, Matthew informs us it fulfilled a prophecy given by the prophet Jeremiah centuries before (Matthew 2:17-18, NKJV). Joseph was alerted to Herod’s death by the Lord’s angel in a dream when it occurred not long after his massacre of Bethlehem’s male children two and under. He then brought his family back to Israel from Egypt (Matthew 2:19-21). However, thinking of returning to Judea, he became “afraid” because Herod’s son as treacherous as he sat on his throne. After “being warned by God in” another “dream,” Joseph “turned aside into the region of Galilee” and back to “Nazareth.”5 This is where the young Child grew up into Manhood protected from Satan’s harm by God and His parents (Matthew 2:22-23; Luke 2:41-52, NKJV).
(Thank you for being a reader of the Strong Man Of God Blog in 2022. Lord willing, my next post will be on Sunday, January 8, 2023 when I will continue this current series of instructional posts that began on November 27, 2022. Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you and yours!)
1 How these men came to this conclusion only God knows for sure since scholars debate how much influence interaction with the Jews, their faith and Old Testament
Scriptures had during the years they dwelt among them first as captives in the Medo-Persian Empire, then, voluntarily in large numbers over five centuries (see the book
of Esther and Daniel 5:30-6:2, 28). One thing is certain, God had touched the hearts of these Gentiles deep enough to act on what they understood the star meant
in being willing to make an over nine hundred mile journey for four months minimum not only to lay eyes on this Jewish Child King, but to worship Him (Psalm 117:1).
2 Read the December 11, 2022 Post, Christ Persecuted To His Birth, under the category, Instruction.
3 Like many professed Christian religionists to this day, the Jewish religious leaders and people read and knew what the Bible said, but did not in faith believe and act on it!
4 While their gifts to the young Child were a continuing act of worship, they were also God’s provision for the family to help support them through the difficult days He fore-
knew they were about to experience.
5 Let every professed Christian take due note of the obedience and submission of Joseph to God through all the dreams presented to him. While dreams are easily debat-
able, not God’s Word as it is written and still many refuse to obey and submit! Such ones are not aspiring strong men or great women of God in the image of Christ as I
write about in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics since obedience and submission are character traits God forges in the willing. The book is available at
your favorite internet bookseller or brick and mortar bookstore and the Strong Man Store.
Sometime between the fourth and ninth months of her pregnancy, Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus Christ and her betrothed husband, Joseph, received word of an imperial edict that would require them to leave Nazareth. As Gospel writer, Luke, reports, “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus” Roman Emperor at the time, “that all the world (controlled by the Roman Empire) should be registered,” (Luke 2:1-2, NKJV). Consequently, the couple made their way to a Judean town named Bethlehem. They had to make this seventy to ninety mile trek because as members of the tribe of Judah and descendants of king David, both needed to register there (Luke 2:3-5).
Mary had just traveled to an unnamed “city of Judah” in the first trimester of her pregnancy to visit “Elizabeth,” her “relative” who like her, was the recipient of God’s grace and supernatural power. Elizabeth was enabled to conceive a son by natural means “in her old age.” Their joyous initial interaction is one for the ages (Luke 1:36-56, NKJV)! Now, fully showing in her pregnancy, Mary’s trip to Bethlehem in obedience to the decree of Caesar Augustus with thousands of others from all over Israel would not be as easy. Indeed, it was not intended to be since the inconvenience of the trip was not of God’s perfect, but His permissive will, foreknowledge and prophetic purpose.
Caesar’s census decree at that precise moment in history was of Satan as he continued persecuting and seeking for ways to destroy the unborn Son of God to keep Him from coming into the world!1 A census in and of itself is not evil for the Lord commanded Moses to number Israel as one means to collect an offering to Him designated “for the service of the tabernacle of meeting,” (Exodus 30:11-16, 38:25-26, NKJV). God also commanded Moses to take a census of the males twenty years old and over “who are able to go to war,” (Numbers 1:1-4, NKJV) and did so again after He had punished Israel with a plague that killed thousands (Numbers 25-26:4).
However, it is also written, “Now, Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel,” (1 Chronicles 21:1, NKJV). The king’s motive was the sin of pride for which God punished the nation (1 Chronicles 21:2-17).2 Having the title “Augustus” (meaning “exalted” as one divine), Satan easily moved Caesar in pride not only to know the number of Roman citizens throughout his empire, but non-citizens under subjection to press into his service and tax to finance his ambitions. The Jews chafed under Roman taxation this new census would facilitate and no doubt the burden of traveling to their ancestral regions to register Joseph and Mary now, found themselves doing as well.
Not able to cause the possible destruction of her unborn Son through miscarriage or otherwise during the perilous, untimely journey to Bethlehem, Satan waited in the shadows for an opportunity in the town when the time for Mary’s delivery came (Luke 2:6). The town overflowing with descendants of Judah and David made it very hard to secure a suitable place as the devil anticipated. In the place scholars debate was either a cave, stable or home where animals were sheltered because there was no other room for them, Mary lay in the agony of labor;3 vicariously embodying one of the major purposes of her people, Israel: to be God’s means of bringing His Son into the World (Romans 9:1-5)!
A “great” summary prophetic “sign” the apostle John was later shown affirms the foregoing truth (Revelation 12:1-2, NKJV). “Another sign” in the same prophetic review of messianic history depicts Satan as “a great, fiery red dragon” that “stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born,” (Revelation 12:3-4, NKJV). He was not permitted by God to do so as Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger,” (Luke 2:7; Revelation 12:5a, NKJV). Frustrated yet again, the devil could only look on powerlessly as God sent angels to announce to lowly Jewish shepherds what the nation had been waiting generations for--the birth of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:8-20, NKJV)!
1 Read the December 4, 2022 post, Christ Persecuted Before Birth, under the category, Instruction.
2 As the Lord leads me to address in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, pride is the number one sin of men--saved and unsaved! Our enemy, Satan, knows
just the right recipe of temptations to bring it out of us. Get my book and learn what God has provided for our victory more often than not as aspiring strong men of God in
in the image of Jesus Christ! It is available at your favorite internet bookseller or brick and mortar bookstore and the Strong Man Store.
3 I invite every aspiring great woman of God in the image of Christ to get the Strong Man Of God Audio Resource, Christmas From Eve To Mary to hear three messages the
Lord led me to preach celebrating human femininity as designed by Him! Learn more about this resource, listen to a sample and make your purchase exclusively in the
Strong Man Store.
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