The Gifts of the Magi

A mainstay of Christmas plays and pageants are the Three Wise Men. As the readers of my lessons know, they were wise, but we do not know how many there were. The number three is based upon the number of gifts given to Jesus.

It is presumed that these men were Parthians, politically powerful leaders from the East. Their journey is a remarkable story. They came hundreds of miles, following the star provided for them by the Lord. Being influential men, they probably traveled in a large caravan, not just three guys on camels. There would have been aides, servants and a military escort. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they caused quite a stir! (Matthew 2:3)

One of my favorite parts of this story is the question these influential men asked Herod when they saw him, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?” Herod was called king, but was really a political appointee through bribes. He was not even a Jew. Herod was an Edomite.

The Parthians presented three gifts to Jesus; gold, frankincense and myrrh. These valuable gifts were highly symbolic and prophetic; gold, a gift to Jesus as King; frankincense, a symbolic gift to Jesus as Priest; myrrh, a gift to Jesus foreshadowing His death. (Myrrh was used in the preparation of bodies for burial.) Undoubtedly, these gifts were very helpful to Joseph and Mary when they fled to Egypt to protect the baby Jesus.

It is possible that Joseph and Mary had to remain in Egypt for a year or longer. The gifts would have provided living expenses. History tells us that Herod died in 4 B.C. If Jesus was born in 5 B.C., they would have lived in Egypt for at least a year.

Here is how that date is calculated: At Passover of the Spring after Jesus began His ministry at age thirty, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Of course, He was referring to His body. But the Jews exclaimed, “Forty and six years was this temple in building.” (John 2:13-21) We know from history that Herod began his remodeling of the Temple in 20 B.C. Therefore, forty-six years later was 26 A.D. Jesus began His ministry at age 30 in the Fall of 25 A.D. (Luke 3:23) From the Fall of 5 B.C. to the Fall of 25 A.D. is 30 years. Mathematics then tells us that Jesus was born 5 B.C.

The entirety of Isaiah chapter 60 is about the glory of Israel during the Kingdom Age. What a wonderful picture the prophet gives us! Of course, Jesus will rule during this time as King of kings and Lord of lords. “ . . . they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.” (Isaiah 60:6) Gold and incense are brought to Jerusalem to show praises to the Lord. But there is no myrrh. Jesus is and will be King and Priest, therefore the gold and incense. But He will never die again. There will be no need for the myrrh.

How I look forward to the day when King Jesus rules on earth. Satan will be locked up and, I presume, his demonic assistants. The wonderful angels of the Lord that watch over us will have rest. There will be peace. Glory to God! Praise His wonderful name.

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