Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Third of Advent 2015 - Wealthy Wise Men Traveling Far

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo DSCF7435_zpsybw480nh.jpg
The Third of Advent 2015 - Wealthy Wise Men Traveling Far

Two weeks ago we studied the basics of the "Nativity" and last week: "The Lowly Life of the Shepherd".  I'm sure that you can guess the topic for this week? - Yes, the three wise men.  We will try to clear up some of they myths - were they really kings?  Why gold, frankincense and myrrh?  How far did they have to travel?

Again, I am not a Biblical Historian so I did my research online and retrieved this information mainly from Wikipedia, The Institute for Creation Research and

photo DSCF7477_zps8er1rzar.jpg

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 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.' When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 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. 'In Bethlehem in Judea' they replied, 'for this is what the prophet has written: 
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.'
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 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.' 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. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with this 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. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." 

Matthew 2: 1 - 12

1.  Were the three Wise Men (or Magi) really kings?
The simple answer is "No".  The "Magi" or Wise Men were wealthy scholars most likely studying astrology, which is why the Star of Bethlehem caught their eye immediately.  On one of my nativity scene's the name of each wise man is listed on their box.  These are the names listed for the wise men: Balthazar, Kaspar and Melchior.  However, according to my research, none of these names are mentioned in the Bible.  What we know for sure is that they were wise, wealthy and respected.    

2.  How far did the Wise Men have to travel?  
First we would need to know where they came from - where was their homeland?  Many of the research that I read gave an educated guess that they were either from India, Persia or China.  Since they traveled by camel it is estimated that it would have taken them about 2 or 3 months to reach Bethlehem.  This also proves that they would NOT have been there for the birth of Jesus.  Even in the verses above Jesus is referred to as a "child" and not a "baby".  So, it was also estimated that Jesus would have been about two years old when the wise men arrived.  This is also amazing to me because that means that the star of Bethlehem shone during all that time! 

3.  Why gold, frankincense and myrrh?  
Gold is an obvious one - gold has always been valuable, even in Biblical times.  I did find one article that stated that these three (gold, frankincense and myrrh) were common gifts for a king.  Jesus is the King of the Jews so that would make perfect sense.  I also read an interesting fact about frankincense and myrrh - they come from the Boswellia and Commiphora trees.  They are very fragrant but they were also used as an anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic, which would have helped against leprosy and other diseases at the time.  These really were precious gifts. 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo DSCF7478_zpsethp6bsl.jpg 

Let's think about this in modern terms - let's say that these were wealthy businessmen traveling together.  This would have been a huge commitment to visit Jesus.  It would have cost them their time ("time is money"), travel expenses and the possible ridicule from their peers.  This was a huge step of faith and God protected them.  They avoided returning home the same way that they came to evade Herod - they most certainly would have been killed if they had traveled the same way home (see verse 12 above) 

Jesus was born, died on the cross and rose again for everyone!  This includes all classes of people both rich and poor!  All you have to do is accept this gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior & you will have eternal life!

The Third of Advent from previous years:

(click on the titles below to view previous Third of Advent posts on this blog)
2012 - Away In a Manger
2013 - Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
2014 - Three Hymns Including The First Noel


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