The Magi, wise men from Persia, made a long journey following a star in the sky to find the promised Messiah King of Israel. They knew to look because of a Hebrew prophet named Daniel who was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to be the “chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers” during the 6th century B.C. (Daniel 5:11). Daniel prophesied the doom of Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar’s son King Belshazzar just hours before the Persian army killed the king and took over Babylon (Daniel 5:30-31). God blessed Daniel under the new leadership and he became one of three governors to rule with the new king. Daniel faced tough political enemies, but overcame adversity with God’s protection and ruled with both King Darius the Mede and King Cyrus the Persian.
The Magi knew well what Daniel had seen, done and written as the chief Magi of Babylon and Persia. God showed Daniel great visions of the future of the great world powers. One of those visions concerned 70 weeks that the angel Gabriel explained was 70 weeks of years to accomplish specific things in Israel’s life.
“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.”
Daniel 9:24 (NKJV)
What an amazing list of things God was going to do during the 70 weeks of years (70×7 = 490 years):
- finish the transgression
- make an end of sins
- make a reconciliation for iniquity
- bring in everlasting righteousness
- to seal up vision and prophecy
- anoint the Most Holy
All of these things would be accomplished under the rule of the Messiah of Israel:
“Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
The Magi had done the math and knew it was time for Messiah to appear. They studied the heavens, as astrologers (the earliest astronomers) would do in that situation, and saw the movement of a special star. They saw the signal in the sky that God was on the move and they followed the star to the place where they found the Messiah.
“… and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
The special star “stood over where the young Child was” and the Magi rejoiced with “exceedingly great joy.” They were overwhelmed inside their hearts and minds to know they were eyewitnesses of Daniel’s ancient prophecy. They went into the house, saw the young Child with Mary His mother, then fell down and worshiped Him.
Doesn’t that seem a little strange? Why would Magi from Persia, who had their own king and religion, fall down and worship the prophesied Messiah of Israel? They worshiped Jesus because they knew from Daniel’s prophecy that He was going to become the great ruler of all the world, not just one country.
Remember what we learned yesterday about the Magi? They were “king makers.” When the Magi said a man would become king, he was going to be king. The Magi had a special power in their culture and God used them to pronounce Jesus as the Messiah King of Israel, and because of Daniel’s vision, the King of Kings!
What about the gifts the Magi brought to the young King? Any significance to the gold, frankincense and myrrh? We’ll see tomorrow.