Okay, I know I said the study about the Magi was finished yesterday … but I need to say just one more thing about it.
I’ve heard people say that the story of the Magi bringing gifts to Jesus should not have been included in the Bible. Their reasoning is that the Magi were members of a false religion (Zoroastrianism) and God would have never used someone from a false religion to be involved with Israel’s Messiah.
First, it’s a little late to be second-guessing God about His Word. Even though many people are still arguing about what is and is not God’s Word, the Holy Spirit (who inspired every word of God’s Word) put His stamp of approval on His Bible centuries ago.
Second, God has used members of false religions to do His will. Remember Egypt’s pharaoh? He worshiped many false gods, but the True God of Heaven hardened pharaoh’s heart so that Israel would see that He was greater than all the gods of Egypt. Remember Baalam? He was an Ammonite who intended to curse Israel, but God turned Baalam’s curses into blessings. Remember Nebuchadnezzar? He was a pagan king who worshiped idols, but God humbled Nebuchadnezzar and changed his heart to praise the True God of Heaven. God can and does use anyone He wants to for his purposes.
Third, the Magi had been deeply influenced by the Hebrew prophet Daniel. As we saw in our earlier studies, the armies of Babylon took Daniel and other young Israelites captive. King Nebuchadnezzar saw first-hand the power of God in Daniel’s life: “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.” (Daniel 1:20) Daniel became the chief Magi of the royal Babylonian court through the supernatural powers God gave him and was a trusted advisor to King Nebuchadnezzar from the end of the 7th century B.C. to the middle of the 6th century B.C. Daniel was also the chief Magi during the reign of other kings until his death. Writings about the Magi began in the 5th century B.C. Many scholars believe Daniel was the first chief Magi and passed along his wisdom to his students who taught their students and passed along the teachings of Daniel for hundreds of years.
The Magi who visited Jesus knew well the Hebrew prophecies about Israel’s Messiah and brought the news to Israel’s king:
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.”
Fourth, it’s obvious from Scripture that God was personally involved in the Magi’s mission:
“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. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Notice what God’s Word says about the Magi: “Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” God warned the Magi not to return to Jerusalem to tell Herod what they had found, so they returned to their country by another route.
God did use the Gentile Magi for His amazing purpose.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,