Matthew 2:1 – After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?”
The magi were known as “wise men” from Persia. They were like the magicians or astrologers of the Prophet Daniel’s time. These men were guided by a star in the east toward Jerusalem. They suddenly appeared in the days of Herod the Great, inquiring for the new-born king of the Jews, whom they had come to worship.
The role of the star in Matthew 2 suggests a connection with astrology. These astrologers, pursuing their observations of the stars in the heavens, encountered a sign of God (Matt 24:29-30). God broke through their misguided system to make the great event known. The joy, rejoicing, worship, and gifts which mark the response of these wise men to the birth of Jesus is quite a contrast to the troubled state and murderous intent of Herod and his Jewish advisers in Jerusalem (Matt 2:1-12). (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
Why should the new star lead these wise men to look for a king of the Jews? Of all nations in the world, these wise men from Persia were more like the Jews, in their religion. They believed in one God, they had no idols; they worshipped light as the best symbol of God. Everywhere throughout the East, men were looking for the advent of a great king who was to rise from among the Jews. It had fermented in the minds of heathen as well as Jews, and would have led them to welcome Jesus as the Christ, had he come in accordance with their expectation. Virgil, who lived a little before this, wrote that a child from heaven was looked for, who should restore the golden age and take away sin. This expectation arose largely from the dispersion of the Jews among all nations. They carried with them the hope and the promise of a divine Redeemer. Daniel was a prince and chief among this very class of wise men. His prophecies were made known to them. The calculations by which he pointed to the very time when Christ should be born became, through the book of Daniel, a part of their ancient literature. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)
Isn’t our God good? He prepared the entire world for the advent of our Savior, who is King of kings and Lord of lords. As we celebrate His first advent of 2,000 years ago, let us not forget His Second Advent is before us. The Lord is even now preparing the modern world for the next greatest event in all of history, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in bodily form to receive His redeemed people and judge all who have rejected His gracious offer of salvation and eternal life.
Celebrate the newborn King as the magi did, but keep your eyes on the east as they were doing, for He is coming again with great glory and triumph! The Holy Spirit not only witnesses in us the reality of His first coming and redemptive work, but also His return for His saints and the final judgment of systems that have rejected Him from the beginning of man, including the devil and all his angels.
Father, I thank You for the record of the magi who were also seeking the promised King. Thank You that today, as then, there is a hope growing in the earth for the return of King Jesus. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might be a strong witness of Your first coming that provided salvation, and of Your glorious return in Your chosen timing.