This year, my goal is to read through the Bible again and write a brief post on what I learn from God’s Word as often as possible…hopefully, daily. I created my own reading plan (here); I’m reading the New Testament in January through June, and the Old Testament in the second half of the year. It’s actually fun to come up with your own plan. I love a fresh start, don’t you?
Today’s read was Matthew 1-2, where we discover the lineage of Jesus going back to Abraham (1:1-17), a few details about His birth (1:18-25), and the visit of those three wise men (chapter 2).
Wisemen, or magi, were men who studied science, astronomy, and astrology. Humans have always been curious about the world they live in, and God has gifted men and women throughout the ages with the insight and skills to discover new things and make observations about what they see. God set the stars in place 4,000 years before Jesus was born, expressly for signs and seasons. They are His calendar; each planet and star held in orbit by His creative power and personally named by Him (Genesis 1:14-19; Psalm 147:4). There are many theories about what exactly the “star of Bethlehem” was (a very bright star, a specific constellation or meeting of planets, etc.) but whatever it was, God pre-ordained it and set it in motion so that in the “fullness of time” it would appear at the exact time and place to announce the birth of the Messiah, God’s Son. He then gave the wise men the curiosity to anticipate, discover, and follow the appearance of the star, and connect it to the prophecies about the coming Messiah. God’s details are amazing, and He goes to great lengths to reveal Himself and His plans to those willing to seek Him.
Two observations about this story. First, we don’t know that the wise men became true believers or followers of Christ, but they did have the common sense and presence of mind to embrace the truth that there is a God, and He is powerful enough to rule the stars, to prophesy His plans through men, and to bring those prophecies to fulfillment. In contrast, today’s secular scientists work very hard to dismiss the idea of God, and instead, make themselves the highest creation and ruler of their own destinies. How foolish we are to attempt to exclude God and the infallible scriptures, and instead, make “science” our god. God invented science and there is no scientific discovery outside of Him!
Second, Herod’s actions…lying to the magi to appear interested in worshipping the Messiah; attempting to rule over them by commanding them to return and report (he had no authority over a foreign national); and most appalling of all, ordering all male babies under age two be killed, fearing his position and power were threatened by the birth of a new king. People in power who do not fear God will do unspeakable things to retain their power and position. They have no qualms about doing what is immoral or unthinkable if it serves them. The spirit of Herod is abundantly evident in the man-made governments we live under today, because ultimately it is a Satanic spirit, desiring only to steal, kill, and destroy.
Here’s the takeaway. When we include God and give Him His rightful place as we discover and live in the world He created, we arrive at the feet of Jesus as true worshippers. We get to witness miracles. We are protected by His sovereign power and led by His Spirit (and even His messengers, the angels). We are able to recognize the difference between a lie and the truth. And we will go home with great joy.
Conversely, when we hold onto our own power and position and kick God out of the picture, we end up like Herod – making foolish decisions and immoral choices that we never imagined we’d make. In the end, Herod will bow before the King he tried to kill and be judged for his evil actions. Imagining we can exclude God from His own world is irrational and reckless, always leading to pain and suffering, and ultimately, eternal separation and spiritual death.
How about us? Do we include God in every aspect of our lives, or do we compartmentalize Him with the idea that there are “religious” things and “non-religious” things that don’t concern Him? Don’t be fooled. The only way to truly worship God is to embrace His presence, His power, and His purposes in every single part of our lives. That’s what wise men do.
Psalm 14:1 – The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.