Thursday, September 26, 2013

Matthew 2

Matthew 2:1-12 – The Magi Visit Baby Jesus

Jesus was born in Bethlehem during the time of King Herod.  The Magi or Wise Men heard about the Christ child and saw His star and wanted to go and worship Him.  They inquired if anyone had seen the king of the Jews.  When Herod heard this, he was disturbed and jealous thinking he might lose his throne.  He deceived the Magi telling them he wanted to worship Him, too and told them when they found this king of the Jews; they were to report back to him.
The Magi continued following the star and when it stopped over the place where the child was, they bowed down and worshipped Him and presented Him with gifts.  They were warned in a dream not to go back the Herod so they returned home another way.

Who were these Wise Men?  They were Persian priests.  They studied philosophy, medicine and astronomy.  They knew the prophecy of the star and were prepared to follow it when it appeared. God probably gave them the desire to seek Him and lead them to the truth of who Jesus was.  They responded and were obedient to the light of the star.  They chose to follow the light.   

There are several groups of people mentioned, but they responded in different ways to the birth of Jesus:
Herod and all of Jerusalem – All were disturbed by this King of the Jews.  Herod wanted to be in control and was jealous and threaten by Him.
Magi – They were overjoyed of His birth and went to worship Him presenting Him with expensive gifts.  Being warned in a dream to return home another way, they listened and obeyed God’s instructions.
Priests and TeachersThey were very religious on the outside, but their hearts were far from God.  They ignored the news of the promised Messiah and made no attempt to go with the Magi to see and worship Him.  To ignore Him is to rebel against Him.

There were many wise people in the Bible and there are many in the world today.  God is looking for wise men who will imitate the qualities of the wise men of Matthew 2.  They came to worship the newborn King.  We should have the same attitude.  He is our Lord, Redeemer and friend.  Following the true light results in a personal relationship with Jesus, guidance from God, and a life of joy.

Which group do you identify with?
How wise are you? 
Do you choose to follow the light of Jesus? 
Do you know who Jesus is? 
Do you ignore Him and make no attempt to worship Him?

Micah 5:2 speaks of Christ’s prophesied deity, humanity, and kingship.  “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old from ancient times.”  Ruth 4: 11-13, 18-22 and 1 Samuel 16:1-13 link Bethlehem with Christ’s great ancestor David.  Bethlehem was David’s home town and Samuel came there to anoint David.

Matthew 2:13-23 – The Escape and Return

When Herod found out that the Magi had outwitted him, he ordered all the baby boys under 2 years old to be killed thinking the baby Jesus would surely be killed.  An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him to take his family and escape to Egypt.

The antagonism shown in Matt. 2:16 is repeated all through the life of Christ.  In Luke 20 the teachers and priests were always trying to trap Him with questions.  He was despised and then arrested and put to death.  Matt. 26 the chief priest and elders plotted against Him.  He was arrested.  His own disciples fled and said they didn’t know Him.  John 1:11“He came to that which was His own, but his own did not receive Him”. John 10:31“Again the Jews picked up stone to stone”. 

Knowing that Jesus came from a despised and an unexpected place encourages us that if Jesus could suffer so much, surely we can suffer a little.  Our suffering is very small compared to His.  God will be there with us no matter what, just as He was there with Jesus.

We believers are often antagonized and ridiculed because of our relations with Christ.  People question our faith.  They reject and persecute us for our beliefs.  Christians even die for their beliefs.  Many countries today kill and persecute Christian.  The USA seems to be on a path with our religious freedoms being tested daily.

Here are some maps of the countries where this is happening.  

The Top 10 Countries where Christians are persecuted are:

  1.  North Korea
  2.  Saudi Arabia
  3.  Afghanistan
  4.  Iraq
  5.  Somalia
  6.  Maldives
  7.  Mali
  8.  Iran
  9.  Yemen
10.  Eritrea

God spoke spoken in dreams in the Old and New Testaments.  He spoke of warnings, instructions, and announcements.  Now more often, He speaks to us through His Word and His Holy Spirit guides us.

There are a lot of lessons in Matthew:
We are to worship Him – The Magi bowed before Him.  They had no problem getting down on their knees.  They gave Him their best gifts.  They were focused on Him.
God takes care of His own – God protected Joseph, Mary, and Jesus and He will protect us, too.  He warned them to leave when they were in danger.  He warned the Magi not to go back to Herod.  He provided for Him with the Magi gifts.
We are to listen and be obedient to His voice – He spoke to Joseph with a warnings of danger and Joseph obeyed.  He spoke with a warning to the Magi and they obeyed.  If we do what He asks, He will do what’s best for us.   He will guide and protect us, if we listen and obey Him.

What much time to you spend worshipping God in prayer and Bible study?
Is there something He has told you to do and have you obeyed?
Are you listening when He speaks to you?
Why is it so hard to study and understand the Bible?  If it was easy, we would not value it so much.  Don’t give up.  There is nothing better you can do than spending time in God’s Word.

In Psalm 91 there are conditions under which the Lord promises to take care of His own:
If we make Him more important than anyone else and put Him first, we will rest in God who is more powerful than anyone else.
If we make Him our Lord, He will be our refuge and no harm will come to us.
If we trust Him, He will protect us from illness and evil spirits.
If we acknowledge His name, He will protect us.
If we love Him, He will rescue us.
If we call upon Him, He will answer.  He will be with us in trouble.  He will deliver us.  He will be our salvation.

Mary trusted God when she was with Child.  Joseph trusted God when he took Mary as his wife, when God warned him to flee Egypt and again when they left to go to Nazareth.  The Magi trusted God when they were warned to go home another way.

Do you trust God to take care of you?
How does He take care of you?
Are you certain that you are in God’s will?

Jesus always reveals Himself to those who truly seek Him.
Encountering Jesus Christ in true worship brings joy and a godly perspective.
God guides and protect His offspring.
Being identified with Christ may result in persecution.
Obedience to God’s direction is our greatest protection.

Next week my post will be on Matthew 3.  Hope to see you here.

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