Wise Men Still Come
Atheistic scientists like Richard Dawkins write popular books and preach sermons about reason and openness. They imply that anyone who believes in God or His Son is on the side of ignorance, closed-mindedness, and superstition. Theistic scientists like Francis Collins who mapped the human genome and Alister McGrath counter the anti-God arguments.
Personally, I have found that the debate is not about cold objective facts versus fairy tales. It's about whether or not we will have an open heart to the revelation God gives us in nature and in His Word. And as we have seen in the case of Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth, the Lord loves to surprise us with unexpected believers.
In the Jewish Scriptures "wise men" usually play the role of the "bad guy." From the Egyptian wise men countering Moses and Aaron in the Exodus story to the wise men opposing Daniel during the Babylonian captivity, Gentile wise men are usually not on the side of the angels. So when Matthew introduces wise men from the East into his story about what happened the next couple of years after Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, my initial reaction is that these men will be up to no good. But the tax collector loves to surprise us.
"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? Because we have seen his star in the east, and we have come to worship him.’" Matthew 2:2
The Jewish Scriptures predicted that "a star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Jacob..." (Numbers 24:17) and Daniel in Babylon predicted that God's anointed would come 483 years after the decree that allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild its fortifications (Daniel 9:25).
Whether or not the wise men in Matthew's account knew these Jewish prophesies, Matthew doesn't tell us. He does tell us that they responded to the star they saw in their sky. They followed it to Israel and eventually to the house where Mary and Jesus were now living. Before Jesus, the Messiah, they bowed down and gave him their gifts--gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew doesn't give us the scientific astronomical configuration that triggered the wise men's journey. He implies that it wasn't some blazing light because if this were true, why would Herod need the wise men's report to figure out where the Messiah was living?
The wise men saw the directing star and followed. Herod and the religious leaders in Jerusalem didn't. The difference? What is actually going on deep within and what we decide to do with what God is seeking to tell us about his Son Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank you that though you don't call many wise, you do call some. Thank you for scientists who are discovering wonderful things in your natural world that can help us overcome diseases like Ebola and provide us with the Internet so that so many of us can interact together about what Matthew is teaching us about Jesus today. Give us open, giving, worshiping hearts and like the wise men that knelt before you in the days of Herod, help us to kneel today.
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