T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S
IV. G od ' s P rotecting L ove (9-12)
doubtless were men of rank and wealth and learning, familiar with various sciences. They formed the king’s privy council. Their earnestness of purpose is revealed by the long and hard journey they under took in the face of tremendous difficulties. With the little light they had, in comparison to the brilliance of the gospel light the world now enjoys, they showed their wis dom by humbly seeking the new-born King —the One who came from God. II. G od ’ s R e je c t e d L ove (3-6) Herod, the usurper, was troubled by the question of the wise men because he feared losing his position, and the people were troubled because they feared a disturbance that might bring extra burdens upon them from the Roman government. But, primar ily, Herod and the people were troubled be cause of their sin, for they instinctively felt that Holiness had come into the world as well as a King. Herod gathered the chief priests and scribes together and demanded of them where the Christ should be bom (cf. v. 4, R. V .). The Christ was Messiah, and Mes siah was the King of the Jews. Herod was an Idumean, from Edom, a descendant of Esau, hence a usurper on the throne; and now he was hearing of One with birth rights to that throne, one “bom King of the Jews.” The scribes and priests were at no loss to answer the king’s question. They were familiar with the Scriptures, and at once they replied: “In Bethlehem of Judea.” They knew the place and purpose of the Redeemer’s birth. But with all their knowl edge, they did nothing about it so far as their own faith was concerned. “The letter killeth” (2 Cor. 3:6), declares the Holy Spirit, proving that it is a dangerous thing to know the Scriptures and refuse to allow those Scriptures to govern one’s life and conduct. III. G od ’ s L ove D espised (7, 8) The love of God as manifested in sending His Son was despised, because it threat ened to remove from man a place of tem porary power and influence. Herod’s ha tred was hidden under fair speech. He professed to desire to worship the new born King. But his speech was a lie, which although unknown to the wise men, was known to God (cf. vs. 16-18). Herod de sired to get rid of Christ, as many another man has. But though he could escape the presence of Christ for a few years, Herod will yet stand before Him and answer for the lie he told, and for the hatred he showed as he rejected God’s revealed love. BLACKBOARD LESSON
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All the preconceived ideas of the wise men must have been upset when they found the One whom they sought situated in un- kingly circumstances. But their faith rose above external things, and they saw the liv ing God in the Babe of Bethlehem. And there and then they bowed and worshiped with their gifts, and their homage. The star which they had seen in the East had appeared to them again at Jerusalem and had led them to the Babe. The star had disappeared after setting the wise men on their way: hence they went to the "city of the great king," the place where they would suppose the King would be bom. They were allowed by God thus to go to Jerusa lem in order that the usurper and the people might be tested by their visit. After that, the star led them to the Babe Himself. Later, they were warned by God to go home another way instead of returning to Herod. Having found the Babe, they had found the true and living God, and thus became the objects of fellowship with and instruction of that God. This is usually the Lord’s method with His followers. They are required to follow the light that is given, and then further light is given as they pro gress. The love of God is still manifest in that He is eager to give His only begotten Son to all who will receive Him. W e should not allow this Christmas season to pass without our pressing definitely and individ ually upon each pupil the imperative need of accepting this great Gift of the love of God. Points and Problems 1. “Jesus was bom in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king” (Matt. 2:1). One of the most satisfying things about Christianity is its concrete his torical character. Most religions are vague and uncertain as to beginnings. But the further we go toward the origin of our faith, the clearer the outlines appear. The writers do not hesitate to give dates, speci fy places, and name names. They are his torians, not inventors of fables. 2. "There came wise men from the east” (v. 1). If the suggestion of the Greek word is followed, it is certain that these men were Magi, a class of men well known in the writings of Daniel. And since Daniel, known for his zeal, was installed for many years as the chief of these ancient scholars (Dan. 2:48), it is perfectly logical to be lieve that a knowledge of Messianic proph ecy should have been spread among the Magi, and thus was handed down to the generation living when our Lord was bom. 3. “He demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is writ* ten by the prophet” (vs. 4, 5 ). The chief priests and scribes of that day were not always an admirable crowd, but they at least had the good sense to believe in the possibility of predictive prophecy, and also in its literal interpretation. When Herod asked where the Messiah was to be bom, they answered without hesitation, “In Bethlehem . . . for thus it is written.” And
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