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Friday, December 16, 2011

The Babe in Bethlehem and The Gifts of the Wise Men – By: Henry Morris

The Babe in Bethlehem:
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
          This is a very remarkable prophecy, explicitly predicting that the future King of Israel would be born in the little village of Bethlehem some 700 years before He finally came.  Then, to assure its fulfillment, the great Emperor Augustus had to decree a comprehensive census, compelling Joseph to take Mary with him to Bethlehem for her child to be born.
          That the prophecy involves an actual birth is clear, not only from the phrase “come forth,” but also from the succeeding verse which warns that God will “give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth” (v. 3).  The preceding verse had also predicted that “they shall smite [this coming ruler] the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek” (v. 1), speaking of His initial rejection and execution.
          But that is not all.  The prophecy not only foresees His birth in Bethlehem, His repudiation by His own people, and His eventual installation as King over all Israel (not merely Judah), but also that this same remarkable person was none other than God Himself!  His “goings forth” had been “from everlasting.”  That is, He is eternally proceeding forth from His Father.  He did not become God’s Son when He was born in Bethlehem; He has been coming forth eternally.
          There is still another truth implied in the remarkable Hebrew word for “goings forth.”  It is also used for such things as the flowing of water from a fountain or the radiations from the sun.  Thus, the never-ending flowing forth of power from God through the Son is nothing less than the sustaining energy for the whole creation, as He is “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).  And this was the Babe in Bethlehem!
The Gifts of the Wise Men:
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother; and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
          These wise men (or Magi) were of great eminence in the Parthian Empire at that time, and it is unlikely that the caravan from the East consisted of only three men.  They more likely had a large entourage as they came searching for the future King of Israel, so it was small wonder that “all Jerusalem” was “troubled,” along with King Herod (Matthew 2:3).  The Parthians (i.e., Persians) had never been conquered by the Romans and at that very time were posing a significant threat along the eastern boundary of the extended Roman Empire.
          When they found the young child and His mother in Bethlehem, the Magi “fell down, and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11).  But why did they offer Him just three gifts – and why these three gifts?  Somehow they seemed to have sensed, possibly from meditating deeply on the ancient prophecies of Balaam (Numbers 24:17), Daniel (in Daniel 9:24-26), and David, concerning the priesthood order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4) that this young child whose birth had been announced by a star was destined not only to be the King but would also become the Messianic Sacrifice to “make reconciliation for iniquity” (see Daniel 9:24, 26) and then eventually become our eternal High Priest who “ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).  Thus, the gold would acknowledge His right to reign, the frankincense would speak of the incense to be offered in the heavenly tabernacle, and the myrrh (John 19:39) would testify that His crucified body would be so anointed as it entered the tomb for a very temporary burial.
Taken from the, Days of Praise devotional – Saturday, December 24, and Sunday, December 25, 2011 – By: Henry Morris
Log onto www.icr.org or call 1-800-337-0375 for a free copy of the Days of Praise daily devotional.


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