(Introduction to Week 2 - The Bethlehem Candle)
Bethlehem was a small place; even God says so in the book of Micah. God foretold His people where their Messiah would come from 700 years before God sent His Son Jesus, the Messiah. In the book of Micah, God foretells His people that a ruler of Israel, whose roots go way back, would come from Bethlehem. Sometimes God calls us to seemingly small tasks or insignificant places. But let us be obedient, as Jesus was to the Father, and allow God to use us wherever and however—always trusting that He knows best. There is never anything insignificant about God’s will in our lives!
(Matthew 2: 1-12)
In this passage, we find the Wise Men coming to Jerusalem in their pursuit of the exact location of the One they knew had been foretold to be the King of the Jews. They were most likely astrologists and great scientists of their day, but they lacked the knowledge of what the Holy Scriptures said about the actual birthplace of this king foretold from days of old. They had recognized His Star from the East and they acted upon what they knew concerning the prophecies of this newborn king. With the knowledge they had and with a quest for more understanding of the Holy Scriptures, they set out to honor and receive the Messiah King! What an example of active faith these Wise Men give us today! We don’t have to know everything about God or understand all the Scriptures before we decide to follow Him. We simply must act upon what we do know, and He will guide us the rest of the way!
The Wise Men had stopped in the largest city closest to the star they were following, and asked King Herod if he knew where they could find this new king. King Herod sent for the priests and the teachers of the Jewish law to find out more about this new arrival of a king for the Jews. The priests and the teachers knew exactly what the Wise Men were referring to and even quoted the prophecy recorded in Micah chapter 5 (700 years before hand)! They explained that a ruler would come from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. He would shepherd the people of Israel and His people would return from exile into their own land. King Herod was obviously threatened by this prophecy, as he instructed the Wise Men to let him know if they found this newborn king. But the Wise Men were smarter than that. They simply went on their way and never came back through Jerusalem!
The saddest part of this passage is that the priests and the teachers, being Jews themselves—and in full knowledge of the scriptures, did not go with the Wise Men to receive their new King. Unlike the Wise Men, these scholars knew of the Scriptures, but they did not act upon them. By not going to receive their prophesied king, they had rejected God’s gift of His Holy Son right from the beginning! How tragic for us today, if we—like these priests and teachers—know of God’s Word and the message of salvation, but do not act upon what we know! Let this be a lesson to us: that knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus.
To find the good gifts only God can give us, we must be willing to follow what we do know about God, seek the Scriptures to lead us in our lives, and receive God’s Son as our king. The Wise Men brought Jesus their best gifts; but Jesus brought the Wise Men the greater gifts: joy, peace, goodwill, hope, and most importantly—a place in Heaven for all eternity!
Search your hearts and ask yourself, “Which group of people do I most identify with?”
1.) King Herod, feeling threatened by a power greater than himself?
2.) The Priests and the Teachers of the Jews who knew about their new king but did nothing with the knowledge they had been given?
3.) Or the Wise Men: actively following what they knew to be true, seeking after the One the Ancient Scriptures foretold of, and then going to Him in an attitude of reverence and worship with gifts as a sign of their faith?
Now is a good time to read or sing together the words to the worship song:
Come Let Us Worship and Bow Down:
Come let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the Lord, our God, our Maker.
Come let us worship and bow down
Let us kneel before the Lord, our God, and our Maker.
For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of his hand, and the sheep of his Hand.