Christmas is a time for great rejoicing and celebration. It reminds us there are more important things in life that we should focus on every day. With that increased spiritual focus come many questions. Any time our minds turn to heavenly things, questions must naturally follow. Today, in particular, we’re going to focus on the wise men.
I love questions. I love the chance to talk with people and help deepen their faith. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask them. Ask every question you have, earnestly and honestly seeking for truth. As I tell my children, if all we want is the truth, then we don’t have to fear any answers.
I want us to answer a question I always get every year: “Why did the wise men come to see Jesus?”
The short answer is because they wanted to. We typically want a longer answer, so let’s open the Bible and see what we can find.
Our first question automatically leads us to others:
1. Who were the wise men?
2. How many magi were there?
3. Why did they bring gifts?
4.How did they know to follow the star?
5. What was the star?
Did the Wise Men See an Angel?
Right now, we’re going to focus on the wise men. We’ll just start with the list of questions, beginning with the original, and answer them as best we can.
The wise men came to see Jesus because they heard of someone “born king of the Jews.” How did they hear about him? You may be thinking God could have just sent an angel to tell them. That’s certainly possible. Angels are showing up all over the place around the birth of Jesus. However, there are other, Biblical alternatives to summoning heavenly messengers.
The wise men were probably advisors or government officials from an eastern kingdom. Daniel served as a wise man to both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius while Israel was in captivity. It was during Israel’s captivity that Daniel wrote the book bearing his name.
Did the Wise Men Know Daniel?
In chapter 12 of his book, God tells Daniel to “shut up and seal the words of the book.” If this was a reference to his prophetic writings, he didn’t do a great job of keeping a lid on it. God probably gave Daniel some “unpublished revelation” which he stored in the eastern kingdoms until the right time.
The right time is called “the time of the end” (Daniel 12.4). What is that time? Well, many people take it to mean the end of all things. It could be. The Bible certainly seems to talk about the end of the universe in other places. But what did the Biblical writers think?
Peter called the “last days” the beginning of the New Covenant (Acts 2.17). That’s odd. How could the “last days” be at the beginning of the New Covenant? Our problem is that we always assume Biblical prophecy is about us; it isn’t. The prophecy of the “last days” concerned the ending of the old, physical covenant. So, Daniel’s “sealed book” would be opened around Jesus’ birth – the beginning of the last days.
The Prophets Led the Wise Men
It seems like a real possibility that Daniel wrote about the birth of Jesus and all sorts of other things, sealed it in a book, and left it for other wise men in the east. When they noticed specific signs taking place, they opened Daniel’s writings and were led to Jerusalem to find “the one born king of the Jews.”
Is this the only possible explanation? Certainly not. But it ties together the Old and New Testament writings very nicely. It brings both Jews and Gentiles together at the birth of Jesus through God’s revealed will. To use a very appropriate picture, it wraps up everything and puts a bow on top.
Make sure to come back as we look at some more questions about the wise men.