Matthew 2:1-2, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.”
So we read that Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem of Judea while King Herod was ruling over Jerusalem. Immediately Matthew tells us of the famous wise men, or “magi” in the original Greek. He doesn’t tell us how many wise men there are (most people say there are 3 because there are 3 gifts) nor does Matthew tell us exactly where they came from. All we know from the account in Matthew is that there is a group of wise men coming from the East. Why did they come? Verse 2 tells they came asking a question: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” Why did they ask this question? Verse 2 continues with their reason, “For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.”
Now, in order to understand this question and the reasoning behind it we have to look deeper into who the wise men were. Here’s what we know. When Jesus was born they saw a star rise in the East. Like today, not very many people in ancient times normally and habitually watched and noted the behavior and pattern of the stars. People notice them, and maybe even talk about them a little bit. But it was the Astrologers who studied and noted their individual and collective movements in ancient times. It is from this that most throughout history have concluded that the wise men were in fact learned Astrologers: watching, studying, noting, and learning from the patterns displayed in the heavens. Now, think about it. What large, affluent, urban city was east of Jerusalem at that time in history? Every map of this time will lead you to one answer, Babylon. It was large enough and affluent enough to have men within it that could devote their lives to the scholarly occupation of Astronomy.
Therefore, I conclude that the wise men were learned Babylonian Astrologers who knew the heavens like the back of their hand, and when they saw something abnormal occur in the sky, like a star rising over Jerusalem, they not only noticed it, but ran toward it!
This is no small thing. It was near 800 miles between Babylon and Jerusalem. It not only would have taken them a long time to travel that distance, but they would have needed a large group carrying a large number of supplies, and most of all, they would have needed a very good reason for being willing to travel such a distance. So why go? Remember, they were learned men who would have been familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. They knew what was going on, remember they said, “We saw HIS star rising, and have come to worship Him.” For them, the star rising indicated a Person worthy of their worship had come. What led them to believe this? They knew the prophecy written down almost 1600 years earlier found in Numbers 24:17 which says, “I see Him, but not now. I behold Him, but not near. A star shall come out of Jacob, a scepter shall come out of Israel.” You see it? A star will rise? A scepter shall come out of Israel? They saw the star, they knew that only a King could hold a scepter, and they knew He had finally come. So off they went.
That non-Israelite men would journey this even more gospel roots. Long ago, it was spoken of in prophetic visions that “all peoples” and “many nations” would come streaming in to Mount Zion to behold the King on His throne and worship the true God. Both Isaiah and Micah say, “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and they will all say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob…” These wise men remind us that there is only one God, and that this one God is the Christ who was born in Jerusalem. He is the King who reigns, He is the One who made the world and all in it, who desires all tribes, and tongues, and peoples, and nations to come and worship and bask in the light of His infinite glory. Jesus has just been born and already the peoples and the nations are streaming to Him worship!
You know what this means right?
The Kingdom of God is here.
God has come.
The darkness is about to fade.
Light is breaking through.
Dawn is here!