Originally published Monday, 22 December 2014.
Sometimes we are called to step out in faith into uncharted territory--into places or platforms that are novel and, most likely, nerve-wracking. Often we go with faith in God's calling. Occasionally, with great evidence of His will; while other moments come with more subtle assurance in the still, small voice of God guiding us.
The shepherds were overwhelmed with immediate, miraculous indications that they had a short journey to make and an ultimate treasure to find. The wise men followed the star without the certainty of visible angels guiding their steps. How did the wise men know to look for and follow the star? Why would they pack up and leave their home in search of a King?
The wise men were Magi, or Magio in the Greek. This is where the English word, magic, is derived from. The Magi were men of great knowledge and study, particularly in the field of astronomy. The Magi originated in Media and later Babylonia, Persia, Arabia, and India. They were considered a priestly caste of advisers to the nobles and rulers of those lands.
According to this article from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR, see here), there is an ancient tradition that Balaam, the prophet from Mesopotamia was an early member of the Magi. Perhaps you are most familiar with Balaam as the prophet reprimanded and spared by a talking donkey. (See Numbers 22:22-30) Well, Balaam also prophesied the coming Messiah would be accompanied in this way:
a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel. (Numbers 24:17)
Add to Balaam, the influence of Daniel, Mordecai, and Esther, to name a few, in the provinces of Babylonia and Persia and you have both Jews and Magi who took as their own, the God of the Jews, looking for a coming Messiah as foretold by His star rising in the sky.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, KJV)
The Magi set out to find the Christ-child with as much evidence as the shepherds who heard the angels singing. They studied the patterns of the stars spoken into being. Their study and understanding of astronomy pointed them to the newborn-king when, as foretold, His star arose in the heavens. The evidence of things hoped for was at last present and the Magi were prepared to recognize the evidence and obey.
How are we preparing for our homeland of Heaven this season of our lives?
In what way are we prepared to see the evidence of Jesus and His return and react in obedience as disciple-makers?
How are we prepared to defend the evidence of the Creator God in a world full of agnostic and atheistic teachings heralded as the truth of intellectually inclined individuals?
The Magi who celebrated the Messiah were acting on the evidence of their faith. Indeed, they were acting in faith with the understanding of the stars in the sky. Those same stars which God had promised Abraham that his decedents would be more numerous than. The same starry sky that continues to proclaim evidence of a Creator.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3, ESV)
The shepherds went in search of the King on the testimony of angels; the wise men on the fulfillment of prophecy. For us there is both. We must press on to live for the Homeland and point others to the King.