The Christmas Story Is So Weird

What Can We Learn From It?
 
During this Advent month, we are looking at certain themes as we prepare our hearts for Christmas. We started with the Magi, a.k.a. the Wise Men. We can learn some pretty amazing things about God’s hand across history.
 
Let’s start by going right to the Bible. Forget what you see in Nativity scenes and Christmas cards. According to the Gospel accounts, the Magi weren’t even at the stable. They showed up a few years later, when baby Jesus was more like toddler Jesus. Also, although there were three gifts, Scripture doesn’t state how many magi there were. Considering who they were and the high value of the gifts they brought, there was likely an entire political envoy. You do have to read between the lines a bit to understand the Bible from its proper context.
 
This is what we can extrapolate about the Magi based on what we know about history, archeology, and Biblical language. They were high officials and learned men from Babylon, much like Daniel when he served in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. They were definitely not commoners. They were able to head straight to King Herod upon arriving in Israel.
This was a few hundred years after Daniel and Nebachudnezzar proclaimed the God of Israel. The Magi were likely Zoroastrians – a religion of one god with a strong concept of sin, Satan, and hell. Interesting. Clearly, certain key things stuck. This is why the Magi were looking for Jesus. They likely would have had known about Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy, written in their own language. They knew what to be watching for: the coming King.
 
God spoke to the Magi in another language they could understand: astrology. Although the exact details about the star of Bethlehem aren’t clear, we know that it meant something to the Magi when they were instructed to follow it.
God revealed the good news of the Saviour’s birth to an interesting variety of people. If you think about it, the characters in the Christmas story are pretty weird: angels, shepherds, Magi from a faraway land, and a young Jewish couple pregnant out of wedlock? The fact is that God loves and pursues all people in languages they can understand, not just one culture at one time. He speaks to us, too, in our culture and time.
 
Are we listening?
 
By Isaac Whiting and Laura Teng


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