God’s Great Gift

KEY VERSE: “When they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” —Matthew 2:11


NEARLY TWENTY CENTURIES have passed since the events of today’s lesson. Israel, instead of being exalted as Messiah’s Kingdom, has seen utter destruction, and its people scattered throughout the earth, until in just recent years we have seen the beginning of the promised return of the Jews to their homeland.

Our lesson relates to the “wise men” (vs. 7) of the east, traditionally three in number, and their seeing a wonderful star—which, as astrologers, they recognized to foretell a major event, the birth of a great king. They arrived in Jerusalem and began to inquire respecting the newly born Jewish king. The news soon spread, and the holy city was in a commotion because according to the prophets the Messiah—who had been promised for centuries—was due to appear about that time.

We read, in Luke 3:15, “All men were in expectation of him.” The news finally reached the royal palace, and King Herod himself. When he heard about this he was alarmed, jealous of anyone who might in any measure share the royal honor, and thus detract from his own importance. Beyond that, he may have felt that no other power should conflict with Caesar’s authority.

Herod, therefore, sent for the wise men and, feigning a deep interest in their quest, inquired how they knew about Israel’s Messiah, and where they were going to look for the newborn baby. They replied that they had seen his star in the east. Herod then called the learned men of the Law to inquire where the prophets had foretold that the Messiah should be born. The prophecies were searched, and it was learned that the humble city of Bethlehem would be the honored place of our Savior’s birth.—vss. 1-6

The Prophet Micah had written, “Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, … out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.” (Mic. 5:2) Herod then sent the wise men to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.” (vs. 8) The wise men departed, fully intending to return to tell him where the baby could be found, not knowing the evil design in Herod’s mind to destroy the child.

The wise men departed, and “Lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. … When they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”—vss. 9-11

The crafty Herod had expressed his desire to worship the Heaven-appointed king, but really had every intention of destroying him. He attempted to do this by slaughtering all the innocent children in Bethlehem and its vicinity from two years old and under. (vs. 16) But how foolish was his endeavor to thwart the Almighty! Being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, the wise men departed into their own country another way. And Joseph, also warned in a dream, took Jesus and Mary into Egypt where they lived until after the death of Herod.

The wise men who brought the Christ Child both worship and gifts, perhaps symbolized the fact that those who have ever since sought the divinely-appointed king, are truly wise—those who bring to him the incense of their devotion, and, as gifts, all their talents and powers. Such lay their very lives at the Savior’s feet, the Apostle Paul explains, as “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.”—Rom. 12:1

Although the Jews refused him as their Messiah, and then crucified him (John 1:11), Jesus is yet to be King of the Jews—yes, King of the world! We, by faith, hail him as King, even before the establishment of his kingdom, and gladly submit ourselves to him, pledging our lives in the service of his cause of righteousness and truth. When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we express our confidence that God’s will shall indeed be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and that the Messianic reign will overthrow all evil and establish righteousness among men on the same permanent basis as prevails in heaven. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”—II Cor. 9:15

Dawn Bible Students Association
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