Matthew – Day 6 – The Magi and King Herod
lease begin by reading the Shema out loud and continue trying to memorize it.
“Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God. The LORD alone. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Amen.”
In Day 5 of our study we read about King Herod (along with his chief priests and teachers of the law) and the Magi – two decidedly different groups of people. For us to encounter such highly contrastable sides makes for an interesting perspective.
The Magi were not Jewish. They were Gentiles (non-Jews). They were scholarly men who served as advisors to Babylonian and Persian rulers. Some say they were astrologers. It is unknown how these particular Magi knew about the Messiah’s star, but it is evident that people from other parts of the world, not just from Israel, were anticipating this prophesied Messiah.
We see that the Magi from the East knew about a sign that would guide them to the birthplace of the “one who was born the king of the Jews.” The star.
Herod is a family name of several rulers mentioned in the Gospels and in Acts. It can get confusing because there are so many Herods. The Herod in Matthew 2 is “Herod the Great.” He started out as governor of Galilee but through a series of bloody civil wars and the murdering of rivals, he became king of Judea (which included the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem). He killed anyone that he couldn’t trust, and he became so paranoid that he even started killing family members, close friends, and advisors because he “thought” that he couldn’t trust them.
So, as you can imagine, when Herod heard the Magi asking about a baby born to be the king of the Jews, he assumed this baby would threaten his power and his rule. He called his chief priests and the teachers of the law to him so he could ask about the prophecy about the Coming One. We see that the chief priests and teachers of the law knew of the prophecy in Micah 5:2, because they quoted it to King Herod – the baby would be born in Bethlehem.
Of course, Herod wanted to kill this baby who threatened his throne, but he knew that if he were honest with the Magi they would not tell him the location of the baby. So Herod devised a plan.
Read Matthew 2:7-12 (out loud).
We do not know how many Magi visited Jesus. People over the years have said that there were three Magi because there were three gifts given. The number of wise men is not important. One important lesson to learn from the Magi is that Jesus came for all people, not just the Jews. The Magi worshiped Him, and God protected them (and Jesus) from Herod. They were obedient to the warning they received in the dream and did not return to Herod.
So the scene is being set.
- Jesus is the “seed” of Abraham through which all people on earth will be blessed
- Jesus is the offspring of David through which the throne of his kingdom will last forever
- Jesus was born of a virgin and the world will call Him “God with us”
- There was a star that led the Magi (non-Jews) from the East to find the one who was born the king of the Jews
- Herod inquires of his chief priests and teachers of the law regarding the birthplace of the Coming One
- Herod lies to the Magi in order to find out the location of the baby so he can kill it
Ray Vander Laan – That the World May Know
Revell Bible Dictionary