Bible Society of South Africa

The king and the wise men from the east – 3 September 2021

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

Visitors from the East

1Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterwards, some men who studied the stars came from the east to Jerusalem

Matthew 2:1GNBOpen in Bible reader

Herod the Great was appointed by Rome as the king of Palestine from 37 BC. He was a good administrator and undertook building projects on a grand scale, among them the extension of the temple. He was an Edomite but was raised as a Jew and practised the Jewish religion. He was held in high regard by the Roman emperor but was not popular among the Jews. Herod was, according to history, a cruel and self-centred person who even had some of his children and also his first wife killed because he saw them as a threat to his throne.

Then one day, there was another perceived threat to his throne when a group of wise men, people who studied the stars, came from the East and visited Herod. They were most likely from Persia, a country that was famous for scientific knowledge. In historical documents, it is amazing to read how much these Persians, who studied the stars without our modern telescopes and computers, knew about the heavens. At some stage, they saw a star, which they interpreted as an indication of the birth of a king, so they set out on a long journey to find this king.

Both parties at this meeting believed in the birth of this new king of the Jews, but their respective reactions to the news was completely different. Herod saw him as a threat to his throne and tried everything in his power to have him killed. The wise men also saw him as a king and tried everything in their power to find and adore him.

Since coming to the world, Jesus has always evoked these different reactions. Some people also experience him as a threat to their little kingdoms but, by the grace of God, others see him as the King of Kings and enjoy praising and worshipping him every day. Nobody stays untouched.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that I am one of the blessed ones who sees Jesus as the King of my life. Thank you that I enjoy praising and worshipping him every day. Amen

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