Last week we looked at the prophecy from Balaam regarding the Messiah, whom Balaam dubbed the star of Jacob. This prophecy finds its way, not directly, but by allusion and pattern, into the Christmas narrative written by Matthew.
For with Balaam, we have the pattern of a pagan prophet telling Israel about the Messiah, referring to a star. The pattern is repeated when the magi, religious pagans, travel to Jerusalem and tell Herod about the birth of Messiah, saying that they saw the Messiah’s star.
One of the great mysteries of Scripture is how the magi, religious pagans from another land, were granted knowledge of the Messiah, and had such faith that they caravaned to Jerusalem in search of Him. Did God advise them in a dream? Did the prophet Daniel or other Jews in the court of Babylon, hundreds of years prior, advise the magi of those days regarding Messiah, and did those magi pass down the prophecies?
Since Scripture doesn’t answer those questions, we can only speculate. We do know that magi went to Herod and followed the star to Jesus’ post-birth home, within a couple of years of His birth in Bethlehem.
Just as suddenly as the magi appeared, they left. But during their short stay in Scripture they were privileged to behold the infant Christ, a privilege not granted to many.
Although few in those days understood the implications of Jesus’ birth, it is not so in our day. Each and every Christmas what was the privilege of the magi is the privilege of God’s worldwide church, insomuch as we get to ponder the birth of Christ and the hope of Israel. Although we don’t get to see Christ in the flesh, we get to read about Him and celebrate the reason for His becoming man; a reason which, like the account of the magi, comes to us from Matthew.
Merry Christmas and praise be to the star of Jacob, the descendant of David and the bright morning star!