Why Should The Wise Men Care About A Jewish King?

While preparing for a message about the wise men from Matthew 2, this question came to the forefront of my mind: What could possibly be so important to these educated nobility from an area (or possibly many areas) east of Israel, that they would undertake a journey that would take them from one to two years, to seek a natural sovereign (“…He who is born king of the Jews…”) of a state that was under the dominion of another? Why would they seek the anger and animosity of Rome (the world super power of the day) by paying homage to such a one in a time when there were many uprisings against Rome by these troublesome people? And why did they bring the specific gifts they brought? Gold is a gift fit for a king, but the incense and myrrh are for a deity and a dead man, respectively. So why those gifts? Their actions seem unwise, impractical, and just plain silly, unless they had some insight or knowledge that we do not read of in Scripture. Or is it possible we just don’t recognize where they got their insight?

In the Old Testament, we have a record of a prophet declaring, {qluetip title=[Numbers 24:17]} “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: There shall come a Star out of Jacob, And a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, And shall smite the corners of Moab, And destroy all the children of Sheth. ” (Numbers 24:17, KJV 1900) {/qluetip}. The prophet was Balaam (yes, the prophet for hire that God rebuked with a talking donkey and an angel with a sword blocking his way). His audience was Balak, king of Moab, a country on the border of the Arabian peninsula (east of Israel). This is the only passage I have found in the Old Testament, that connects the Star with the kingship (Sceptre) of Israel. Interestingly enough, this prophecy was given to a member of the nobility east of Israel. It is prophesied that this King, associated with The Star, would conquer pretty much all of the Middle East as we know it today. If they were aware of this prophecy and believed it, doesn’t it make sense that they would seek peace with such a king?

However, that is not the only connection that the wise men of the east shared with Israel. Around 900 years after Balaam, and around 600 years before these wise men, there was a Jew who ruled over all the wise men in the Middle East. His name was Daniel (see {qluetip title=[Daniel 2:48]} “Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. ” (Daniel 2:48, KJV 1900) {/qluetip}). He was a man of visions, dreams, and God-given wisdom and insight. He not only knew his Jewish history, but it was also given to him to know much of God’s future plans, not just for Israel, but for the entire world. His prophecies are some of the most specific in the Bible, and many have already come to pass with astounding accuracy. His prophecies are so accurate and detailed that Bible critics often claim that someone else wrote them after they were fulfilled! He was also a very devout Jew and intensely committed to his God. He saw God’s great plan for the restoration of Israel and greatly hungered to see it realized. Therefore it would not be unreasonable, due to his great influence in both the Babylonian and the Persian Empires, that there would be some followers of his teachings among the remnants of the nobility in those eastern countries.


Regardless of how the wise men knew that this Jesus was of great importance to, and worthy of worship by, not only the Jews, but all the world, it was revealed to them, and they followed the leading of this star until it brought them to the true Light (John 1:4,5,9). Ultimately, their trip was one of faith. Either they believed the words God led Balaam to speak, they believed Daniel’s teachings based on the prophesies God gave him, or perhaps God simply revealed it to them Himself, as He did when He warned them of the danger they were in from Herod (Matthew 2:12). In all ways, they are an example of faith. May we take their example, be wise, and by faith follow the light of the Bible to lead us to worship this same Light, the Lord Jesus Christ!

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