Strangers Following a Star

Strangers Following a Star

Perry Duggar |

God used a star to lead wise men to the Messiah.

Strangers following a Star
Christmas Messengers – Message 2
Perry Duggar
December 11, 2022

I. Introduction: We continue our message series, Christmas Messengers.

  • Psalm 19:1-4; Isaiah 40:26

A. Today’s title is Strangers following a Star.

  1. Theme: Matthew 2:2 (NLT)—“…We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.”
  2. The messenger for these strangers from a foreign land, was a star. (Psalm 19:1-4; Isaiah 40:26)
  3. God used a wide variety of His creation to convey Christmas messages—including stars!

B. The message of the star… (Matthew 2:1-11)

1. Expressed an understandable message. (Matthew 2:1-2. C/R: Numbers 24:17; Jeremiah 10:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

  1. Matthew 2:1 (NLT)— Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,
  2. The Bible doesn’t provide much information about these mysterious Wise Men (Greek magi NIV, NASB); much of what we think comes from tradition, Christmas carols, and stories.
  3. There’s no evidence they were kings; it’s more likely they were advisors to kings, providing counsel on matters of science, law, religion, math and philosophy, but also interpreting dreams and divining wisdom through magic.
  4. They were a combination of scientist and sorcerer (same Greek word translated magi and sorcerer), who practiced medicine and the occult, combined the science of astronomy with the superstition of astrology (little distinction between science and superstition).
  5. They may have originated from Arabia or Asia, India or China, but most likely they came from the land of the Medes and Persians (modern day Iran) or Babylon (Iraq today).
  6. Instead of riding on camels; they may have been astride Arabian horses.
  7. They asked, at Matthew 2:2 (NLT)— “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.”
  8. These wise men were Gentiles, so how did they know about a Jewish king?
  9. It may have been Daniel, or some other Jewish captive, serving in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar who instructed the Babylonians about the one true God and the Messiah-king who was to come (almost 600 years later).
  10. Persia conquered Babylon in 539 BC and would have absorbed Babylonian teaching.
  11. These magi may have been aware of the Hebrew prophecy at Numbers 24:17 (NLT)— I see Him, but not here and now. I perceive Him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. [They came when a new star appeared!]
  12. The passage doesn’t say that the wise men followed the star; it says they saw it!
  13. Perhaps they traveled to Jerusalem because it was the religious and governmental center of Israel; the most obvious place to find a successor to the throne.
  14. Once they arrived, they asked openly where the newborn king could be found because they thought everyone would be aware of such an important event. (Matthew 2:2a)
  15. What was the star? Some scholars suggest it was an alignment of two planets (Jupiter and Saturn), a supernova (a faint star that violently explodes giving off enormous light) or possibly a comet passing close to the earth (most likely Halley’s).
  16. I don’t think it necessary to discover a natural explanation for a supernatural occurrence.
  17. God created a sign these wise men would recognize to alert them to Jesus’ birth.
  18. Jews were forbidden to consult the stars, interpret omens or rely on sorcery or divination to discern the future (Deuteronomy 18:10–13; Jeremiah 10:1-2), but these men pursued these practices.
  19. Was God being inconsistent? No! He wanted His people to rely on His Word in the Scriptures and from His prophets, but these men were not His people… yet!
  20. These wise men were also astronomers and astrologers who searched the heavens systematically; they would notice when something new appeared in the heavens.
  21. God knows us also and communicates with each of us individually, appropriately, to call us to His Son, our Savior, providing direction we will receive. (1Corinthians 9:19–23)
  22. When God issues an invitation to a person, He will deliver the message in a way that person will understand and won’t miss. (Don Richardson, Eternity in their Hearts)
  23. EX.: For an outdoorsman or woman, He will use the majesty of nature (Romans 1:20), for a scholar, rigorous study; for a scientist or engineer, the complexity and order of creation.
  24. ILL.: 20 years ago, Dr. Stuart Patterson, retired Dean of Faculty and Chairman of the Chemistry Department at Furman University made a presentation Is Evolution Supported by Scientific Evidence? Study convinced not only of creation, but also of young earth.
  25. APP.: How did God lead you to His Son? Being led now? Apologetics books available.

The message of the star…

2. Exposed unbelief of others. (Matthew. 2:3-8. C/R: Micah 5:2; 2 Samuel 5:2; 1 Corinthians 1:18-21; 2:14-16)

  1. Matthew 2:3 (NLT)— King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.
  2. When these wise men asked about a newborn Jewish king, Herod would have enraged because he was the king the Jews, crowned by Roman emperor Caesar Augustus.
  3. Because of the danger of their long journey through hostile Roman territory, these wise men would likely have been accompanied by a large caravan or even a small army.
  4. The people may have feared an ensuing battle; Herod was a cruel, vicious ruler who murdered suspected rivals, including his wife, his brother-in-law and three of his sons!
  5. Herod decided to discover what the Jewish religious experts knew.
  6. Matthew 2:4-6 (NLT)— 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you [Micah5:2] who will be the shepherd for My people Israel.’ ” [2 Samuel 5:2]
  7. The religious experts knew the information about the Messiah’s birth, but weren’t interested enough to travel six miles to Bethlehem to investigate it for themselves!
  8. Describe you? “I know where Jesus can be found,” but you don’t go, don’t seek, to find the Savior!
  9. Matthew 2:7-8 (NLT)— 7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find Him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship Him, too!”
  10. Herod pretended a desire to honor the newborn king; he told the magi where to search for Him (they didn’t know) and instructed them to return and report where they found Him.
  11. The Magi were sincerely seeking the Messiah; they endured hardship, delays, difficulties and danger as they crossed wilderness, desert and hostile lands to find the new king.
  12. Their eager pursuit revealed disinterest in religious experts and hostility in King Herod.
  13. APP.: Have you noticed whenever you are earnestly seeking Christ, trying to live your faith diligently, you will expose others who are indifferent or even antagonistic to Jesus?
  14. Don’t stop pursuing your faith and speaking your values despite opposition!

The message of the star…

3. Enabled an encounter with Jesus. (Matthew 2:9-11. C/R: Deuteronomy 4:28-29; Isaiah 55:6; John 1:10-13; 6:37,44-45)

  1. Matthew 2:9–10 (NLT)— 9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!
  2. With the king’s direction, the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, but they did not know how to locate or identify the child—they were stranded, stopped, until God sent a star!
  3. Was this the same star that signaled the birth of the Jewish king? It couldn’t be.
  4. A star in space can’t stop over a particular place; this must have been some kind of shining phenomenon (perhaps an angel) sent specifically to stop over the house to help the magi.
  5. When we pursue the Savior, God will provide the direction we need at each step—perhaps a star, more likely a book, a person, or an event, but most likely the Spirit of God.
  6. Matthew 2:11a (NLT)—11 They entered the house [ŏikia, a house, not a stable] and saw the child [ paidiŏn, child, not brĕphŏs, baby Luke 2:12 in the shepherd’s story] with His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him.
  7. Perhaps this is the same house where Jesus was born in the area where the animals were kept; but now, the census was over, so the extra guests have returned home.
  8. When did they arrive? Their journey of 1000 miles or more would have taken 3-4 months.
  9. Herod’s command to kill boys two years old and under based on the star’s first appearance (Matthew 2:16), indicates the wise men could have arrived up to two years after Jesus’ birth.
  10. Finding Jesus can take a while; we may have to endure times of delay, confusion, opposition, or frustration when God does not seem to be providing clear direction.
  11. Sometimes God has to work in us, in our character, before He reveals Jesus to us.
  12. Upon finding the child, the Magi might have wondered whether they had made a mistake; nothing about this child’s appearance or circumstances indicated He was a future king!
  13. But no, they knew Jesus’ identity as the king, the Messiah; they bowed and worshipped!
  14. Here’s additional evidence: Matthew 2:11b (NLT)— Then they opened their treasure chests and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
  15. The significance of their gifts reveals their insight, their understanding, of Jesus’ identity:
    • Gold, a common symbol of kings, acknowledged Jesus’ right to rule
    • Frankincense, used in temple offerings to God, symbolized His divinity as
    • Myrrh with wine was a pain killer, also used in embalming, it represented Jesus’ death.
  16. These gifts, not appropriate for an ordinary child, revealed that these magi recognized the identity of this special child by supernatural revelation, not by mere human observation.
  17. Coming close—traveling to Jerusalem, even arriving in Bethlehem wouldn’t have been enough for these magi; they needed to encounter Jesus, the Messiah, personally!
  18. APP.: Have you encountered the Savior personally? Not enough to attend church or be in a community group; you must have an individual transformational experience with Jesus!

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