1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. 12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
The wise men have been understood as many as magicians who practised magic for various reasons. The original Greek reads "magoi". This refers to the fact that where they came from, the land of Medians and Persians, the "magian" were a caste of renowned wise men, probably priests of the religion of their time and place of origin, Persia and the ancient Babylon; many historians and scholars identify them as Zoroastrian priests, a religion than became monotheist and that condemned sorcery - widely known as magic. Jeremiah 39:3 and 13 gives us names of many of them, being Rabmag one of them. Besides, we can also remember that Daniel was appointed chief of the magicians and wise men in Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom and among them were priests, astrologers and all kinds of wise men, Daniel 2:48, just like Pharaoh had magicians in his court. They represent gentile and pagan knowledge and religion. They were considered as princes, in the sense of being principals, scholars and wise men who were members of the kings' council.
We are also told that the wise men from the east were awaiting signs from the starts, and this leads some to think they were astrologers, and others think they were astronomers; but the relevant fact is that they understood the meaning of the event that occurred which different scientists identify with what happened, a planetary conjunction, a comet or a star that God was using to call the attention of these wise men to represent the Gentiles, and who came to adore His Son understanding that His star could only be the star of the Messiah who was announced by the Jewish people in all eastern cultures whilst they were in captivity in Babylon, and in Egypt prior to that, and across the nations where God took them to. In the Gospel of Luke, we also see that the angel appears to the shepherds of Bethlehem to announce the birth. These shepherds were Israelites, they represented the Jewish lay people. The Sanhedrin were informed at the same time as Herod, who were both the Messiah's enemies since they saw in Him the threat of losing their relevant positions. The Child Messiah was the legitimate King and the legitimate High Priest, and something else that they may not have thought about at the beginning: He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, John 1:29. These three titles are the three presents of recognition brought by the wise men from the east. Gold is the royalty, frankincense is the priesthood and myrrh is the suffering.
God's strategy is always the correct one. Matthew's Gospel is specifically addressed to the Jews and this is why he calls their attention through the Gentiles, the wise men from the east. On the other hand, Luke's Gospel - Paul's disciple - is specifically addressed to the Gentiles, and this is where we find the announcement of the birth to the shepherds of Israel. The Word tells us that the Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom (1Corinthians 1:22). Therefore, the Lord speaks to each of them in their spiritual contexts, the sign of the appearance of the angel is for the Jewish shepherds, whilst the wise men - representing the Gentiles - is through an astronomical event that requires the knowledge of the cosmos in order to understand it. On the other hand, each event is described in the opposite Gospel, in order to draw the attention of both Jews and Gentiles.
Matthew's Text concludes with the confirmation of Herod's heartlessness, who had not spared murdering several wives and sons to avoid any conspiracies against him. We can understand undoubtedly by this man's story, a man of pagan origins but converted Jew for the purpose of governing, that he did not hesitate to instruct killing every boy under two found in Bethlehem and its surroundings when he was troubled to hear the wise men's question: "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?", fulfilling the prophecy of the slaughter of the children, the martyrs of Jesus:
13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
19But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 21And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
This wonderful story is filled with supernatural facts and divine plans. God uses a start that He stops on the skies in order to guide the Gentile wise men to adore His Son. Four prophecies are fulfilled, and the wise men and Joseph receive instructions in dreams and messages from angels. Certainly the arrival of the Son of God to this world was an unprecedented spiritual revolution, full of persecution in the governing classes, meaning civil and religious powers.
GOLD, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH. THE GOLDEN RULE, THE GREAT COMMANDMENT AND THE GREAT COMMISSION.
This text that was inspired to Matthew almost two thousand years ago leads us to the heart of the Gospel itself: ...Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand... Matthew 4:17, and Jesus Christ Himself is the Kingdom of God in person, Who came to this world Who comes to this world everyday through preaching and Who comes everyday to the world of every soul that receives Him as the Son of God, as Saviour, as the Christ, the awaited Messiah who brings the Kingdom of God.
The birth of the Messiah changes the history of humanity opening the door to reconciliation with God, the return to Eden for those who love Him. When Child Jesus is presented with gold, frankincense and myrrh, with what each of these presents means, our Christian heart also receives three presents that will change our lives forever as sons of God and will make us sanctify our whole being, spirit, soul and body.
When we preach the Gospel we bring these three presents to the listener. The gold of God's love, the Gospel itself; the frankincense of our prayer for those who listen; and the myrrh of our intercession in holiness, spiritual battle and persecution in the world, bearing our cross. This is how we fulfill the golden rule.
When we receive the Gospel and we are born again, we are receiving those three presents. The gold of God's love; the frankincense for Christ's prayer in Gethsemane, and the Church's, so that we have faith in the work of Christ; and the myrrh in the Passion of Christ on the Cross, Who with His blood cleanses us of sin. When we have received the Son of God, we love God fulfilling the Great Commandment.
And third, when we are church, God's family
with our brethren in the faith, we bring gold when we
acknowledge Christ in our brethren who have been born again,
taking the sandals off our feet, barefoot of the Gospel
towards them in whom Christ has already been born, those who
grown mature in Him, because their souls are already Temples of the
Spirit, barefoot, the same way as Yahweh asked Moses when
he went up to mount Sinai, where His presence dwelled and the
bush was burning with fire but not consumed. This is an important point, to
treat our brethren as holy people, as holy temples, as Body of
Christ. The frankincense of the prayer remains, not just
individually but through the work of the Lord amongst all the
members, for the ministry, for the Great Commission. And we will
bring myrrh in the intercession for our friends in Christ when
we ...bear one another’s burdens... Galatians 6:2 and we lay
down our lives for them, 1John 3:16 and 17.
Gold. The golden rule:
... But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. 30Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Luke 6:27. And among Christians: ... By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35.
Frankincense. The Great Commandment:
Myrrh. The Great Commission:
... And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28.
Gold is the heart that loves us, the heart of God, of our parents, of the husband and the wife, of our sons and daughters, of our friends in Christ; but the Lord teaches us to win over the heart of our enemies, and that is what we were before we got to know Him. If we win the heart we win the true gold, the greatest possession we may ever have, our God, our beloved ones and those unknown to us in Christ through the Word and our good deeds. Let us not spare any efforts to truly win hearts over, because this is the greatest treasure, which just like gold it is purified in the furnace of fire, a symbol of the test of faith of a pure heart: ... Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God ... Matthew 5:8. ... But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven... Matthew 6:20. ...A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things... Matthew 12:35. ...I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire... Revelation 3:18. Gold is the heart and what is sacred, holy, the Temple, the Tabernacle, the Altar, the furnishings of the Temple, everything that was sacred was either covered or made of gold because it was for God, therefore let us live a life of gold for God earning the friendship and the love of His heart next to our Lord Jesus Christ, the most precious friend, and earn Christ in a brother and in the true and Biblical Church.
Gold is, therefore. the love of God which we love with, loving Him and our neighbour. We have to really consider the true meaning of neighbour, since it refers to whoever is close to us, next to us; we have to start thinking about our next door neighbours, in our community, our town, at work, in our daily life, when we are travelling, etc. Then we must ask ourselves: does my neighbour know the Gospel? Does my neighbour have any kind of problem or need where I can help? ...Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me... Matthew 25:40.
If we love we will worry about others, about our beloved ones, our brethren, our neighbours, those who do not know God, and thus we will be moved to pray, because prayer for others comes from love; prayer for ourselves comes from the need to have God and His blessing. When we pray for others before God and in the name of Jesus Christ, Yahshua, the prayer goes up to the presence of the Lord like frankincense, even more, the Word tells us in Revelation 5:8 that our prayers are the frankincense of the golden bowls. If we pray for others whom we love and for those whom we feel compassion for, we are also moved to intercession, to the anointment of the myrrh, which means action, deeds, evangelization, battle in this world to bring the Kingdom of God to others, bearing our cross which is often bitter with disdain and persecutions, but many other times it is also joy in the Lord, victory winning over souls for Heaven and seeing the hand of the Lord in the ministries in the Church: Evangelization, the Church and its duties as God's family, missions, the good works of humanitarian and social aid and in His blessings, that is, the Great Commission.
The sublime use of frankincense was as a component of the holy oil to anoint and consecrate the Levite priests. Every Christian is a priest who must intercede for his neighbour with the anointment of the Holy Spirit. We anoint the sick with oil laying our hands in prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. The holy ointment was poured over the twelve loaves of shewbread and over the offering of fine meal, and burnt with fire. It was excluded from the offering of atonement. Christ on the Cross only received myrrh which was already offered to Him on His birth as a man. And at the end of His life on earth the order of the presents is reversed. Frankincense would follow Him to His sepulchre, and gold in His resurrection receiving the Kingdom, the crown as King of kings to the right of the Father.
Myrrh is a symbol of the bitterness and the anointment of the cleansing. Myrrh, from the Greek "smyrna" meaning bitterness, the name of the second church of the seven churches in Revelation 2:8-11 which John, through Christ's revelation, exhorts to remain in the faith in suffering, in the trials, and in tribulation and whose winners will be delivered from the second death. A reflection of the suffering of the Messiah, who would give His blood, the same colour as myrrh, granting us the same hope, after persecution on earth, resurrection for eternal life in His Kingdom.
The three presents came from gentile lands. The gold for the Temple and the most precious one for its purity came from Ophir. Frankincense came from Arabia and myrrh came from Arabia or the north of Africa.
...And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD. 20And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar. 21So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. 22And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold. 1Kings 6.
...Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. ... Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world ... 1Peter 1
...And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. Revelation 21.
The new Jerusalem is made of gold, holiness and God's love. There is no temple inside, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. We will live in the presence of the Lord looking at God's face for eternity.
...And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. 8And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. 9Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon. 10And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD. Exodus 30.
...Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. 2Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141.
...But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” 6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying: “ You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5.
Our prayers go up to Yahweh every morning and every day from the lamps of our souls full of oil of the holy anointment and lit with cleansing fire, for our generations.
...And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2.
...And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. 23And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. Mark 15.
...And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. John 19.
These two men, Jesus' disciples, were moved in the spirit to bury the Lord. Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus and bring it down from the Cross, whilst Nicodemus brought the spices to anoint Him with myrrh and aloes covering it with linen clothings with the spices. Our acknowledgement and admiration in our hearts in holiness which their work produces when we read about it, placing the Lord's body in a new sepulchre, where the Lord would remain until He resurrected the third day. I believe that the hearts of Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus must have leaped when they saw the Lord alive again having carried Him in their arms to the sepulchre, no doubt they must have been fully convinced that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. This story has been kept for us today, almost two thousand years later, our heart is also deeply touched by the Lord's myrrh, that mixture of red resin, blood-coloured, of magnificent smell, with healing qualities but with bitter taste.
THE THREE CONCEPTS IN OUR SPIRITUAL DICTIONARY:
Gold: The Heart of God. The heart of man when he has Christ, which is achieved throuh the Gospel. Value of the heart. Highly priced material that is compared to our faith, and the Bible says that we shall be tried with fire to prove whether we are God's and what will remain will be only His with our personality and everything that we build on the foundation of Christ; the rest of our being, everything that we have built with our mind based on the world, will melt like dross. Offering that was brought by the wise men from the east in recognition that gentile and pagan knowledge surrenders before Jesus Christ who has the power to be the King of kings of the earth; the recognition of the gentiles who embraced the Gospel of the fact that Jesus is the Messiah.
Exodus 25:17, Job 28:15, Isaiah 60:6, Matthew 2:11, 1Peter 1:7, Revelation 3:18.
Frankincense: Sweet-smelling aroma of the prayers of Jesus Christ for us. Sweet-smelling aroma of the prayers of the saints that are brought to the presence of the Lord and which He pours on blessing over His beloved ones. Anointment or blessing that is brought to a brother, sent by God, when we pray or intercede for him offering our soul to the Lord in exchange.
Psalm141:2, Song of Songs 4:6, Matthew 2:11, Revelation 5:8, 8:3.
Myrrh: Bitterness which Christ has gone through, because of His love for us, to obtain His kingdom and so that we can share it with Him. He is the good King who loves His people, the Church, and this is why he has given His life for us. The kings of the earth have glorified Him, and for this reason the three wise men, also known as the three magi, brought Him the royal and prophetic presents. Myrrh accompanied the Lord in His birth, in His death on the Cross and in the anointing of His body to be placed in the sepulcher of the rich.
Psalm 45:8; Song of Songs 1:13; Matthew 2:11; Mark 15:23.
Being our Lord Jesus Christ the centre of this sacred story we cannot but conclude that He was and is the Master who offers us the three presents: His gold, His incense and His myrrh.
Gold, incense and myrrh. The Golden Rule, The Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Spirit, Soul and Body, Body of Christ given over to the myrrh of the Cross to win another Body, the anointed Bride as the women who were anointed with myrrh, the Church, which will also offer herself to Him for the marriage of the Lamb.
Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, dead and resurrected in Jerusalem, King of Kings, loved us to death, and death on the Cross. He fulfilled and obeyed the father until His death. He gives us the greatests treasure, more valuable than gold, His love and His Kingdom. He anoints us with the best anointment of incense, His Holiness in us through the Holy Spirit. He accompanies us through suffering, in intercession, in the Great Commision and He never leaves us alone, until His coming when the myrrh shall remain as sweet-smelling aroma on the body of His beloved one, the memory of having shared the spiritual battle, the Church for eternity for Him.
My final words are to remind you that the Messianic prophecy of the song of Moses and the song of he Lamb in Revelation 15 is fulfilled, and we now await the second part in His coming. Let us sing that song in our congregations for His glory until He comes:
...Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. 4Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. Amen. The Lord is coming, open up your heart in Christmas and give away spiritual gold, incense and myrrh. May God bless you in the name of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Yahshua.