Posts Tagged ‘Herod’

Epiphany and the Three Kings

February 25, 2018

January 6 is Epiphany or Three Kings Day.  It is traditionally thought to be the day that the three kings arrived to give their gifts and worship to the baby Jesus.  But is that really the way it happened?

Let us look at the events as told in the Bible. 

We’ll start in the book of Matthew where we are told about the magi.  In chapter two we are told the wise men arrived in Jerusalem from the East.  They asked around for the whereabouts of the One who was born King of the Jews.  As you may suspect this caused an uproar in Jerusalem.  Herod the king was a very suspicious and paranoid king worried that everyone was trying to take his kingdom away from him. 

Herod knew Israel’s Holy Scriptures prophesied about this special Ruler so he called the priests and scribes who knew the scriptures best.  They told him the Baby was to be born in Bethlehem, a small town about five miles from Jerusalem.  Herod then interviewed the wise men.   He found they had been traveling about two years.  We surmise this from the age of the children he killed in Bethlehem

When Herod had all the information he wanted he sent the magi on to Bethlehem.  He wanted them to find the Baby, return to him, and tell him the location of the Baby.  He would then “worship” the Baby, meaning he would kill the Baby.

The wise men traveled on to Bethlehem and, following a star that led them on much of their journey, found the Baby and Mary, His mother, in the house they were staying in.  They gave their gifts to Jesus and worshiped Him. 

We are not told it they stayed in Bethlehem a few days or traveled back home the next day.  We are told that as they slept God told them in a dream to not return to Herod so they took another route back home.

I am sure Herod had many spies.  At least one of them would have told him that the magi left Bethlehem within twenty-four hours of their departure.  Herod was furious that the wise men would defy his order.  Then he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all baby boys two years old and under.  It would not have taken the soldiers long to cover the five miles to Bethlehem.

Now let us turn our attention to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (Luke 2).  When Jesus was eight days old He was taken by his parents to the temple in Jerusalem to be circumcised.  After that they waited another thirty-three days.  At the end of the thirty-three days Mary and Joseph brought Jesus back to the temple in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice for Mary’s purification. 

That is a total of forty-one days after Jesus was born in Bethlehem that He was found in Jerusalem.  If the wise men had already been to Bethlehem and left for home Herod would have known and would have been looking for newborn babies from Bethlehem, but He was not looking for Jesus at this time. 

Therefore, I believe that the wise men did not arrive in Jerusalem or Bethlehem until at least forty-one days and perhaps as long as two years after the birth of Jesus.  The wise men traveled many days to worship the baby Jesus.  They brought gifts. 

They are our examples.  It is not enough to give gifts, to think about Jesus only at Christmas time.  We need to worship Jesus and bring Him the only gift He really wants. Ourselves.

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