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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Day 3: Matthew 2:1-15 & Psalm 3 - What Makes for True Wisdom?

Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-15 & Psalm 3

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What Makes for True Wisdom?

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’” - Matthew 2:1-6, ESV

At the beginning of Matthew 2, we're introduced to two groups of wise men: pagan star-gazers from Persia and Jewish experts in the Scripture from Jerusalem. On the surface, we might expect to know which group would be more faithful to God, more willing to follow His will. But, as we find out, the "wise men from the east" are faithful to worship and obey, while the Jewish Scripture experts did nothing but serve the treachery of an evil king.

From these two sets of men, we can learn three lessons:

1. Head knowledge is not as important as a heart that desires to do God's will. The chief priests and scribes knew the Scriptures well. They knew where the Messiah was to be born. The wise men did not know the Scriptures as well, but their heart's desire was to worship the promised newborn King and obey the Lord.  

2. It's more important to act on what knowledge we have. The wise men had limited knowledge, but they fully acted in obedience to what God did reveal to them. The wise men most likely came from Persia, and it's possible that they benefitted from the legacy of wisdom handed down from Daniel. Perhaps they even had some Scriptures of Moses, including perhaps Numbers, which includes Balaam's prophecy: "a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel" (Num. 24:27). That would explain why they were waiting for a star to rise.   

3. We never know what legacy we'll leave behind. Daniel certainly left a legacy behind him, maybe one that influenced the wise men of Matthew 2. The wise men certainly left a legacy behind them, as their story has been told for thousands of years. On the other hand, the religious scribes and priests also left a legacy, one of sorrow and shame. Within 75 years, their beloved Jerusalem would be destroyed, their treasured Temple in ruin. If we seek to acquire knowledge to serve our own interests, we will hurt ourselves and those who come after us. Faithfulness to the Lord and obedience to His word comes only by His grace working in our hearts and always leaves a blessed legacy for the generations that follow.

Prayer based on Psalm 3:

Heavenly Father, I am entirely in Your hands and Your care. You are indeed "a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head." I am very aware of my enemies: my flesh seeks to draw me away from you into selfish lusts and foolish ambition, the world wants to ensnare me in its distractions and the devil seeks to steal, kill and destroy. But You are the One who sustains me always. I lay down and sleep and awake in the morning because You are my keeper, and so I am do not need to be afraid.

I do not pray only for myself, but I ask that You would bless Your people, O Lord. Arise among us by the power of Your Holy Spirit and deliver us from our enemies. Keep us in Your hands. We are Yours. Your kingdom never advances unopposed, but by Your grace You always lead us on. Lead us, keep us, save us and bless us, O Lord!

In Jesus' name and for His sake, Amen.  

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