Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Matthew 2

December 25th, 2010 by Vic

December 26, 2010

“Wise Men Still Seek Him”

Matthew 2

The facts are clear.  Matthew’s account is simple.  This chapter weaves together the lives of 4 different people, four different characters with different backgrounds, at different points in their spiritual journey.  How God talked to each person and how they responded is different.

4 different people: Herod, Wise Men, Scholars, and Joseph.

Let’s ask each of them 3 questions:  1. How did God speak to you?   2. What did you do when you heard the Truth?   3. How did your choice affect your life and your world?

1. Herod represents all those people who have authority and enjoy the power they have over other people.  They are insecure and worried that someone with more popularity may replace them.  They want love, but do not love.  They want trust, but are not trusting.  They want power, because they are weak.  They manipulate people, and get very angry when they are not obeyed.

How does God talk to these power hungry Herods?  Who would Herod listen to?  In the story today God used strangers.  They were respectable men from another country.  They were not too much of a threat.  Herod would listen to them.  To confront Herod with the Truth, God used the only people that Herod might listen to–strangers.

Notice the wise men did not go to Herod.  They were just asking around town.  Maybe the local paper had already interviewed them.

Herod did not want to admit that he did not know everything.  2:7 says he arranged a secret interview.

How does God try to talk to you?  Who would you listen to?  Would He send a wind storm, floods, or ice storm, or avalanche, or economic instability?  How is God trying to get your attention?  God is speaking.  God spoke to Herod in a way he would listen.

The Truth is simple.  Jesus is born.  God came into the world as a child.  Herod never doubts the message.  He assumed the message was true.  But what did he do when he heard the Truth? What do you do when you hear the truth?  Do you rationalize?  Explain it by science?  Explain it as bad luck?  Blame it on El Nino.

God is still speaking.  He has never stopped speaking.  Are you listening?  What are you doing with the truth?

You know people who believe in God, believe in prayer, but are not interested in what God has said as recorded in the Bible or in trying to obey what He said.  Satan believes in God and trembles.  Satan can quote a lot of Scripture, but does not obey.  Herod believed in God.

How did disobedience affect Herod’s life?  How will disobedience affect your life and your world?

Herod was disturbed.  He was embarrassed.  His attitude affected everyone around him.  At this point Herod has at least 3 options.  He can accept the Truth, he can rationalize and ignore the Truth, or he can try to change the Truth.  We have the same choices today.

He had to protect his reputation, so he could not ignore it.  That is not an option.  The reporters would be interviewing the Wise Men.  He had to look smart.  But if he accepted the Truth he would have to change his life-style.  So the only option he has is to try and change the Truth.  Trying to break God’s moral laws has similar consequences as trying to break His natural laws, like gravity. You do not break God’s law; it breaks you.  You cannot change Truth.  You cannot change God.

Here were several scholars from a foreign land who had come to worship a king besides Herod.  If that word got out, Herod was in trouble.  He might lose control.

What was the result of Herod’s decision to try and change the Truth?  20-40 children may have died.  There was weeping and great mourning, but he didn’t change the Truth.  Herod died and the Truth remained.  Herod’s son was prevented from knowing the Truth because of Herod’s rejection.  Our choices can greatly affect others.

When we reject God’s truth, our family and friends suffer.  Matthew seems to suggest some parallels between Pharaoh and Herod and Moses and Jesus.  Infants are killed.  Those who follow Moses are led from slavery to freedom.

2. The second type of person we see confronted by the Truth is the wise man.  These were the thinkers.  They probably came from the great country of the Medes and Persians where Daniel had lived, where the 3 Hebrews had walked out of the fiery furnace.  They had copies of some of the Jewish literature.  They had studied all the Truth of God they could find.  They did not have Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem being the birth place.  It was commonly held that the birth and death of great men was heralded by the appearance of a heavenly phenomenon.  They saw a heavenly phenomenon.

The Bible literally says they saw that star “at its rising” rather than “in the east”.   They perceived the sign as a fulfillment of the Jewish expectation of a coming Messiah who would shepherd His people.  In verse 9 the star was going before them until it came and stood above the home.  The star which they had seen at its rising now moved and stopped.

The real point is that by divine guidance they are able to find the child.  These Gentiles accepted and obeyed. The Jews rejected their King.  The Gentiles acted on the Truth they had.  Why did God let them go to Jerusalem first?

They were not considered God’s children.  They were non-Israelites.  They were not normal church people, but they knew God.  They didn’t look like Christians, but they feared God and sought truth.  They sought truth, followed truth, and worshiped truth.  They obeyed the truth they knew and sought more.

How did God speak to the wise men?  In a way that they would listen.  God spoke to Herod in a way he would listen.  God speaks to us in ways He expects us to listen.  God speaks to men in ways that are fitting to each individual’s needs.  How does God speak to you?  What does God have to do in your life to change you or confront you with Truth?  What does God have to do to get you to leave your comfort zone and seek Him with all your heart?

These scholars were astronomers.  They had status and authority in their home country.  There was no logical reason for them to spend time and money to chase a star.  They studied the stars.  They knew the regularity of God’s creation.  When something unusual occurred, they felt that was a sign from God.  We get frustrated with our interruptions.  They assumed God may be in their interruptions.  They had a reverence for creation.  They had an inner motivation to seek the Truth.  They had a desire to know their Creator and worship Him.  Worship was important to them.  They came to worship the person who has control of the stars.  They came to worship the person who could change the routine of the universe.

God spoke in a way they could hear and they chose to follow the Truth.  They accepted the Truth and searched for more.

Notice, they did not have all the Truth, but they obeyed the ‘light’ they had.  They used their logic to find more Truth and as they went out of their way to search for more Truth, they found it.  If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will find it.  If we obey the Truth we understand, we will find more Truth.  God does not steer parked cars.

The wise men could have stayed home and told God they were not moving until He gave more details, until He was plainer with His signs?  They could have told God to show them more signs before they would walk 1,000 miles across Kansas.  Some of us act like that.  God brought their name to our mind and said ‘go’.  We sit home and argue.  God wants us to trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding.  (Prov 3:5)

The wise men obeyed God.  They knew God was speaking.  They came 1,000 miles to find the King.  Think of their initial disappointment.  They came to God’s country and nobody knew of God’s gift.  Nobody seemed to care.  Nobody got excited about their report.  Those who really should be excited were apathetic.  Those who really should have known were ignorant.  Those who were closest to the light were living in darkness.  The scholars in Jerusalem were nervous.  They didn’t seem excited about the birth of a king.

Were the wise men starting to feel they had made a mistake?  They listened to Herod, but felt uneasy.  Everyone seemed to treat them funny.  But they remained sensitive to God.  They had seen the star and apparently no one else had.  They left the city of apathy and now again they saw a star that moved to the home of Jesus.  They heard God, but others did not.  When God warned them to go home without returning to Herod, no one else in Bethlehem heard that either.

Because they obeyed the Truth, the leading of God, they saw Jesus face to face.  Because they changed their life style to seek the Truth, they were satisfied.  Because they obeyed, Joseph and Mary had enough money to live in Egypt for a couple years.  Because they obeyed, they returned safely to their homes.  Because they obeyed, they have been honored throughout history.  Because they obeyed, we give gifts every year.  Their obedience to the Truth changed history.

What would have happened if they had been discouraged when everyone kept telling them, “there is no other king here.  Are you sure there is suppose to be a King born?  How do you know?  What makes you think that God speaks through the stars?  God never spoke to us in the stars.”

People try to discourage us.  God has given us a vision.  We must obey.  We can be part of a change in the history of our family, maybe our community, maybe our country, if we obey.  The change we make depends on what we do with Jesus.  You may be a foreigner in a strange situation, but the Truth of God will confront you in a way that maybe only you will understand.  God may send a star in your sky to bring you to Jesus.  Nobody else may see it as a sign, but you will know and you will be drawn to Jesus to worship Him.  You must choose to worship Jesus as King of your life.

No matter how far away you are from the church, God will speak to you in a way that you can understand.  You can try to change it like Herod or you can be wise and worship.  Wise men have a natural desire to worship.  Wise men still seek Him.  Wise men still hear Him, follow, and worship.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

This Christmas many children will be destroyed by parents who are selfish and full of drugs.  Many lives are full of everything except Truth and reverence.

Did you come as wise men to worship?  The star is no longer important when you find Jesus.  All the signs and experiences of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His face.  The wise men worshipped Jesus, not the star.  God may use different signs for you.  But all signs point to Jesus.  Worship Him, not the signs.  Commit your gifts to Jesus.

Following ‘our star’ or God’s leading in our lives will not always be easy.  It is not a one day trip.  There will be loneliness, disappointment, discouragement.  We will be tempted to compromise and abandon our vision.  Be wise.

The next group of people are the church leaders.  These are the pastor, the worship team, board members, the leaders.  The priests were the ones who dictated the order of service.  These religious scholars made sure the doctrine was kept pure.  They interpreted and taught the law.  They had studied the letter of the law and had become indifferent to the message.  They had told everybody else what to do and others had become as empty as them.  God had given them a sign (the Law) and they chose to worship the sign.  God was trying to speak to them through His word and they would not listen.

So now, how does God speak to them?  Through politics.  External authority. The governmental leader gave a command to find the Truth and they were forced to find it.  They had not been seeking God.  They had all the information they needed to come to Jesus, but they had become inoculated to the Truth.  I hope we do not need a change in government, a war, or a national disaster before we choose to seek Jesus.  These church leaders needed a national crisis to get them to seek the Truth.

Most people seem content today with their sinful lives.  They are not interested in thinking great thoughts.  They have become so involved in the routine they cannot see the God of creation.  They are slaves of sin, and seem apathetic to the Truth that can set them free.

How do these church leaders react when they hear the Truth?  They remain unchanged. They had the evidence and personal testimony that the Messiah they were looking for had been born, but we have no record that they did anything about it.  They did nothing.  They knew the fact of Jesus’ birth, but the fact does not change their life style.  The ‘Devil’ believes in God.  All the demons knew Jesus, but knowing about Jesus will not save you.  You must choose to worship.  Believing in the big man upstairs will not get you to heaven.

These religious people heard the Truth and did nothing.  Has church attendance changed you or made you indifferent?  Jesus said the difference between a wise man and a fool is obedience.  Both wise and foolish hear the word, but the wise do something about the Truth they know.  Both the wise men and the priests had the Scriptures.  The wise man is willing to change his life style.  Even commit his life to following the Truth.  Matt 7:24

How did their decision to do nothing affect the world?  Very negatively.  When the religious leaders are corrupt, the followers are corrupt.  When the leaders are apathetic, the followers are the same.  Don’t play follow the leader unless your leader is Jesus.  Don’t follow your pastor.  Only follow him as he follows Christ.

Now briefly consider Joseph. He represents the common people.  The common person believed that God spoke in dreams, so sure enough, that is how God spoke to Joseph four times.

How does God speak to people? In ways they can understand.  God wants to be understood and He has spoken in ways that we can understand.  He has made His Truth as plain as He knows how.  If we do not see God, it is not God’s fault.  If we do not hear from God, it is not God’s fault.

How does Joseph respond to the Truth?  Instant obedience.  He obeyed.  He never argued, never debated, never delayed.  1:24; 2:13; 2:19; 2:22

How did his response affect the world? Greatly.  He was part of God’s plan for the ages.

Do you see the obvious teaching from Matthew 2?  Jesus is born.  God is speaking.  God will communicate that Truth to us in various ways.  If we obey we will be blessed and be a blessing.  If we disobey, we will die and cause death to those around us.

Jesus is born.  He is the living Word of God.  Wise men still seek, follow, and worship Him.  You must make that decision to seek Him with all your heart.  No matter what it costs, it pays to follow the Truth that God is showing you.   What will you do with Jesus?

Matthew tells us very plainly that the plan of God is unfolding.  Nothing happens by accident.  God has a plan for your life.  The Bible says it is a good plan.  All the OT pointed to the Christ.  All that has happened in your life has brought you to this point.  God can use it all for good.  You must choose to obey the truth you have and keep seeking.

If God has been talking to you about the Truth of Jesus, I would invite you to make a commitment to begin following Jesus right now.  Listen to the Word that has been spoken and is being spoken by the God of the Universe of this age and the age to come.  God came into the sphere of time and spoke.  He said, “Jesus!” in a way that you can understand.

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