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Christmas – God’s Special Revelation
In a Peanut’s cartoon, Charlie Brown goes up to Lucy and says, “Someone said we should live each day as if it were the last day of our lives.”
Lucy then runs out screaming, “Aaugh, this is the last day, this is it. I only have 24 hours left! Help me! Help me! This is the last day. Aaugh”
Charlie Brown, now all alone, muses, “Some philosophies aren’t for all people.”
As we look at today’s message there’s a reality, which is, philosophies, science, and nature can only take a person so far. What’s needed from there is a special revelation from God.
Read Matthew 2:1-12
When looking at the Wise Men, many wonder, “Who are these wise guys?”
The actual word that is used is “Magi.” These were priests or counselors whose origins are generally Eastern and most likely from the region of Babylon who wandered from court to court, attending births, coronations, and the major events of their day, and so they were use to traveling distances.
They were the experts of their day in the sciences of astronomy, philosophy, and psychology, along with the study of astrology, interpretation of dreams, and the occultic arts. They served as royal court advisors making forecasts and predictions based upon their studies.
As these Wise Men were practicing their craft there appeared in the heavens a star, a heavenly sign that something great was happening. It was in the Western sky pointing them to the land of Judea.
As I said these men were well studied, and familiar with the prophecies from various lands. Therefore they would have been familiar with the writings of God’s prophets.
They would have been aware of the writings of Daniel who actually lived in Babylon during the time of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and Cyrus, King of the Medes and Persians.
In one of Daniel’s prophecies he wrote down God’s word that 70 weeks, or 70 groups of 7 years, which comes form the word he used, “heptad,” had been determined upon the nation of Israel for complete restoration, and this was to begin with the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:24-27)
But one week before the end, or 69 weeks, the Messiah the prince would come and then die.
So it would have been 483 years from the time when Artaxerxes Longimanus gave the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem which was around 445 B.C., and so the time for the Messiah was now at hand.
These Wise Men would have also been familiar with the prophecy of one of their own, Balaam. It was a prophecy given while he was trying to curse Israel for King Balak of Moab while Israel was wandering in the wilderness.
He said, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” (Numbers 24:7 NKJV)
With these portents they headed west to the land of Judea to find a great king of Israel. Therefore it was little wonder when showing up on King Herod’s doorstep they asked
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2 NKJV)
They came following a star, a sign in the heavens. They came based upon their studies and observations. But while such studies may lead us in the right direction, they don’t lead us to the fullness of the truth.
Notice that the star and their studies didn’t lead them to Bethlehem and Jesus, rather it lead them to Jerusalem.
When the people look to the heavens and nature and try to find meaning, these will only lead them so far. It shows that a Creator must exist, that evolution is a farce, and it shows that there is something more to life than mere existence.
Paul in his letter to the Romans says,
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”(Romans 1:20 NKJV)
Paul is saying that God is easily discernable in nature. He’s saying the Lord, who Himself is invisible, makes Himself known through what He has created. That when someone looks at the universe the only conclusion they can come up with is that God exists.
King David said,
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)
Yet, in and of itself, these studies and such knowledge only takes a person so far.
In 1992 a member of the American Physical Society, an organization working to advance the knowledge of physics, said,
“It is difficult to know what the appropriate reaction to such a mind-expanding discoveries would be, except to get down on one’s knees in total humility and give thanks to God, or Big Bang, or both, for cunningly contriving to allow this infinitesimal part of the universe called earth to be bestowed with something called air.”
And that brings us back to my proposition, that the study of nature, astronomy, and the other sciences lead people to the potential of the existence of God, but it comes up short in bringing them to belief.
What is needed is a special revelation from the Creator Himself.
And so men continues to search, and always comes up empty. Therefore they turn to religion.
Let’s go back to the Wise Men’s journey. Again, the star and their studies didn’t lead them to Bethlehem and Jesus, but rather it leads them to Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Jerusalem was not only the political capital of the land, but it was also the center of Jewish religion because God’s temple resided there.
And so we’re back to our premise, that the sciences and religion can only lead us so far.
Today people are searching for meaning. They try humanism and the other sciences, but have found that they leave them empty inside. That they no longer satisfy. They still have this spiritual void deep within.
Today there exist a great spiritual hunger, and so to fill this spiritual void people begin to turn to religion.
America is a very pluralistic society, that is, we are very diverse in race and religion. Not only is every race present in America but they’ve also brought their form or brand of religion and spirituality with them. On top of this we’ve got a lot of home grown religions and spiritual beliefs that are present. In 2008 there were 313 recognizable religions and denominations in America, and remember these are the ones that are registered; there are many more that are not. And today there is a trend towards “none of the above.”
So I think it’s safe to say that Christianity is no longer the religion of America. Those of the Protestant faith, the faith that founded this country, have dropped around five percentage points. (Pew Research Center)
And so to answer their spiritual hunger and fill that spiritual void, people go to the Jerusalem’s of our day, and ask the same questions these Wise Men asked, and these questions trouble the religious leaders of our day as they did in their day, especially those who have made religion their god.
When the Wise Men asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” The political and religious establishment was troubled and upset, because they couldn’t answer them, they hadn’t a clue, and they were the ones who were suppose to know.
People today are searching with questions about the God of the universe. “Who is He?” “Where is He?” “How can we know Him?” And religion is troubled because the traditions they hold onto can not answer these questions nor do they satisfy the hunger.
And those who are searching see the hypocrisy of how those who belong to these religions are living their lives as compared to what they say they believe.
Their faith, you see, is tied to a set of rituals, rules, and traditions, and not to a living, loving relationship with the Lord God who created the universe.
God has placed in creation signs that point to His existence, and people down through the ages have tried to find Him, but He cannot be found except by special revelation, as found in God’s word.
After being asked, “Where is He,” Herod went to the scribes and priests who searched the Scriptures and found in the book of Micah the following passage.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2 NKJV)
People have questions, and only the Bible has the answers to what humanity needs most.
But I’d like you to notice something else, that God’s word spoken by these religious leaders didn’t effect them. If it had they would have joined the Wise Men on their Journey to Bethlehem.
You see, while they had the Scriptures, the Scriptures didn’t have them. They had the knowledge but they didn’t have a relationship with the author.
When Jesus confronted these religious leaders He said,
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39 NKJV)
The Scriptures tell us what we need to know, but it’s our responsibility to apply them. The Scriptures tell us of our sin and our need for a Savior, and they point to Jesus Christ as that Savior. But knowing this doesn’t lead to eternal life. Acting upon what we know and doing it, believing it, and accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord is what brings eternal life.
So the Wise Men now followed the Scriptures and in so doing found Jesus, as the star rose once again and illuminated the way.
Now I’d like you to notice one more thing. After finding Jesus they were warned by God to take another route home than the one they took coming.
Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord we are to no longer walk in our former ways. God warns us that we need to walk on a new path,
Science, nature, and religion can only take us so far. They cannot redeem, save, or give eternal life. It’s only when we believe in the truth of God’s word and then come to the cross of Jesus Christ.
The Wise Men sought the One who would be king, and found Him through God’s special revelation. God has revealed Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, for all those who seek today as well.
Jesus revealed this very truth saying,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6 NKJV)
Wednesday Evening Bible Study