Saturday, November 28, 2009
When I first discovered that the prophet Daniel became head of the Magi in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court (Dan. 2:48), I was blown away. I was in a seminary class around Christmastime, so the timing was remarkable. At a Christmas Eve service, the pastor asked the congregation if anyone knew the connection between the Magi of the Christmas story and an ancient prophet of Israel. I was the only one who knew.
Since the real story was so much more intriguing (and realistic) than our 3-Wise-Men tradition, I wanted to tell it in a coffee-table book. My son, a professional illustrator in NY, did all the artwork. We actually produced the whole book long distance, with lots of instant-messaging sessions while on our cell phones discussing details, then uploading finished pages onto our printer’s FTP website.
We named it Who Were the Magi? and produced it as a Biblically and historically accurate coffee-table book so people could learn the whole story and enjoy it at Christmas.
The story opens with the Magi and the cavalry in Parthia (Babylon) saying goodbye to their families and taking their places in the caravan. Yes, there were more than three Magi, and they traveled in a government-protected caravan. The Magi of the Christmas story were king-makers (not kings) – the highest government officials in the land. Just think, how long do you figure three guys dressed as kings, carrying the most expensive gifts, would last in the desert? Probably 5 minutes. They just didn’t travel that way in those days.
In the story, you will travel in the caravan with the Magi as they journey to find the promised Messiah, whose sign has appeared in the Eastern sky. How did they know to look for a sign at that time, and what it meant?
When Daniel became head of the Magi, he had a captive audience of all the Babylonian Magi who worshipped many gods, but, as we found out in Chapter 2, their gods couldn’t keep up with the God of Israel. Daniel then had the opportunity to teach them all about His God. He also wrote many prophecies during that time (which we’ll discuss in later blog posts) that told of end-time events.
One particular vision, which we call the Seventy-Weeks prophecy, gave us the exact timeline for when the Messiah would enter Jerusalem, being hailed as king, down to the exact day. That is how the Magi knew when and where to look for the Messiah. They had preserved Daniel’s prophecies (known as the Book of Daniel) over six centuries.
The story continues as the Magi enter Jerusalem (Matt. 2: 1-18) and cause somewhat of a panic. Israel was caught in the middle of the conflict between Rome and Parthia, and the Magi were feared because people thought they might depose King Herod. No, they were just searching for the newborn king of the Jews. They got information from the Hebrew scribes about where to look for Messiah and left for Bethlehem. However, Herod didn’t like the idea of being upstaged by a baby, so he ordered the massacre of all boys under the age of two in Bethlehem. By the time the Magi arrived in Jerusalem, it could have been a year or two after the birth of Jesus. They actually found Him in a house, over which a mysterious light shone.
The word “star” could have meant any light in the heavens, so it was probably not what we normally call a star. How many stars have you seen that shine on one particular house? This light was something else, and in the story, the Magi discuss where something like this was seen before in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The story tells of the Magi’s deep sorrow over deaths of the innocents and ends 30 years later when they hear the good news of a popular rabbi in Israel who was executed but then rose from the dead three days later. They were filled with joy, once they connected that rabbi with the child they visited three decades earlier. Finally, their journey made sense.
If you’d like to buy our book for yourself or as a Christmas present, you can find it on Amazon.com. It is not in bookstores. I hope your reading is blessed!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
If you missed my last post on October 19, you might want to read it so this post makes sense. In it I gave you the background of what was going on with everyone connected with Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream, including the Magi.
Let's take a look at the dream that terrified him: He saw a huge statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of part iron and part clay. Then a stone was cut out – not by humans – and thrown at the feet of the statue. The entire statue broke up and crushed as it fell, sort of like the Twin Towers on 9/11. It became like sawdust that blew away in the wind, leaving no trace. Then the stone became a mountain and covered the whole earth.
The king wanted his counselors, who were the Wise Men, or Magi, to tell him the meaning of the dream – only there was one problem – he couldn’t remember it. So he required them to tell him the dream itself. They insisted that no human could do such a thing, and their gods were inaccessible. So he sentenced all the Magi to death.
Remember, Daniel was one of the Magi, so his life was in danger, too. Since he was the only one who was not an astrologer, magician, or sorcerer, and instead relied on God, he was given time to ask God for the answer. That night God gave him the dream – and its interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar was stunned as Daniel told him precisely what the dream was and what it meant. As a result, the king made Daniel head over all the Magi and prime minister of Babylon. I never knew that before – did you?
The statue represented the four major empires of the world from then until now, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar as the golden head. Each succeeding empire would be inferior, just like the metals on the statue. Babylon would be replaced by Medo-Persia (silver chest and arms), then Greece (bronze belly and thighs), then Rome (iron legs). Rome was never conquered, and the seeds of it are starting to sprout up again as the global government of the New World Order is emerging (iron/clay toes).
We are now beginning to witness this New World Order being set up in Belgium, with our own president Obama playing a major role in it. It is supposed to be divided into 10 major areas of the world (10 toes), eventually headed up by the Antichrist. Talk about watching prophecy unfold before our very eyes! It would take a global crisis to set up a global government to solve the problem, and our current global economic crisis is a good “crisis to not waste.”
The Millennial Kingdom of Christ is just around the corner, so to speak, and it will leave no trace of the terrible reign of the Antichrist and the subsequent Great Tribulation. Look up and be encouraged – Jesus is coming soon! Are you looking forward to this or dreading it? Now is the time to find out which judgment you’ll be attending – either the Rewards Ceremony of Jesus, or the Great White Throne Judgment of the condemned. You don’t want to be at that one.