I’m sure you know what the TEN lords-a-leaping matches, in the Old Testament… (there’s your hint!)
Would the guys we talked about in yesterday’s sermon have known about those 10 things? Likely, since similar "rules for life" were around, from ancient times. And after all, they were "wise" men. They were the ones that kings turned to for advice–interpreters of dreams and stars, respected by all… except Jews, and later Christians. In fact, in the 3rd century, it was the Christians who started calling them "kings" instead of wise men, since it was uncomfortable to think that "Magi", or "magic-workers" actually came to worship Jesus.
Carol showed us a whole slew of facts that have been added to the nativity story, but we love what she said about scholarship. We don’t need to try and work out all the details, because there are many, many scholars who have already done it. We can just enjoy the story the way we’re used to it, but scholars are important because they remind us to go back to what the Bible actually says. For example, all we really know from the text about the wise men, is that they were well-respected, high-society (they got an audience with King Herod), there was more than one of them, they were "from the East", and fairly wealthy (the gifts they brought).
And Matthew, knowing how it would create problems with the Jews and Christians, really does say that they were astrologers and magic-workers. I’m sure he would have avoided recording that if it wasn’t so obviously true! The wonderful thing about that is, God led them so definitely to where Jesus was, and then spoke to them so clearly in a way they were used to–dreams (to tell them to return by a different route. In fact, the verses suggest that they actually asked God; they must have been suspicious of Herod.) God led these Gentiles, and wants to lead anyone to Jesus, who has a desire to know Truth.
And now here’s another astounding fact about God’s leading. The wise men, after receiving that instruction in the dream, obeyed without question. As a result of their obedience, all the babies in Bethlehem ended up being put to death. Sometimes things seem very difficult and hard to understand, even when we do obey.
There’s more, but it can wait for another post, since this is getting long!