“My son, fear the Lord and the king; Do not associate with those who are given to change, for their calamity will rise suddenly, And who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?” – Proverbs 24:21-22 (NASB)
What are we to do when we find in Scripture directions and instructions that seem unreasonable? Are we to think that “surely it doesn’t really mean that” and go on creating an adapted meaning that fits our reason? No. Today’s passage instructs us to fear the LORD (No problem with that is there?) and the king! This is identifying our responsibility to whoever, by any title, is our head of state. Our independence naturally kicks against submission. We hear the cry for the sovereignty of the people. As the picture of those manipulators has been drawn to life nearly two thousand years ago—“walking after the flesh—despising government—presumptuous, self-willed—not afraid to speak evil of dignities.” Such men love change for the sake of change. The leaders of the parties disturb the public peace, by promising changes, however without any assurance of fulfillment.* Loyalty to the king is proper because he is the agent of the Lord’s wisdom—believe it or not; (Deuteronomy 17:14–20; Romans 13:1–7). That loyalty includes having no part with rebels who seek to subvert or overthrow the king (“change”). Peter draws on this verse in his call to good citizenship in 1 Peter 1:17; 2:17.
* Charles Bridges, An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1865), 387.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”” Matthew 2:102 (NASB)
Who were these magi that came from far away to worship Jesus and why did they come anyway? They came as a lesson to us that Jesus’ coming as a human to earth was for the whole world. Promises for Israel and promises to the whole world. Though not all scholars agree on the timing of the arrival of the Magi from the East, they apparently came some time after the birth of Jesus. Jesus and Mary and Joseph, though still in Bethlehem, were now in a house (Matthew 2:11), and Jesus was called a Child (Matthew 2:9,11) rather than a newborn Infant,(Luke 2:12). Because traditional images and nativity settings as well as Christmas time programs merge the birth of Jesus with the visits of the shepherd and the magi we think it all happened rather close to the same time. How many came? We do not know. The three gifts given by the maji has become the reason we think of “Three Kings.” They were not even kings but were “A caste of wise men specializing in astronomy, astrology, and natural science.” Calling them “wise men” is a more accurate identification.
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2 (ESV)
When the maji came to Jerusalem, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, they were looking for the one who was born to be King of the Jews. The supposed king at that time was Herod. He became concerned about this news, asked the Jewish leaders where the Messiah was to be born. They answered by quoting from an Old Testament prophet by the name of Micah. Our verse today is from the writings of Micah. The last words of this quotation remind us what a wonderful savior we have. The baby born in Bethlehem at that time came from the days of eternity. Sometimes we think of eternity as being without end. We must also remember it is also without beginning. One translation of this verse tells us that Jesus came from ‘time out of mind’. It is true that we find it difficult to conceive of Jesus, who was born as a human, as being without a beginning. But Jesus is God and has always been God. He created all that has ever been created. Let’s remember the promise that Jesus was, and has always been, and will always be the Son of God.