LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
We are in our series on the life of Christ from all 4 gospels and this morning we are in Matthew 2 for our message titled – “LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT.” All of us are comfortable around people who are just like us in background and likes/dislikes but when we get around people who are different, we feel awkward, threatened, and we even try to avoid them. God wants us to step out of our comfort zone and reach people no matter who they are.
Matt. 2 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him….9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Overall Background: In a few weeks Nicole is going to pull out our Christmas decorations. It’s our family tradition to come together and put up the Christmas tree, ornaments, wreaths, candles, and especially, the nativity sets. One goes on the piano and the other on the table behind the couch. Just like the passage we read, both the sets have the three wise men with gifts in their hands, dressed like medieval kings with purple, blue, and green robes and crowns on their heads. In fact, some Christmas songs even refer to them as the three kings. Only problem – it’s not the truth! The actual words are “magi from the east.” The magi were nothing like what we have made them out to be. They were from Persia (modern day Iran). They were star-gazer, astronomers, astrologers, dream interpreters and sorcerers. Our English word “magic” actually comes from the word magi. They did not have the best reputation. Jewish people looked down on them with suspicion and disdain. Even the Romans did not like them and many times they were kicked out of Rome and Italy. In short, the magis were different and, yet, for some reason, they were on God’s guest list for the birth of Jesus. Why did God do that? To remind us that Jesus came not just to save one group of people but all people. His sacrifice on the cross was not just for the insiders but also for the outsiders. We like to reach out just to our own types but the Great Commission is to go to all types of people and make disciples.
Application: Let me ask you a question – How do you respond to people who are different? Do you avoid them? Do you look down on them? Do you ridicule them or try to intimidate them? We are never more like God than when we forgive and when we love people who are different than us.
To understand the magi and who told them about Jesus and why they came, we have to go back about 600 years to the time of Daniel. It is Daniel who holds the key to the mystery of the magis. As we look at the interaction between Daniel and the magis, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to love people who are different.
1. LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT DOES NOT MEAN COMPROMISING YOUR CONVICTIONS.
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Background: You remember Daniel – how Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonians, had taken him along with other young men from Judah into exile. They were gifted and wise and they were placed in a three-year training program for the service of the king. They were to eat from the king’s table and drink his wine but Daniel along with the other men remained firm in their convictions. They had made up their mind that they would not eat the food from the king’s table. Why? Because it had been offered to false gods. They challenged the head of the program to let them eat just vegetables and drink water for 10 days and see if it made any difference. At the end of the 10 days, they actually looked better than the rest.
Three years later, their training was completed. Listen to verse 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. Daniel and the other young men stood firm in their convictions and, in the end, they were 10 times better than the other magis.
Sometimes we think that loving other people means we need to compromise our convictions or water down the truth. Daniel and the other young men honored God and God honored them. Our world needs to see people who are firm in biblical convictions. We believe there is only one God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe that the Bible is the only Word of God. We believe that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life. We believe that this nation was founded upon biblical values. We still believe that this is a Christian nation. Loving people does not mean we need to compromise.
Application: Are you a person of biblical convictions? Do you stand for the truth? Do you speak up for the truth?
2. LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT MEANS LETTING GOD OPEN OPPORTUNITIES TO WITNESS.
Daniel 2:2 Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams.
Background: King Nebuchadnezzar began to have nightmares. They were so bad that he couldn’t sleep. So he called the Chaldeans and gave a strange command – “tell me my dreams.” Their response – “Tell us your dreams and we’ll give you the interpretations. We can read your palms or watch the pattern of birds flying or look at the position of the stars or examine the liver of a special sheep or chicken.” The King said, “You’re a bunch of liars. You’re trying to buy time.” Listen to verse 10 The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean.” What is the king’s response in verse 12-13 “…the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.
Daniel went to God in prayer and God revealed to him the dream as well as the interpretation. So Daniel went before the king and listen to what he said in verse 30 “But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living…” Meaning: Daniel did not use this as an opportunity to attack the Chaldeans. He could have said – “Kill them. They are a bunch of liars. They are crooks.” Instead, he knows that God has a greater purpose in mind.
Sometimes we have a wrong attitude towards people who are different. We say things that should not be said. We act in ways that we should not act. In the process we lose all opportunity to witness to them.
Daniel explained the dream to the King and as a result verse 48 “Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon.”
Later Cyrus diverted the water of the Euphrates River that entered and his soldiers literally walked under the walls of the city in ankle-deep water. The Babylonian empire became the Medo-Persian empire overnight.
Next, you know how the new king under Cyrus, King Darius was deceived into throwing Daniel into the Lion’s Den. God shut the mouth of the lions. The king was so moved that he made a decree in Daniel 6:25-26 “ . . . To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end.
God made Daniel so influential that people all over the earth heard the gospel of the living God through him.
The priestly class of the magi now joined in with the Chaldeans.
WOW! Can you imagine how Daniel used this opportunity to tell them about the coming of the Messiah?!! Have you ever read the book of Daniel?!! It is filled with Messianic prophecies. In fact, he prophesied the exact time of the death of the Messiah in Daniel 9.
Daniel 9:24-27 24 “Seventy weeks (the word for weeks is actually seven. Literally this should read “seventy seven-year periods are determined for your people.” Seventy seven-year periods is 70X7 = 490 years.) are determined For your people and for your holy city (Jerusalem), To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. (when will this prophecy begin) 25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem (this command was given on March 5th of 444 BC by King Artaxerxes to Nehemiah) Until Messiah the Prince, (490 years starting in 444 BC. Keep in mind that they are using a 360 day year calendar along with leap years and it all works out perfectly.) (Prophecies are like riddles. Not all will be accomplished at one time.) There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; (69X7=483 years) The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. 26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself (483 years from 444 BC Jesus the Messiah will be go to the cross for our sins. Would you like to guess where that falls? It was March 30, AD 33 when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. And then Jesus died on the cross on April 3, AD 33); (I know it is hard to follow all this – And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, . . .” (This corresponds perfectly with the 7 year period of the Great Tribulation in the end times.)
What does this have to do with the seeing a star in the east? More than likely the magis had converted the information in Daniel 9 to correspond with the movements of the stars. Generation after generation since Daniel they were waiting for the star to appear that would signal the birth of Jesus. At the right time when the star appeared, they left their homes in the east and set out to locate the king of the Jews!
What if Daniel had refused to witness to the magis? What if Daniel had got them killed? We would have never had the three wise men in the nativity.
Don’t be afraid of people who are different. Stand firm in biblical convictions and let God open the opportunities for you to witness to them.
3. LOVING PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT MEANS BEING FAITHFUL IN WITNESSING AND TRUSTING GOD WITH THE RESULTS.
Daniel 12 8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” 9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end…12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. 13 “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”
Almost 600 years later the magi came. All in God’s timing!
Matthew 8:11 11And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 13:29-30 29They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
Are you sharing Jesus with those who are different? Do you know Him as your Savior?