UNCOMFORTABLE OBEDIENCE (2020) by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
(A Christmas Eve Message, Christmas 2020)
Introduction: Once again, we want to welcome you to our Christmas Eve Service. For the past 2 Christmas Eves, we have been talking about “Uncomfortable Obedience.” There are many things that God commands us to do that we can do with a joyful and a willing heart. For example: studying his word, loving our family and children, and using our gifts in his service. But then, there are things that He commands us to do that are not as fun and exciting. They are uncomfortable. They push us past our limits. Sometimes, they are downright unbearable. How do we obey God even when it is uncomfortable? In 2018, we focused on how Joseph had to practice uncomfortable obedience in taking Mary to be his wife even though she was with a child that wasn’t his own. In 2019, we focused on how Mary had to practice uncomfortable obedience in being willing to carry a baby that she had no part in bringing into the world. Today, we will focus on how the magi had to practice uncomfortable obedience in following the star in the east and seek the king of the Jews.
Matthew 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.”
Background: Let me quickly give you a CliffsNotes on the magi:
- The magi were nothing like what we have made them out to be. For starters, they were not the “three wise men” or “the three kings.” The actual words are “magi from the east.”
- The magi were one of the 6 tribes of Media or Ancient Persia (modern day Iran).
- They were referred to as the “fire priests of Median.”
- They were stargazers, 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.
- According to tradition, they came from the city of Saveh in modern day Iran, which was 430 miles northeast of Bethlehem. That’s as far as from here to Atlanta. To make this journey, they had to cross the boundary of the Parthian kingdom and enter into the Roman territory, which was very dangerous. Not only that but they had to come into Palestine where the Jewish people didn’t like them much. But these magi were relentless. They were not going to stop until they found the King of the Jews – the Messiah!
- As the fire priests and king makers, they also brought some very special gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The big question is how did they find out about the coming of Jesus? We don’t know for sure but it could have been through Daniel. In Daniel we hear about the “magi” several times. Listen to Daniel 2 1 “Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. 2 Then the king gave the command to call the magicians (magous in the LXX), the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams…” Again, Daniel 5:15 “Now the wise men (magoi in the LXX), the astrologers, have been brought in before me (Belshazzar), that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing.” Daniel not only distinguished himself under both the Babylonian empire but also in the Medo-Persian Empire. In fact, he was appointed the head of all the wise men of Babylon and later the Chaldeans.
In Daniel 9, the prophet Daniel actually gave a prophecy regarding the time of the coming of the Messiah. Daniel 9 24 “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, 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. 25 ‘Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; 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…”
Where am I going with this? 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!
This week everyone was talking about the Christmas Star in the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the Southwestern horizon. The last time these two planets were this close was about 400 years ago and the last time this happened at night, when people could actually see it, was about 800 years ago! Next time it will be in 2080.
Here’s the point:
- The magi had to faithfully study the prophecy of Daniel.
- Generation after generation they had to pass down the knowledge of the prophecy to their descendants
- When God added the “star in the east,” they had to set out from their comfortable homes across 400 miles of rugged and dangerous lands to look for the promised one.
- They had to be willing to face the ridicule and threat of Herod and Jerusalem in asking where the Savior of the world was born.
- Once they saw him with Mary and Joseph, they had to be willing to humble themselves and worship him with their gifts.
So also, when it comes to following Christ, it’s not easy. There will be uncomfortable obedience. Even coming here this evening may not have been easy for some of you. You were willing to obey God than to fear human beings or anything else.
Not everything God tells us to do will be pleasant. Sometimes, it will be uncomfortable. But if we claim to love him unconditionally, we have to obey him joyfully.
What is God calling you to do? Maybe to make things right with someone. Maybe to give towards his work. Maybe to share the gospel with someone. Maybe to surrender to some calling he has for you. You will have to set aside your comfort, others’ opinions, and personal fears.
Has he called you to be saved? Have you responded?