Who were the wise men in the Christmas story?
Rev. Shine P. Thomas
The wise men are the mystery men in the Christmas story. We have heard a lot about these wise men from childhood days, but as we study the scripture we find that there are many unanswered questions about the wise men.
How many were there? We donít know.
At the time of Jesusí birth there were 2 powerful empires in the world, the Romans and the Parthians. Romans controlled the western territory and the Parthians ruled the eastern territories including Israel. Parthian territory is the same territory that was formerly called as the Babylonian Kingdom. Babylon was defeated by the Persians who were in turn defeated by the Parthians, all this while Israel was under the eastern control. In 60 BC the Romans defeated the Parthians and took over Israel. Now the eastern kingdom right from the time of the Babylonians kings who ruled with the help of a priestly cast called as the wise men. The Bible mentions about it and Daniel was one such wise man in the Babylonian kingdom.
Daniel 2:48 Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.
Daniel was in charge of all wise men in Babylon. Therefore we understand the wise men came from Babylon in the east which in Jesusí time was called as Parthia.
How did these wise men know about Jesus?
How did the Wise Men know that the star they saw in the sky was so special that they set out on a very long journey on camels to go present gifts to the coming King? Wait a minute! Who told them about a King? How could they have known anything about the impending birth of the Jewish Messiah that had been prophesied for so many years?
In 605 BC the Babylonians conquered Israel and the mighty men were taken captive. King Nebuchadnezzar then appointed a priestly class called the magi or the Wise Men who were the best in giving advice and interpreting any dream to the king.
One day King Nebuchadnezzar had a horrifying dream, a dream he could neither remember the details nor know what it meant. The King gathered together all his "Wise Men", including Daniel, and demanded they tell him what the dream was and what it meant. He threatened all the Wise Men with death if they could not tell him what he dreamed and what it meant. As the Kingís soldiers were rounding up all the Wise Men to put them to death, Daniel asked for a one-day extension. That night, after much prayer from Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah God revealed the dream to Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar spared the lives of Daniel and all the Magi. (Daniel 2:1-19)
Therefore Daniel became the head of the wise men and all wise men held Daniel in very high esteem. From that moment on, the Magi revered Daniel and his God-given insights greatly. They got hold of the OT scriptures and the writings of Daniel which clearly mentions the coming of the Messiah. The scriptures pointed out to a coming king of the Jews called Jesus. Once they knew a Messiah would come they looked for the signs. Finally they saw a star rise up. The wise men left their houses to see the Messiah.
While Godís people, the Jews failed to understand the birth of the Messiah, here we have a few wise men that set out to see the King, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. That is the same today. While the gospel of Jesus Christ is foolishness to many of our friends and powerful people of the world, it is the power of God for you and me. Those who follow Jesus Christ are the wise men of today.