12.28.2005

The Rising of Immanuel, Part 2

Please read The Rising of Immanuel, Part 1 before reading Part 2.

"A sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red serpent. This great dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." Revelation 12:1-5
The Magoi knew that the appearance of the Virgin, the Lion of Judah, and the Serpent, all appearing on the eastern horizon, signaled the birth of the prophesied King. The King that would rule the nations with a rod of iron. And as they gazed on the brilliant star shining over the east, they knew they had to see this great sight for themselves. Almost a thousand miles away, in the tiny town of Bethlehem, shepherds gathered around a smelly cave in the side of the mountains. Above their heads a brilliant light made the night around them brighter than noonday. Inside the cave, surrounded by livestock, manure, and dirty hay, a man and his wife huddled around a feeding trough that contained a child wrapped in cloth used to clean newborn lambs. Remembering the awesome display of the angelic host a few minutes before, the shepherds were amazed at the relative simplicity of this heaven-announced birth. They fell to their knees and worshipped.

The Magoi had long since set out on their journey. And what a host they had with them! Each of the astronomers rode a mighty Persian elephant, guarded by a troop of mounted archers, the finest warriors in the Parthian military. Each of these in turn had an entourage of servants and slaves. This mighty caravan, exemplifying the strength of the East, numbered over a thousand. Over a year later, the Magoi and their troop neared the Judean border. Sentries guarding outposts sent couriers galloping to the palace of king Herod in Jerusalem. A young messenger made his way through the flanks of Roman legionnaires posted at the entrance to the chambers of Herod. "Personal message of highest import for the king. Personal message of highest import for the king." These words cleared the way as the young man entered the presence of the wrathful king. "Your majesty, our outposts have detected a vast Parthian army headed toward this city. Over a thousand of them, sir." Herod gnawed his lip in anger. The Parthian mounted archers were famous across the known world for their decisive tactics. The stiff, powerful ranks of the Roman legions had no defense against the volleys of lethal arrows rained down by the swift horsemen. "Send out a strong mounted skirmishing party under a flag of truce. If they come in peace, bring their leaders here. If not, turn out the Legions. All of them. That will be all." Herod terribly feared an overthrow of his precarious throne. He was an Edomite, and though the Jews were his distant cousins they hated each other bitterly. Who might know if the Parthian war horde would trigger another Jewish militia movement? The fearful king gritted his teeth in rage.

Atop his gigantic elephant, the leader of the Magoi spotted a group of armed horsemen coming toward them. "Emissaries from the Judeans, no doubt, coming to welcome those who would worship the newborn prince. Send out a truce party."

The small group of Magoi stood in the palace of Herod. "Where is the newborn King of the Jews?" asked their leader. "We have seen His star from the East, and we have come to worship Him." Although relieved to find that the Parthian army came for a peaceful purpose, Herod was greatly troubled by rumors that a king had just been born. He sent for the temple priests. "Where is the Messiah to be born?" the king demanded. "In Bethlehem of Judea, sir. The prophet Micah said His birthplace would be there."
"But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel." Micah 5:2
Herod, after telling the Magoi that Bethlehem was the birthplace of the new King, inquired when the star had first appeared. "We first saw the star over 15 months ago. We have come as fast as we could travel." "Well," replied the king cordially, "come back to my palace after you have found him. I would like to worship him as well." The Magoi left Jerusalem with an uneasy feeling. How would it be that the king would not know immediately where the newborn Prince was? Then they saw it. The star, brighter than ever, lit the way to the north. The Magoi set off at a gallop, their hearts ablaze. Finally, they would see the King.

"The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to Him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present Him gifts. Yes, kings shall worship Him." Psalm 72:10,11
On December 25th, 2 BC, the contingent of Persian astronomers with their vast cohort of bodyguards and servants galloped into the small hamlet of Bethlehem in Judea. The people of Bethlehem had grown accustomed to the brilliant light that shone over the slums in their city. When the shutters of their homes were closed, it was still as dark as ever. The Magoi rode straight to the home of Joseph Barjacob. Dismounting from their elephants, the men walked into the home of the boy Jesus and laid a fortune in Oriental spices and gold at His feet.

"A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more." Jeremiah 31:15
Herod gnawed his beard in rage. His spies had just brought word to him that the Parthian Magoi had departed from the land of Judea without coming back or telling him who the upstart king was. He barked an order to one of his men. "Kill them all!" "Kill whom, sir?" the orderly asked in confusion. "All of them!" the king howled. "Kill every male toddler in Bethlehem tonight!" "But sir, my family is in Beth--" The soldier dodged as a jewel-studded scepter flew past his head and crashed against a suit of armor on the wall. Herod leapt from his seat, clutching his sword. His face was livid. "Kill them!" the king screamed, the veins standing out on his throat.

Joseph, having been told in a dream to take his wife and son to Egypt, left that very night. Just minutes later, Herod's troops swept through the town, killing every male child they could find.

". . . out of Egypt I called my Son." Hosea 11:1
A few years later, Joseph left Egypt with Mary and the boy Jesus, and traveled to Nazareth to set up a carpentry shop with the last of the money left by the Magoi.
In Him, D3

2 comments:

Travis said...

Man, the way you told that story is awesome David! I had never thought of the Magi arriving with a small army and mounted on elephants! But it would make sense, if you were a king or even a high ranking noble it would be highly unlikely that you would travel without an armed entourage. Thanks your the great retelling of the Christ's coming. :-)

David Ketter said...

Awesome!