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Christ’s First Advent, Part 3
“We Have Seen His Star”
“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, 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.’ ” Matthew 2:1-2.
The wise men from the East were philosophers. They belonged to a
large and influential class that included men of noble birth, and comprised
much of the wealth and learning of their nation. Among these were many who
imposed on the credulity of the people. Others were upright men who studied the
indications of Providence in nature, and who were honored for their integrity
and wisdom. Of this character were the wise men who came to Jesus.
The light of God is ever shining amid the darkness of
heathenism. As these magi studied the starry heavens, and sought to fathom the
mystery hidden in their bright paths, they beheld the glory of the Creator.
Seeking clearer knowledge, they turned to the Hebrew Scriptures. In their own
land were treasured prophetic writings that predicted the coming of a divine
teacher. Balaam belonged to the magicians, though at one time a prophet of God;
by the Holy Spirit he had foretold the prosperity of Israel and the appearing
of the Messiah; and his prophecies had been handed down by tradition from
century to century. But in the Old Testament the Saviour’s advent was more
clearly revealed. The magi learned with joy that His coming was near, and that
the whole world was to be filled with a knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
Following the Star
The wise men had seen a mysterious light in the heavens upon
that night when the glory of God flooded the hills of Bethlehem. As the light
faded, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the sky. It was not a fixed
star nor a planet, and the phenomenon excited the keenest interest. That star
was a distant company of shining angels, but of this the wise men were
ignorant. Yet they were impressed that the star was of special import to them.
They consulted priests and philosophers, and searched the scrolls of the
ancient records. The prophecy of Balaam had declared, “A Star shall come out of
Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Numbers 24:17.
Could this strange star have been sent as a harbinger of the Promised One? The
magi had welcomed the light of heaven-sent truth; now it was shed upon them in
brighter rays. Through dreams they were instructed to go in search of the
As by faith Abraham went forth at the call of God, “not knowing
where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8); as by faith Israel
followed the pillar of cloud to the Promised Land, so did these Gentiles go
forth to find the promised Saviour. The Eastern country abounded in precious
things, and the magi did not set out empty-handed. It was the custom to offer
presents as an act of homage to princes or other personages of rank, and the
richest gifts the land afforded were borne as an offering to Him in whom all
the families of the earth were to be blessed. It was necessary to journey by
night in order to keep the star in view; but the travelers beguiled the hours
by repeating traditional sayings and prophetic utterances concerning the One
they sought. At every pause for rest they searched the prophecies; and the
conviction deepened that they were divinely guided. While they had the star
before them as an outward sign, they had also the inward evidence of the Holy
Spirit, which was impressing their hearts, and inspiring them with hope. The
journey, though long, was a happy one to them.
Inquiring at Jerusalem
They have reached the land of Israel, and are descending the
Mount of Olives, with Jerusalem in sight, when, lo, the star that has guided
them all the weary way rests above the temple, and after a season fades from
their view. With eager steps they press onward, confidently expecting the
Messiah’s birth to be the joyful burden of every tongue. But their inquiries
are in vain. Entering the holy city, they repair to the temple. To their
amazement they find none who seem to have a knowledge of the newborn king.
Their questions call forth no expressions of joy, but rather of surprise and
fear, not unmingled with contempt.
The priests are rehearsing traditions. They extol their religion
and their own piety, while they denounce the Greeks and Romans as heathen, and
sinners above others. The wise men are not idolaters, and in the sight of God
they stand far higher than do these, His professed worshipers; yet they are
looked upon by the Jews as heathen. Even among the appointed guardians of the
Holy Oracles their eager questionings touch no chord of sympathy.
The Desire of Ages, pp. 59-61
Next part: Christ’s First Advent, Part
4: Herod and the Magi
All Scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version,
including those originally quoted by Ellen White from the King James
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