|Matthew 2 |
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, "Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east at its rising, and have come to worship him."
3 When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 And they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it was written by the prophet [Micah],
7 Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, inquired diligently of them what time the star had appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And after coming into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented to him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.1
12 Then being warned by God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed to their own country a different way.
13 Now when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt; and stay there until I bring you word, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him."
14 And when he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt.
15 And they remained there until the death of Herod. Thus it was fulfilled, which had been spoken of the Lord by the prophet [Hosea] who said, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and the vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
17 Then it was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah who said,
19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 Saying, "Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the young child's life are dead."
21 And he arose and taking the young child and his mother, came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, having being warned by God in a dream. So he turned aside into the region of Galilee.
23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth. Thus it was fulfilled, what had been spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."2
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1 they presented to him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This is the supposed reason for exchanging gifts at Christmas; but notice, the kings gave gifts to the new King of the Jews, whom they came to worship, believing him to be a god. So, how does that relate to people giving each other gifts? It doesn't. The exchange of presents was long a Roman tradition, celebrating their god, Saturn. This celebration of indulgence in pleasures, named Saturnalia, took place for one week, ending on December 23, later extended to December 25. December 25th was also the birthday of the UnConquered Sun God of Rome, the winter Solstice. In 336 AD, Roman Emperor Constantine* officially converted these pagan traditions into the "Christian" holiday of Christmas, and with it the exchange of gifts continues today. We in no way imitate the wise men's honoring of the new King of the Jews with gifts, (a tradition of gifts to kings); instead we give to each other usually without any real need of the receiver and expecting a gift in return. In this Roman pagan imitation we encourage covetousness, materialism, wasteful use of the creation, and pride. The only real beneficiaries of this heathenish tradition are the merchants who promote Christmas to increase their profits and sales. When the origins of Christmas were first recognized, its celebration in Protestant Europe almost disappeared between 1640-1800, only to be revived by the guilt trip of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
*Roman Emperor Constantine had effectively become the head of the "Christian" church. He had boiled his wife to death, poisoned his son, and authorized persecution against a Christian sect (the Donatists) that dissented from the official catholic doctrine, which persecution included seizure of all sect property, exile of all sect leaders, and armed force against others; this was the first instance of "Christians" persecuting "Christians." Just as the Book of Revelation in the Bible predicted, the church had adulterated with the kings of the earth, whose motivations were greed, lust, power, and fame; thus the Roman Emperors prostituted the church, which became the Whore of Babylon. With the crushing boot of the Roman army, the true church was stamped out by 388 AD.
Christ is the mountain of frankincense and hill of myrrh. Song 4:6: Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. Notice, until the day breaks, (until the morning star appears in your hearts, which is the shining of the light to give knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus); until the day breaks and the darkness is gone, we flee to the mountain, which is Christ, to abide in him. From George Fox's Book 6:
Christ is the mountain that filled the whole earth: The stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands, which broke to pieces the great image of iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold, and broke them to pieces, that the image became like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them; and this stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. ’Dan 2:35.
This stone, which is Christ, breaks to pieces those great Goliaths, and their kingdoms; the great image of gold, was the Babylonian monarchy, and of silver, was the Medes and Persians' monarchy, and of brass, was the Grecians' monarchy, and of iron and clay was the Roman monarchy; and in the days of the Roman monarchy Christ came, who said, ‘All power in heaven and earth is given unto me, and his kingdom was not of this world.’ Mat 28:8. And so in the days of these four monarchies, which were called the great image, Christ's kingdom was set up, which stands forever. So Christ is the stone, that breaks this great image to pieces, ‘and became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.’ Dan 2:35-45. Mark, this mountain became so great, that it filled the whole earth, and if it filled the whole earth, then all the people of the earth may see it.
This image of gold, silver, brass, iron, and clay, was the four monarchies which the stone broke to pieces; and in the days of these kings, (namely, the four monarchies), shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom ‘shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces all those kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.’ Dan 2:44.
Isaiah and Micah said, ‘It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow to it, and many nations shall go and say, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,.. and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ Isa 2:2-3, Micah 4:2. Is not this mountain which is established on the top of all mountains, and exalted above all the hills, Christ Jesus, the mountain that fills the whole earth, to whom all nations must flow, to be taught God's ways, and walk in his paths? And does not Christ, this holy mountain, by whom all things were made, that fills the whole earth, enlighten every man that comes into the world, that with this light, which is the life in Christ, (I say, that with this true light), they might all see Christ, the holy and great mountain, that fills the whole earth? Yes, I say, all the men that come into the world, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, Christ enlightens every one of those who comes into the world, that with his light they might see him, the great mountain that fills the whole earth, exalted above all the hills and mountains in the earth; for Christ, the great mountain, fills the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the heavenly New Jerusalem.
This is the kingdom of Christ: of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with justice and with righteousness from this time forward even forever. Isa 9:7. This is the kingdom that we can enter while on earth and be there forever, which Kingdom Jesus came to make accessible to us and what he preached:
Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Mat 4:17
2 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth. Thus it was fulfilled, what had been spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene." In our current versions of the Old Testament, there is no such direct reference in the books of the prophets. Most scholars attribute this to the fact that anyone from Nazareth was held in contempt by the rest of Israel in that time; therefore being called a Nazarene is just another reference to how Jesus would be despised by Israel. The reference to the plural prophets lends great credibility to this view, as the below references support:
But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men and despised by the people. All those who see me laugh at me and mock me; they shoot out the lip [make faces at me], they wag [shake] their head. Psa 22:6-7.
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem him. Isa 52:2-3.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. Psa 118:22.
This view, (that Nazarene was simply an expression of contempt), is strongly supported by Nathanael's derogatory comment to Phillip, regarding Jesus' origin: And Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets, wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" But Philip said to him, "Come and see." John 1:45-46. Further credibility of this explanation is the fact that God typically chooses those of little repute to be the recipient of his favors; so, since Nazareth was held in contempt by the rest of Israel, God would be expected to favor such a region with the origin of the Messiah, thus to confound the wise and self-righteous.
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