And when they were come 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 unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 KJV
The wise men not only pursued the sign of the King they also bought gifts. Their gifts were an expression of their worship. This expression when explored in a devotional way brings out some wonderful truths which I am going to explore in our series of Christmas Parallels.
Their gifts to the King were an expression to His Person
Their gifts display an understanding of their perception of the Mission of this King. One being a priestly symbol, another being a royal symbol, the other being a prophetic symbol. It is not a chance selection but a precise understanding they have come to. No-one doubts that they stood outside God’s covenant, however God privileged them as with many others with Divine Inclusion. We have 2 examples in the Old Testament of this with God, we have Rahab in Jericho who God included in the line of Judah. Then we also have Ruth a descendent of Rahab also. God is about including people in His Line to fulfil the eternal purpose. I believe we are in that kind of season. Christmas is about being “charitable” in that our acts of love can include people who are “outcasts” of society with accommodation, food, an extraordinary expression of care in a season traditionally seen as family celebrations. As much as we have this once a year God in contrast has the habit of inclusion, people who were outside the covenant and bringing them in. In the Old Testament the prophet declares that God includes a people who were not His people of covenant, to be grafted in through Christ. In each case we have cited here, those who were included in God’s plan were given a privilege of understanding that plan.
This year of 2020 there are many trying to understand God’s plan and have missed it. I believe that understanding is part of God’s inclusion. Also in the case of the Magi, they had a special insight into Baby Jesus. Their gifts to Him embody that expression of their understanding. What are you understanding? We need to grasp who Jesus is, that way we are led to understand what He has come to do in our generation. What we need to do is examine the 3 gifts and apply them in our worship of Him this Christmas.
1st Gift: Gold the Royal Standard
The first gift to be mentioned is that of Gold. It is symbolic of Royalty. What we do not get to hear, and yet this year and the years to come we need to embrace Jesus the King. There is something to be said concerning my favourite film: Lord of the Rings, Return of the King. Here the King is received in Gondor who brings in a era of peace never more experienced in Middle Earth.
This story is about the final manifestation of Jesus physically on the Earth as King. He will take the evil one from earth, comparable to the removal of Sauron in the above story. What the Magi were doing were embracing in their worship the King of kings. The Church needs a Revelation 1 experience. We need to come face to face with our Glorified Lord and King. He comes from heaven to join with flesh to combat flesh that had joined to the devil. What a journey that Jesus made. Philippians 2 is clear of that journey. In every dimension He was humiliated in God the Father exalted Him to the highest place.
In Revelation 5, we get the vision of the closed book, with 7 seals. No-one was found worthy. John wept, because he knew that these seals being opened will bring the fulness of the reign of Jesus the King. Yet He who overcame, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah overcame and was FOUND worthy. This being FOUND worthy is a legal term. There was no contest that He could open the seals, having overcome sin, death and hades. As we offer our recognition to Him this season, we are saying He is FOUND worthy to open the Seals of our lives so that the judicial work of Christ can also bring us into the fulness of Him. We need to visit that realm of revelation and insight to see that HE IS WORTHY, and He comes even now to lift us from the mists of human confusion to see the wheels of eternity PERFECTLY working out every purpose to bring His Reign upon the Earth, and bring His Redeemed with Him. Let us worship Him as King and He shall manifest as such!
2nd Gift: Frankincense the priestly aroma.
They went beyond His Kingship to enter into the complete work before God in redeeming us from all sin through His Blood as a Paschal Lamb, and offering it in His Eternal Priesthood in the Order of Melchizedek, as cited by Hebrews 9.
The smell of incense is wonderful. It has a priestly and eternal application. In the Priestly laws the incense needed to be burned on its own altar. It is by the incense altar in Luke 1, the angel appears to Zacarias, announcing the forerunner to the Messiah, going in the face of the Messiah in the power and spirit of Elijah. The incense appears in Revelation in chapter 4 as that which rises up in the form of saintly prayers and intercessions. The same is used to produce the judgments upon the earth. Chapter 8 shows the effects of this incense. Here we see not only the High Priestly role of Jesus, but the role He passed to us also, in Revelation 1:6 we are called to be Kings and Priests also. Coming into our kingly role activates our priestly function. While the Gospel is preached our priestly role is to take humanity before the Throne of Grace. There Grace flows out to lift humanity from the mire of confusion, deception and destruction. We have embraced a pseudo form of the priestly function by focussing merely on Grace, cheapening it, but we must demonstrate by our Kingly role that all sin and iniquity has a penalty. It is spiritual death. Only through a thorough repentance of it, and an application of the corporate priesthood do we see sin dealt with forever. Grace does not merely cover our sin, it shows us what cost this Grace comes to us, cost the Life of the Son of God. This realisation must make us realise that the Precious Blood is exactly that, and that the Precious Blood releases Precious Grace! In our celebration of Christmas we must embrace the reality that Jesus limited Himself in coming as the Word made flesh, in that He came in the form of a baby. Dependent on all, and how He submitted to the human processes to His final mission. The route to fulfilling His own priesthood is having His own Blood shed. He is to offer it Himself in heaven’s temple in the quality of High Priest. In an eternal order. This in turn releases us into our eternal priesthood by our embrace and worship of Him as High Priest, and embracing our comprehension of the Precious Blood.
3rd Gift: the prophetic Myrrh and its bitter work
The Magi caught the bitter work Jesus had to undergo. Simeon in Luke 2 explained the sword that would pierce Mary’s soul also, in this bitter work, prophetic as it was, the culmination of prophecies for centuries about the extent of the measure that was needed to redeem man from the consequences and nature of sin. What we can apply for this last year is how to process the “myrrh” that has worked into our own lives. Myrrh is bitter. Is it not interesting that Mary’s own Jewish name is Marriam or Miriam, a derivative of the word for Myrhh. It is a bitter path living for God, because of the cost it entails. As I read of the sacrifices of the saints who have gone before us, we may be getting our own “baptism in Myrrh”. For Mary it was conceiving a child without father, in a young age, risking scandal. This same child becoming a great teacher and miracle worker, and then seeing Him crucified. This myrrh is necessary to break through the fallen nature, the corruption and spiritual death that comes with it.
What “Myrrh” has worked in this year? What process can you take out of this? Myrrh can heal or can make us bitter if we do not process God’s processes in our lives right. I can speak in personal processes I have walked through this year. I did not know if I would survive, but I sit here writing this having understood that the Myrrh in those situations have worked out a grace in my life. I can be grateful and embrace My Lord more tightly now. As Paul says rightly “These momentary trials are working out for us an eternal weight of glory”. We gain a eternal vision of our trials and however bitter they may be we will overcome. Our bitter made us better as we submitted to prayer and were enlightened as to the work of Myrrh in our lives. It was placed there in our wounds to heal us and make us overcomers to loose the seals of our own lives.
This year it was not enough to preach prosperity because our pain was greater than money. It was not enough to prophesy and pray against a virus, because it would not go away. This year was a year to overcome in adjusting our vision. Whilst we look back with a certain unpleasant taste, we must come to Joseph’s own conclusion, “What was meant for evil became my good fortune.” As we embrace Jesus in His Gold, His Incense, we must also embrace His Myrrh.
I hope this word has blessed you as much it me. What you can do practically is to enter a different level of prayer, and worship. You can also do what the Magi did. You can reach out with your gifts to bless your pastor who has found this year a challenge. He may not have expected a demographic change. Bring a word of blessing to your pastor or minister. Or bake him a cake, or even sow to him financially. This giving is a form of worship. Christmas is a season for giving. We have to discern what giving we do, and what dimension we are called to do it.