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Christmas Question – Who was the first wise man to come out of the east? December 7, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Abraham, Christmas, Religion, Sermons.
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THE FIRST WISE MAN TO COME OUT OF THE EAST

Genesis 12:1-7

 

Last week we looked at the first promise of Christmas, which was made to Satan. This week we are looking at the second promise of Christmas in the Bible, the promise God made to Abraham. We want to compare Abraham to the wise men of the Christmas story and through five comparisons emphasize some important aspects of Abraham’s life.

 

1. The wise men (Magi) researched the mysteries of the universe. Abraham was a wise man because he believed, as evidenced by his obedience, the creator of the universe (Compare Genesis 12:1, 4).

 

Now when this story was first written down, it was written by Moses for the children of Israel. They had just escaped from Egypt as a new nation. They needed to know that God had a plan. That is what the story of Abraham is all about. God has a plan for Abraham, for Israel, and for the world. Abraham did not know all the details of that plan. In fact he did not know at this point all the details of that plan in his own life. But when God told him that he had a plan, he believed God and obeyed God. It was because he believed God that Abraham was righteous. Not because he was sinless. That he was not. Nor was his faith always strong. In Genesis 15:1-3 we find that Abraham’s faith was not always strong. He had questions. He wanted answers. God did not give him total answers. God simply said, believe me. I will make this happen (verses 4-5). Abraham’s faith proved itself to be real in spite of its weakness. Simply said, Abraham believed God. Because he believed God, when the time to make choices came, his faith, though it sometimes questioned proved itself real.

 

2. The Magi lived in the east in Persia (what is now Iran) and to their home they returned. Abraham, the first wise man, came from the eastern city, Ur of the Chaldees (what is now Iraq, on the Euphrates River) but he never returned (Compare Genesis 12:1 with Isaiah 41:2a).

 

Abraham left a city that was excavated almost one hundred years ago. It was a large and flourishing city with perhaps as many as 250,000 inhabitants. The average middle-class citizens lived in nice house containing ten to twenty rooms. It was a center of learning. Not only did the schools teach the four “R’s”: reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and religion but it also was a center of higher learning, especially in the areas of mathematics and astronomy. It was a walled city of international commerce with two harbors. It was also a pagan city. Nanna, the moon goddess, had a huge center of worship there. Abraham’s family were idolators and it is likely that Abraham himself also worshiped Nanna. That was the life that Abraham left.

 

Hundreds of years later we find an evaluation of Abraham’s journey in beginning in Isaiah 41:2. Verse 1 introduces us to a courtroom. God demands that the nations be silent so that He can lay out His case. He asks the question, “Who brought Abraham out of the east? Who ordered his every step?” “I did,” says the LORD, “Abraham was no nomad. But I called him and he answered. He followed My word.”

 

“Who is it that made Abraham and his servants a mighty military force in a land which they did not know (verse 3), defeating the armies of the great alliance that invaded Canaan, as though they were nothing but dust and stubble?” “I did,” says the LORD.

 

“Who is it that makes the plan and then carries out the plan and will finish that plan (verse 4)?” “I am there at the beginning,” says the LORD and I will be there at the finish also.

 

3. The Magi were looking for the King of the Jews but did not know where to find him (Matthew 2:2a). Abraham, the first wise man, was seeking for a fatherland with which he was unacquainted.

 

Ur had been Abraham’s fatherland. He had left family there. He and some of his family had settled in Haran, like Ur, a flourishing city but God said to Abraham, you need to go further. I show you where to go and when you get there that will be your fatherland (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16). Abraham recognized something that we often forget. God is our father if we trust Christ. In Him is our inheritance. In Him are all our dreams. In Him we have a homeland. As wonderful as the United States of America is, it is not my fatherland. I am a citizen of heaven. I, like Abraham, have turned my back on this world that I might have the world to come.

 

4. The Magi saw the sign of a star (Matthew 2:2b). Abraham, the first wise man, heard the Word of the LORD (Genesis 12:1, 4).

 

Because Abraham, when he heard God’s Word, believed God’s Word, he proved himself wise. 2 Timothy 3:15b tells us how to acquire this wisdom. It says, speaking of Timothy, “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” The Magi were wise in many of the arts and sciences of their day but Abraham, like Timothy, was wise in the one field, the only field, that matters, the Word of the LORD.

 

5. The Magi came to worship the King (Matthew 2:2c). Abraham, the first wise man, also worshiped the King (Genesis 12:4-8).

 

Abram at the age of seventy-five goes to Canaan where God visually appears to Abram in 12:7 and tells Abram, “You’re here! This is the land that I am going to give to your descendants.” What does Abraham do? He builds an altar and begins to call on the name of the LORD.

 

To build an altar meant that Abraham intended to come to God. True worship is not waiting for God to come to you. True worship begins when we come to God. We present ourselves before Him. Most people wait for God to come down and then wonder why He does not come. God calls us to come to Him and worship. Abraham, though, like the Magi, came to God to worship.

 

What then are we to do when we come to Him? We are to call on His name. To call on the name of the LORD meant that Abraham depended on God. He submitted all his ways to God alone. He recognized no other authority in his life but God alone. That is worship. When you depend ultimately on someone or something rather than to depend on God alone, you cease to worship God. When God is not the authority figure in your life, as He was in Abraham’s life, then you cannot and you will not worship God. You may go through the motions of building an altar but you must call on God. Recognize Him as the one and only Lord God.

 

QUESTION: Are you a wise person? (Romans 4:11-12, 16)

 

Romans 4 describes those who imitate Abraham’s walk of faith as children of righteousness. You can be wise like Abraham if you will…

…believe God’s promises, especially concerning faith in Christ, as given in His Word;

…turn your back on this world in exchange for the world to come;

…and come to God and call on Christ alone in total dependence and submission.

Next Week: CHRISTMAS IS OF THE JEWS (Genesis 28:10-22)

 

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