It is with some expectation that I am looking forward to working through the Gospel of Matthew with you in the next few months.
Have you ever been to a party where an attempt to celebrate was made just for the sake for a celebration? Or have you ever gone to a party that you just didn’t want to go to, you were there out of politeness, or felt some pressure to turn up. You find that you force yourself to be polite and enjoy the event. For you it is not a real celebration and perhaps it is boring.
A true celebration must have an event at its heart. There is something to celebrate, I am sure that we have all gone to a surprise birthday party. Now that’s a celebration!
In the Old and New Testament WORSHIP is rooted in an actual event. The substance of the Old Testament is determined by the Creation and the Exodus-event, we sometimes lose sight of our Biblical heritage. The New Testament worship is determined by the CHRIST- EVENT. Biblical worship celebrates the event and makes it come alive again, having an impact on the heart, mind and spirit of the worshipper.
- We don’t go to worship to celebrate what we have done.
- We don’t say; “Look Lord isn’t it wonderful that I believe in you!”
We go to worship to PRAISE AND THANK GOD FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE, IS DOING AND WILL DO!
God the Father’s work in the Lord Jesus Christ is the focus of worship, and it is the focus that we must recapture as we worship together. Matthew wrote not only to capture the heart and imagination of his readers but to draw attention to the Christ Event.
This evening is worthy of our worship.
Matthew chapter 2 can be summed up in six points.
- They came to worship. Vs 1, 9-12 ( the Magi)
- Some were indifferent. Vs 3-6 ( the leaders and priest and teachers of the Law)
- Warning in a dream. Vs 13 (Joseph is warned of coming events)
- The Flight. Vs 14,15 (Joseph heads of to Egypt)
- Hatred, anger and pain. Vs 16-18 (Herod’s hatred and murder of so many innocent children)
- Home again. Vs 19-23 (Joseph Mary and the Lord Jesus return and go to Galilee to live.)
It is the CHRIST EVENT that I want to focus on and the WORSHIP THAT THIS SHOULD STIR OUR HEARTS TO BRING US BEFORE GOD.
To that end I would like us to consider one of the 6 points.
Some came to worship
The Angels proclaimed the birth of the Lord Jesus; the shepherds also came to worship Him. Matthew tells us of the wise men, or Magi, here are some facts about these guys:
We are first introduced to the Magi in the Book of Daniel. Some 500 years earlier the Nation was exiled to Babylon, We have all heard the story of Daniel. He is the guy who entered the lion’s den and lived. There is far more to Daniel than meets the eye, Daniel loved God with all his life. When others were bowing down to tyranny for fear of their lives, Daniel remained faithful to God.
Let’s take a quick visit to Daniel 2.
King Nebuchadnezzar was a brilliant leader; he was also a despot, a dictator with the power of life and death. He was no fool though. One night he had a dream that disturbed him; he called the Magi, the learned and elite of his court to interpret the dream. I said that he was no fool; these were the conditions that he laid down:
- Tell me the dream! That would put them to the test; in other words prove that you are as intelligent and gifted as you claim to be.
- I will kill you if you do not interpret the dream.
These were his conditions. To this the Magi replied that they were unable to interpret what they did not see or hear. The king ordered that they be rounded up and put to death. Daniel was a member of the court he and his friends would also be put to death.
It was time for God’s man to step up, and be counted, there are times in our lives when we must step up and be counted!
Daniel knew that he could not do anything without God- so he asks for prayer that he may have wisdom.
Never underestimate the power of prayer!
As he stand before the king he testifies to the greatness of GOD- My God knows all!
He tells the dream! And then he gives the interpretation to that dream.
Nebuchadnezzar saw a mighty statue in his dream, Brilliant and impressive. Head made of Gold, Chest and arms of silver, Belly and Thighs made of bronze, with legs of iron, the feet were made of iron and clay. In his dream a rock is cut out and thrown at the statue destroying it.
This is the hand of God says Daniel. Each part of the stature is a kingdom. At the end of the day God will destroy all these kingdoms and He will replace them with one mighty kingdom that will last for ever.
A kingdom and a King! God gave Daniel a wonderful gift, the gift or faith and the ability to understand the meaning of dreams. God always equips His people for the tasks that He calls them to.
The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar was disturbed by a dream that he had, the Magi, were unable to interpret it’s meaning, to cut a long story short Daniel, God’s man is able to interpret the dream, this is what says: 2:44 44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
Daniel is put in charge of the Magi, he saves their lives and there is a good chance that he had a great influence on them. God places each one of us in situations where we are to have an influence on people.
This new kingdom was part of the Messianic promise to God’s people and to all the people of the world. The Magi had never forgotten this.
The Magi were powerful men from the orient, they were considered to be wise men, scientists and scholars and they studied all manner of things, from the natural to the supernatural. These men of power instilled fear from those around them. They came with a great fanfare.
We do not know how many of them there were, many assume that there were three because they gave three gifts and they were wealthy.
On commentator says that they were king makers. They did not enter Jerusalem on camels; they came riding Arabian stallions, with great pomp and ceremony.
One thing that is evident to me is that, anyone who really seeks to find the truth will be led by God to the truth. God sent them a remarkable star, a sign in the sky that led them directly to the Lord Jesus.
We should understand that the star was not enough. For God requires a search, a desire in the heart to put feet to one’s prayers and aspirations!
What about us?
Yes God has sent the equivalent of an amazing star.
- The revelation of the OT scriptures.
- The life of the prophets.
- The nation of Israel, they were to be a shining light in a dark world.
- The search of the Magi.
- The birth, life death and resurrection the Lord Jesus.
- The testimony of the NT saints.
- The proclamation of the Apostles as they led the early Church.
- The Testimony of the Word as written in the New Testament.
- The presence of the HOLY SPIRIT Who is resident in the life of every true believer.
- The conviction of the Holy Spirit. This is what the Lord Jesus says about the Holy Spirit. John 16:7-9 7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8″And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me
The search may not dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s, but it will reveal God’s Love, Grace and Mercy as well as a strong conviction of sin and a sense of the wonder and awe of God.
What was their motivation?
They genuinely wanted to see the fulfilment of Daniels prophecy. God was speaking to the whole world, their visit is significant. Salvation was not only for the Israelite nation, it is for all mankind!
What is it that motivates our worship?
Is it a celebration of the CHRIST EVENT?