From: Bob Williams
Beginning in Genesis 3:15 where God promises Eve a “seed,” who would “bruise the head” of Satan, the Old Testament is replete with prophetic promises of a coming Messiah Redeemer. Micah 5:2 prophesied the promised Messiah would be born in “Bethlehem of Judea,” some 700 years before the actual birth. Throughout Israel’s history, they clung to this promise of hope, enduring significant periods of trial.
Daniel, while captive in Babylon, as recorded in Daniel 9:24-27, was told by the angel Gabriel that it would be 483 years from the going forth to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem “unto Messiah the Prince.” The promise that “a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” is found in Isaiah 7:14. Gabriel said this would occur by the “power of the Highest” overshadowing the virgin, as told in Luke 1:35. The who, what, when, where and how of God’s promised Messiah is clearly foretold in Scripture.
Strangely, Israel’s religious leaders seemed ignorant of the timing of the fulfillment of the promise of their Messiah. They should have been celebrating, instead they continued life as normal. This demonstrates how Satan had totally corrupted and controlled Israel’s religious system.
Yet there were those in the temple at Jerusalem who knew the 483-year prophecy was about to be fulfilled. Beside priests, two faithful individuals named Simeon and Anna were in the temple waiting for the “consolation of Israel,” as recorded in Luke 2:25-38.
There were also the “wise men from the east” who came to Jerusalem seeking to worship the “King of the Jews,” (Mt. 2:1-2). When King Herod “demanded” the chief priests and scribes tell him where the Christ would be born, they answered right away: “In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written in the prophets,” (Mt. 2:3-6). Israel’s leaders knew the prophecies; they just did not respond. Nor did they seem to know that Christ’s birth was probably two years earlier as the wise men were looking for the “young child,” not a baby in a manger. Is it any wonder Christ later rebuked them as “blind guides?”
The “wise men” are a mystery. It is not recorded how many there were, where they came from and the nature of the star. But it is clear they had the Word of God and studied the prophecies. It is also clear they were Jewish believers, or at least proselytes to the Jewish religion. A pagan would not worship a Jewish Messiah. Most likely they were Jews in dispersion, such as recorded in Daniel 1 where the brightest and best of Israel’s youth were brought in captivity to Babylon and proved themselves to be 10 times better than the Babylonians.
As you read about the birth of Christ in Luke 2, be like the “wise men” not the “blind guides:” believe and rejoice that Christ came to “save sinners” like you and me.