The other day, I was talking to my parents about the difficulty of Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and my compassion for her riding a donkey while nine months pregnant. Ouch! She must have expected a little easier journey considering whose child she was carrying.
Anyway, in the course of all that, I happened to mention the wise men, and my amazing Bible-scholar dad said, “Well, you have to remember that there were no wise men at Jesus birth. That’s not historically accurate. According to scholars, Jesus was probably around two years old when the wise men arrived.”
I know! Seriously? Thanks for messing up nativity scenes everywhere, Dad! Without the wise men, there’s nothing but angels and farm animals to bring balance to the shepherds and sheep in my little porcelain figures. Anway, I digress.
The reason scholars believe that the wisemen only came later is that:
1) They followed the star, and the star only appeared when Jesus was born.
2) The wise men went to Herrod, the King, first. They told him of their mission to find the newborn King and Herrod sneakily asked them to come and tell him when they found the new king so that “he too may worship”. And then he ordered all of the boys two and under killed. Scholars believe this indicates the length of the wise men’s journey. They’d been travelling for around two years to get to Jesus, and so Herrod killed all the babies two and under.
But thankfully, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and warns him of Herrod’s plan, and so Joseph takes Mary and two-year-old Jesus and flees to Egypt.
My husband, Matt, and I were sitting around discussing this “exodus” and he had this thought: How could Joseph, a carpenter, afford to pick up, leave his trade and his home, and move to Egypt?
The answer is: God started His journey of provision for them two years before.
The wise men’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh weren’t just pretty gifts for a toddler, they were exactly what Joseph and Mary would need for their journey and for their survival in Egypt. The wise men didn’t just come to worship, they came with provision. And that provision started its journey towards Mary and Joseph two years before they needed it.
This profound picture has stayed in my heart the whole of this Christmas season—God moving towards us with His provision, long before we ever have a need.
I pray this Christmas season is full and happy, and you are experiencing abundance. However, if you aren’t, and you’re struggling, and you have needs that seem insurmountable—dig a well. My pastor preached a sermon a few weeks ago in which he said, “When you’re going through a valley, or a low place, in your life, dig a well for the presence of God. You will be amazed at how He will fill it.” Your shovel for digging may be surrender, or repentance, or maybe it’s forgiveness for those that have wounded you, or forgiving God for your perception that He’s failed you. Or it may simply be letting your heart be quiet before the Lord and recieving His presence.
But find a quiet place, surrender, dig a well (make a place in your heart for him), and then ask God to fill it. He will fill your well. He will meet you with His presence.
And then when you leave that place, watch the horizon in your life. God’s provision is already walking towards you. Two years before they had the need, God provided for Mary and Joseph and Jesus with the gifts of the wise men. And He is doing the same for you and for me. He has already set his goodness in motion on our behalf.
I love nativities. My sweet friend, Jamie, has some of loveliest nativity sets I’ve ever seen. I only own one set, but each time I’ve looked at it through this Christmas season, I now see the wise men in a new light. No, they weren’t present in the manger to “balance out the shephards”, but they came in God’s perfect timing. Two years before the need, God set them in motion bearing His provision.
And that is the thought I want to leave with you this Christmas. Whatever your need, God is already moving towards you with the answer. He is at work. He is faithful. Your heavenly Father knows what you have need of. Take courage, have faith, and remember the wise men.
With love from my house to yours. Have a lovely Christmas!