Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Let's read Matthew chapter 2.

We find several people in this chapter, namely, Herod the king, Wise-men, High-priests, baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Children in Bethlehem who die by the order of Herod.

I would like to focus first on the wise-men. They first come to see Herod the king, to inquire and find out where the True King of the Jews (Jesus) is to be born.

The wise-men then bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus.

Gold was used for the tent/tabernacle/temple of God and the king's throne.
  • Exodus 25:10, 11 They shall make an ark of acacia wood. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it.
  • Exodus 25:17 You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. 
  • Exodus 25:23, 24 You shall make a table of acacia wood. You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it.
  • 1 King 10:18 The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with the finest gold.
The images of the Tabernacle on Google.
The images of the Temple on Google.

As you can see in these images, many of the objects used in the tabernacle and temple were overlaid with gold.

We can see that the wise-men recognised Jesus' kingship and divinity. And we are like the wise-men who visited both Herod the king and the true king Jesus. But the gold was given to Jesus who is the true king and true God.

The wise-men also brought frankincense which was used only for God in the temple service.
  • Exodus 30:34 The LORD said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you. And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.”

As you can see, the Israelites were not allowed to use the frankincense for themselves but it was to be used only for God. The offering of frankincense by the wise-men to Jesus shows the fact that they recognised that Jesus is the God to whom the Israelites offered the incense.

Not only that Jesus is the true High Priest who can offer the frankincense to God. All the high-priests were gathered together with Herod as we read in the verse 2:4 but it was Jesus to whom the wise-men gave the frankincense, showing that Jesus is both the true High Priest and true God.

Lastly, the wise-men gave myrrh to Jesus. Myrrh was used for embalming a dead person.
  • John 19:39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds (about 34 kg)in weight.

Myrrh was also used as a stupefying potion,
  • Mark 15:23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

Myrrh sympbolises suffering and death. The wise-men gave myrrh to Jesus and this gesture shows that Jesus indeed came to the earth to die, even for our sins. 

Many babies and children died at the hands of Herod but the Bible gives clues that the children will be alive in the heaven if they die prematurely. This is, precisely because Jesus who alone was alive from Bethlehem as a baby under two years of age at the time actually truly died on the cross later for forgiveness of our sins, and that the sins of the babies and children would also covered by the blood of Jesus on the cross. 
  • Matthew 18:3 “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • Matthew 19:14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
  • 2 Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me. (After David's child died)

We, like the wise-men, worship the true king and God who died for our sins on the cross by confessing that we are like the wise-men who gave gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus. 

Discussion questions
  1. Who is the King Herod figure in your life? (Who or what do you fear the most? Who or what leads your life the most? Who or what is the most dominant person or thing in your life?) 
  2. Who is the high priest figure in your life? (Who or what do you rely on the most? When you need help or are in desperate need of something, who or what do you turn to the most?)
  3. Rachel wept for her children. Losing who or what would cause you to weep and have great mourning, and refuse to be comforted?
  4. To whom do you bow down and worship? (Who or what do you love, treasure and cherish above anyone or anything else?)
  5. To whom do you give your gift/offering of gold, incense and myrrh? (Who or what do you consider as someone or something that can give you guidance, help and happiness?)

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