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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Who Were The Wise Men?

This post at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship Blog got me thinking: "Who were the Wise Men?"

Here's my first thoughts.

I think the "Wise Men" were men who had been influenced by the ministry of Daniel and perhaps a form of what we see as "God fearers" in the New Testament. They'd seen the prophecy of the return from exile fulfilled after the 70 years mentioned in Jeremiah and knew the God's promises were true. God had also revealed to Daniel that the full flower of the "return promises" would ultimately await a Messiah after 70 weeks or 490 years. This was neare the Magi's own time.

If this is a correct reading of the Magi's experience, perhaps it is a call to heed the scriptures more minutely and humbly than we do and take as our basis for action an expectation that God is still extending the reign of the King through the mission of the church. As John Piper has said "Missions exist because of the places where Worship does not".

The wise men are the first from the "nations" to meet Jesus who then commanded that the annoucement of His enthronement should be proclaimed to all the nations that they might be brought under His Saving Reign (Psalm 2). Jesus' saving reign encompasses both justification and sanctification on an individual level but likewise results in the blessing of God in the transformation of the kingdoms of men into the kingdom of our God (Revelation 5:10)through the preaching of the Gospel and the flowering of the communion of the saints.

The Wise Men remind us that the "missional message" is "near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart" (to use the language of Romans 10:8). The missional message is as near as the message of Holy Scripture yet as distant as our failed obedience and sinfully distorted and selfish world views that do not allow Jesus to truly be "Lord".