I asked two friends to help deliver this message, almost as a sort of Christmas play. Each one took the part of one of the wise men. We sat in chairs facing each other and held a conversation, as follows:
It has been my quest since birth, the epitome of all purpose in my life. It is the thing most longed for—the greatest of all my desires. It is not money, although it can bring great wealth. It is not fame, although fame may follow in its discovery. Not happiness, not pleasure, not peace—no, not even the love of my closest relations is the object of my quest. In my quest, I have accumulated great knowledge. I have traveled land and sea—I have read the greatest philosophers, and the writings of the most ancient scholars. But my quest is for more than knowledge My quest is far deeper than to acquire mere information—my quest is a quest for the meaning of life itself. A quest for the truest quality of all that is knowledge, applied in my life, belief, understanding, and experience, and wrought out in every action of life. Mine is a quest for wisdom—and more than anything else, I would be a true wise man.
Many say they are seeking wisdom, but few truly get close to their object. So many fall into the trap of seeking the lesser things—knowledge, pleasure, happiness, money, and relationships that come and go. So many fall short in this quest, and but few stay on this road to wisdom. I have spent days and nights without end in search of this quest, but the more I attain to my object, the further I find myself from my goal. I see myself as a child, playing on the shores of a vast ocean of knowledge. Somewhere in that vast ocean lies wisdom. I must go and find it.
Ah true, but you already have great knowledge. Kings and peasants alike come to you for counsel. Your advice is sought by the highest men of the land. I, too, long to be a wise man. Why do you speak as though Wisdom is so far from your attainment?
Yes, true, I may have some knowledge. But as I have said, Knowledge and Wisdom may be friends, but they are not one in the same.
Yes, true. But remember our miraculous encounter?
Yes, the encounter. The encounter that changed our lives…
Yes, the encounter that defined wisdom in a whole new light.
It all started with the star...
No, let’s back up—before the star. You see, for a long time we have been searching for the true wisdom. Thinking about deep questions that nobody has been able to answer. Questions like, “where did we all come from?” “Is there intelligent life beyond the horizon of this earth?”
Yes—I specialized my study in the study of the sun. Science tells us that the great and magnificent sun is the source of all our life. The greatest scientists have studied all the natural processes on earth, and they all trace their source of energy back to the one great sun! Our philosophers have taught us this. The priests of our land offer sacrifice to the sun. They teach that all the lesser deities are offspring of the sun.
I study astronomy. The stars of heaven are so vast an innumerable. Some are large and bright; others are so small, they can hardly be seen. Some are fixed in their places. Others wonder through the heavens. I’ve helped to build the charts and mathematical tables to calculate their locations with near-perfect accuracy.
The stars are the one thing we can see, that don’t get their light from the sun. The moon and the earth, yes, and the planets – they all are connected together in a most amazing and complex system. But the stars seem to be fixed points of light, far far in the distance. Perhaps they are even suns in their own small universe.
That’s just it—if that is so, then our sun can’t be the highest deity. Did our sun also give birth to the stars? Where did our sun come from? Can our legends be trusted to tell us the truth? In the ancient writings, we have read about the great God of Heaven, greater than the sun. In these writings, God is the One Who created the sun, moon, and stars, the earth and all of us. Our priests teach that God is like us, but ancient writings are different.
Yes, an ancient prophet from our land wrote:
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Yes, a God who speaks to us, even though we don’t acknowledge Him. We had to find out about this Great God, if He exists, and learn more about Him. So, we found the scriptures of the Hebrew people who live far to the west—the most ancient writings in all the world. The great prophet Moses, who lead the Hebrew nation from Egypt to Canaan, wrote much about this great God of Heaven. We read how God created the world, but how we human beings rebelled against Him and sinned. But then, according to these scriptures, God promised to send a Redeemer to save the very people who had rebelled against him!
The Hebrew prophet, Isaiah, heard God speak this message to Israel:
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Yes, so we learned about this great God in heaven, and about His plan to send a redeemer. But when would this happen? Well, we turned to the writings of a great and wise man, a prophet of God who lived here in our own land. Like us, he also was longing for the day when this redeemer would come and save his people. God gave him visions of the future, and God told him exactly when this redeemer would come!
Look—it’s written right here in this book:
Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
“Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
Balthazar: (acting as though mentally adding figures)
Seven weeks, that’s 49 days, then sixty-two times seven thats 434 days, plus the 49 makes 483 years…
It started at the decree we read about in the history of the kings of Persia, remember? Artaxerxes the great king of Persia wrote the decree, in the seventh year of his reign. That was just over 450 years ago...
Exactly! And the prophecy said it would be 483 years until he would be anointed. A prophet wouldn’t be anointed as a child, of course—he would be anointed after he grew to be a man. According to Hebrew custom, a man must be 30 years old before he can be a priest or rabbi. Isaiah says “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”—God With Us. So we realized that the great deliverer could be born any day.
Yes! And that’s precisely when we saw the star. It wasn’t any normal star, either. It didn’t move through the sky each night with the other stars. It wasn’t a planet, either. It was the strangest thing any of us had ever seen. It hung like a bright lamp, right above the horizon.
We went to the palaces and universities, and asked the wisest men of the land—priest and philosophers alike. Nobody could tell us what it was, but we all knew it must mean something important! We searched through the scrolls and ancient writings once again. We found the prophecy of one of our own ancient prophets.
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.
A Scepter signifies a king. Could this star be a harbinger of the promised one?
We were convinced that this must be the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies. Then, one night, I had a dream. In this dream, I was instructed to go in search of the newborn Prince.
Yes—I had a similar dream, too. And it came more than once! We had no idea where we would end up, or how we would ever find him, but we knew by faith that we would find him. We brought with us the richest gifts of our land—Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh—gifts fit for a king. Then at last we set out on our journey.
Since we didn’t know where we were going, all we could do was to follow the star. So, we would walk all night long, and rest in the daytime. It was a long trip, for sure, but it really didn’t seem so long. We walked over a thousand miles, and it took us several months. We spent the hours reciting the traditional sayings and prophecies about the one we were searching for. Every time we stopped to rest, we opened our scrolls and searched the prophecies again. The more we traveled, the more we were convinced that God was truly guiding us.
The star led us straight to the land of Israel. Just as we saw the city of Jerusalem in the distance, we saw the star hovering over the temple, and then it disappeared. Of course, we hurried into the city, expecting everyone in Jerusalem to be talking about this new-born prince. But we were surprised! When we asked about the child, nobody seemed to know what we were talking about! So, we went to the temple and asked the priests. Surely someone there would know. They seemed as puzzled as the rest. In fact, they seemed a bit upset at our questions, and didn’t really want to talk to us at all.
So, we went to King Herod, and told him about our search. He was really nice to us, and seemed more interested than the others in our errand. He told us to search diligently, and to let him know when we found the young prince.
Herod demanded that the priests tell him where the Christ should be born, and they were more helpful to him than to us. They found this prophecy from Micah:
But thou, Beth–lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
So, as we left Jerusalem, the star appeared again, and brought us to the little village of Bethlehem. There, it led us to the home of a peasant family, with a young child. But despite the humble surroundings, we knew we had made no mistake. Yes, we knew we had found the child king, and we bowed to worship him.
Oh, the joy that filled our hearts! To think, that here before us, in this humble home, was the one whom prophets and worshipers for centuries had longed to see! And we saw him! We saw him with our own eyes, and to this day, this has been our greatest joy! As I laid my wedge of gold before the feet of the lowly child, it seemed such a small offering for the son of a King who rules the universe.
Yes, to worship at his feet was the greatest joy of our lives. It was worth the weary miles, the long nights of searching—it was worth everything to see the longing of our hearts fulfilled. As I presented the fragrant frankincense, the humble abode seemed transformed into the palace of a king.
It felt a little strange to be giving the burial perfume of myrrh to such a young child—but it was the gift for royalty, and I knew from the prophecies that as our redeemer, His life on earth would be cut short.
Yes, I feel that at last, we have found the meaning of true wisdom. Because wisdom is not found in the abundance of knowledge, but in the knowledge of One—the knowledge Him who came to bring peace on earth.
I had another dream, and was warned by God not to go back to King Herod. Why? Because Herod was plotting to kill the child! Oh the wickedness—that men would think to kill the son of God! It was so sad. Our hearts are breaking to think that this child’s own people weren’t searching for Him. They had all the same scrolls that we have, and more! But they were minding their own business. They didn’t even seem to care!
Friend, my question today for you is this: will you care? In all the busyness—in all the hustle and bustle of life, will you take the time to care about the real Christ? Will you study His Word with the same earnestness, as though you have never heard the story before? Would you walk across the desert, or go to a foreign land, to find the Christ child? Are you willing to make whatever sacrifice God is asking of you, in order to come into a deeper relationship Him?
Yes, friends—wise men still seek Him.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.