Robert Morris - His Christmas
All right, so this is the end of our series, "Living in His Presence", and we've been talking about worship, and this weekend is "His Christmas", and we're talking about mainly worship is how we live in His presence, a lifestyle of worship. And I talked about Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, so we'll do, like Christmas, so if you'll turn your Bibles to Matthew 2, we're gonna focus on the Christmas story out of Matthew, not out of Luke, for our purposes today.
Matthew 2. If you think about this, when His presence came into the world, people began to worship Him. People began to show up to worship Him, because they wanted to be in His presence. And we're gonna focus mainly on the wise men today, all right? So, Matthew 2, look at Verse 1, and I'm gonna highlight a few things in here. "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king..". Sorry, I should have emphasized one thing, "after Jesus was born". Not before He was born, but after He was born, "in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East", probably Persia, and we'll talk about that, "came to Jerusalem".
I just want you to notice, the wise men did not come to Bethlehem at first. They did go to Bethlehem, but not at first. At first, they came to Jerusalem, "saying, "Where is He", so they didn't know where He was. "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star", and we're gonna talk about that star, "in the East and we have come to worship Him". When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests", in other words, the pastors and the ones that knew the Scriptures, "and the scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet", so they got the Scriptures out, and they read Micah 5:2, by the way. "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel". Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men..". this is because Herod wanted to kill Jesus, we know, but he also wanted to kill the witnesses, in my opinion. That's why he secretly called them, the wise men, and told them to come back. "He determined from them what time the star appeared".
Again, you have to remember, this was not at the birth of Christ that the wise men came. They came after the birth, and I'll show you this, all right? "He determined what time the star appeared, and he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child". Notice not the baby, but the young Child. "And when you have found Him, bring back word to me that I may come and worship Him also". Of course, he didn't want to worship Him. "When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them", this was a supernatural phenomenon, "till it came and stood over where the young Child was".
I keep emphasizing "young Child". Just to let you know, "young Child" is in, from Verse 8 to Verse 21, it's 9 times in 14 verses, "young Child". "When they saw the star", Verse 10, "they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house..". the house, not the stable, "they saw the young Child", not the baby, "with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way".
Okay, so we know that these guys came to worship Jesus. I want to show you three things about their worship that we can learn from, all right? Here's number one: it was expectant worship. In other words, they came expecting something to happen when they entered the presence of the King. They came expecting something. They came about a thousand miles, and I want to tell you some things about the wise men. You've heard 'em, they're called the Magi. That's because that's the Greek word, "magi", meaning the plural of "magos", which is one.
But here's what it means, and I don't want to burst your bubble on some things, but you have to understand, they were from the East, they weren't Jewish people. It's magi is where we get our word "magic". They were magicians, they were astronomers, and astrologers. They were sorcerers, probably, was the whole magi, the group of magi. Now, these particular men were probably believers, and I'm gonna show you why I believe that. But, let me show you a few Scriptures about the Magi. Daniel 2:2, "Then the king gave the command to call the magicians", the magi, the magicians, "the astrologers", that's not astronomy, that's astrologers, "and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dream". So, these men came from a group called the Magi, which were magicians.
Now, don't be too hard on 'em, 'cause you have to think about that we were born with a hunger to know the supernatural. And so, if you weren't a part of Israel and you didn't know about God, and you're not even today a believer, people have a hunger to know the supernatural. That's why, in some cultures, they have witch doctors, and there's sorcery still to this day, and fortune telling, and horoscopes, because people have this desire. I believe these men had this desire.
Now, I'll tell you again some things about them, and that's why also there were magicians in Egypt. Remember when Moses went, there were magicians. Well, let me tell you something about them that you might not know. Many theologians believe that Balaam, and many historians believe this, that Balaam, that the king of Moab hired to curse Israel when they were coming through the wilderness, if you remember. He hired Balaam because Balaam was a sorcerer, a magician. He was someone who cast spells on people, spoke curses over people.
Many historians believe, or many theologians believe this, that he's the father of the Magi. And when he came to cast a curse on Israel, God wouldn't let him. And this is something that people don't know, but Balaam was actually the first one to prophesy about the star. This is possibly where these Persian Magi learned about the star. I'll show you the Scripture. Numbers 24:17, Balaam's prophesying. He said, "I see Him". I see Him, capital H, Him, "but not now. I behold Him", so he's prophesying under God's Spirit, "but not near. A star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel".
So, these Persians go back to Balaam, their first one, 'cause Moab, remember, was conquered by Persia. So when they study their history, they go back to Balaam, to one of their prophets and probably the founder of their organization, and they find him, that he can't curse Israel because of their God, and he actually blesses them and he prophesies about a star. You've got to remember, in the days of Esther, that was Persia that had taken over, and they were going to kill Israel, and God rescued, through Mordecai and through Esther, God rescued the Jewish people. So when the Persians are studying their history, they realize once again the God of Israel rescued His people.
Are you following me? You've got to remember in Daniel, when they're in the Babylonian captivity, that was Persia. They were Persians. Those Persians then, they're magicians, they're Magi, they're astrologers, I just read you out of Daniel 2:2, could not interpret the dream. But a Jewish man could, and a Jewish man was rescued from the lion's den, and three other Jewish men were rescued from a fiery furnace. Are you all following me? So, these Persians, reading their history, keep reading about the God of the Jews rescuing His people, and they go back to a prophecy that a star is going to show when this Messiah comes.
And then, Daniel prophesies — The Bible is so phenomenal. Daniel prophesies that the Messiah is going to come in 483 years. He prophesied that, 483 years. 483 years later, you say, well, is that when Jesus came? No, He was actually born 453 years earlier. You say, well, where is the discrepancy? Because He began His ministry when He was how old? 30... 483 years exactly. And they knew that the Jewish people began their ministry when they were 30 years old. You can look at Joseph, when he was 30 years old. David, when he was 30 years old. Most people believe Daniel was 30 years old when he interpreted the dream. We don't know from the Bible that, though, but Jewish history tells us that. Okay, so 30 years old, so they go back 30 years, and the planets lined up at that time, and they see the star. And then they traveled.
They weren't on camels. Okay, sorry. You can still leave the camel in your nativity scene, that's okay. They weren't on camels. They were on Persian horses, the finest horses in the world. It took them about nine months. They traveled about a thousand miles on these Persian horses. But they weren't at the stable, and we don't know how long it took them to gather their things before they left, so Jesus was either somewhere between 9 to 18 months, because when Herod determined the time, he killed all of the young men two years and under. See what I'm sayin'? So, he was a toddler. He wasn't a baby when the wise men came. Again, sorry to blow your nice nativity scene, but the wise men weren't there at the stable. It says very clearly, "When they had come into the house".
When they came into the house, they saw the young Child, not the baby. Okay? And I'm all for nativity scenes. I love nativity scenes. My personal belief is we should put a nativity scene on all government property. That's my personal belief. So, just if you want to know. Okay. But, here's my point. It had been passed down for hundreds of years about this Messiah, and these Persian men traveled a thousand miles to get in His presence, and to worship Him. I have one very simple question under point one. If they made that much effort to get in His presence, why don't you make just a little effort? They knew. They were expectant. You should have an excitement start comin' up in your hearts on Thursday and Friday, that you're gonna get to enter God's presence with His people. Now, you can enter His presence every day, and I want you to, but there's something different about entering His presence with His people. Would you agree?
I talked with a guy this week, and he's a great guy, a great family that comes to our church, been comin' about four years, but he was open and honest with me about worship. He said, I didn't grow up in a church like this, you know, the expressive worship, and the hands, and all of the stuff, you know? So he said, when we first started coming, my wife and I, we were coming to the 10:45 service, but I told her it started at 11:00. Because, he said, the worship made him uncomfortable. I said, really? He said, yeah, but we get there early now. Because now he's learned that worship — Listen, please understand. I know you like the message, but the message is just the icing on the cake. The cake is the presence of God. The cake is worship and His presence.
So, expectant worship. Here's number two about these wise men: expressive worship. Expressive worship. Matthew 2:10-11, "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother", now watch this phrase, "and fell down and worshipped Him". Now first of all, two phrases here. "They rejoiced with exceedingly great joy". Okay, the Bible could have just said they rejoiced. That would have been the verb, they rejoiced. But then it adds the word "joy". They rejoiced with joy. Then it adds the word "great". They rejoiced with great joy. Then it adds the word "exceedingly". "They rejoiced with exceedingly great joy". They expressed their worship. And they fell down. They fell down and worshipped.
Now, this is not the word for bend or bow. This is a very uncommon word in the New Testament, in Greek. It literally means to fall down violently and be shattered. These men walked into a house, saw a toddler, and fell down violently, and they were shattered in His presence. And these were not unintelligent or socially unacceptable men. These were the wealthy intelligencia of the day. They collapsed. It wouldn't be a bad idea if every now and then, you collapsed in His presence, and you were shattered. They fell down and they worshipped, and do you understand that one day, every billionaire, every atheist, every college professor, is gonna fall down in His presence, and worship Him? They're gonna express their love!
And I just want to... just a couple, just a few Scriptural expressions. So you know, these aren't Pentecostal, Charismatic, or anything else. These are Scriptural expressions of worship. Psalm 47:1, "Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph"! Psalm 95:1, "Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation". Psalm 95:6, "Oh come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker". And Psalm 134:2, "Lift up your hands", in church, "in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord". Those are Scriptural. Those are Scriptural expressions of what's in your heart.
And I understand. I understand. I grew up in a church where we didn't do that. We stood there, still as we could, with hymnals in our hands. And it was boring, and we tried to get there late as well, but normally, all of the back seats were taken when we got there late. And then I walked into a church called Shady Grove Church, which is our Grand Prairie Campus now, and people were shouting, and people were lifting their hands, people were dancing. And that was during the praise, and then when we entered into worship, people actually started kneeling. I'd never seen that before in my life. People started getting on their knees in the presence of God.
And I remember, I was looking around and I was kind of analyzing it, you know? And I thought, man, these people are serious. This is sincere. And so, I was just kind of talking to the Lord, and I said, Lord, this is good. This is good. People are actually kneeling before You. And then I had that little impression. It was like the Lord said to me, what are you doing standing up? And for the first time ever, I got on my knees, and something happened in me, and I could never go back to any other type of worship service, because I found out what it meant to express my love to God and not worry about what other people thought.
So, it's also expressive worship. And here's the third one: extravagant worship. It's extravagant worship. Verse 11, "When they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures", we're going to come back to that phrase, "they presented gifts to Him, gold, frankincense, and myrrh".
Now, you need to know a few things. First of all, these gifts had prophetic significance that they probably didn't know. I'll tell you in a moment why they offered these three gifts. But, gold represents royalty. Frankincense represents divinity. Frankincense, incense — when you offer your prayers, you offer your prayers up to God, incense. And, myrrh represents humanity. This was His humanity, His divinity, and His royalty. That's what they represented prophetically. Myrrh is what you anoint a dead body with. He was anointed with myrrh after He was crucified. Well, they came. Pardon me. He was anointed before. They came to anoint Him then, after the Sabbath, and He wasn't there, so. But, I think this was symbolic of His death. But, here's the reason. It's very simple, why the Persians brought this. These were the three best resources that Persia offered. They were known for these three things. They were known for gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
So, my question is really simple to you. They brought their best. Do you bring your best when you come to worship? Because I have to admit to you, there have been many times that I haven't brought my best. I've been thinking about something else. I've been distracted. I just kind of go through the song service, or go through my quiet time, and I don't bring my best. They brought their best. And then it says this phrase, which a lot of people never realize what this means, "They opened their treasures".
Okay, in those days, they traveled with enough funds that if something happened that was unforeseen, they'd be able to get home. More than what they needed. If they needed 9 months to get there and 9 months to get back, 18 months, most of the time they carried about 36 months of financial aid with them, because they didn't know what might happen. And it says they opened their treasury. Now, this is just the way I see it in my mind. They're standing there looking at the King, and something was so glorious about a toddler that one of these men said to the servant, and they had bodyguards with them — one of them said, open the treasury. I'm sure the servant probably said, but, sir, we have to keep some to get back. And this is just my mind, this is what I think he said. I think he said, shut up and go get the gold. Shut up and get it all. Get it all.
I think that's the way we should worship, and by the way, you can never separate worship and giving. I challenge you, find it in the Scripture. When people worshipped, they gave. When they gave an offering, they gave sacrificially, and if you would like to go to a new level in your worship, you go to a new level in your giving, and that's what these guys did. They were extravagant.
Here's the last thing I want to tell you about these guys. Do you remember they came to Jerusalem and said, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews"? Because they figured He'd be in Jerusalem, and they had to get the Bible out and say, no, the Bible says Bethlehem, so that's when they went to Bethlehem. But, they didn't know where He was, right? Remember, Verse 12 says, "Then". "Then" is an important word in the verse because it means after they worshipped. "Then, being divinely warned in a dream..". divinely, by God, divine. "Divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way".
Now, we're wrapping up our series. I hope you catch this, and I hope you never, ever forget this, because this is what it means to enter God's presence into worship here. This is how much your life will be changed. So, listen very carefully what I'm about to tell you. Before they worshipped, before they entered Jesus' presence, they had to go to other people to find out what the Bible said. But after they entered His presence, God spoke directly to them. That's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in Scripture. If you're not a worshipper, you will always have to say to somebody, what does this mean? What does this mean? But once you get in the habit of entering God's presence on a regular basis, God will speak directly to you.
What an amazing truth from God's Word! The wise men worshipped Jesus, but before they worshipped Him, they had to ask other people what the Bible meant. After they worshipped Jesus, God spoke directly to them. Isn't this incredible? God wants to speak to us, but it's when we enter His presence, it's when we come into His presence. We've been in this series, "Living in His Presence", and I want to encourage you to live in His presence; to worship God, to give Him your worship and praise, and develop such a relationship with Him that you know He's right there with you every day, and every moment of every day. I love you so much, and I'm so grateful that you love God's Word and you watch our program. I'll see you next time.