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1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and the majoi, or wise men, came to Jerusalem. They had followed the "star" to this point, and wanted to know where the Christ-child was. As always, God has a reason for things happening. Let's see what that reason is.

Obviously, these wise men were in possession of part of the Old Testament, and new that a Christ-child was to be born. Also, they had received a divine revelation to follow the star.

This "Herod" was Herod the Great, son of Herod Antipater, and was an Edomite. Herod was a brutish man who had gained the governorship of Judaea. Josephus, the historian, said that he was victim of a vile disease which made his temper grow more harsh as he grew older. Probably, at the time of Jesus' birth, Herod was in his last days of life.

Herod and the Jewish population were both "troubled" at the appearance of the wise men from the East. Their appearance was for the purpose of finding Him of Whom it was prophesied that He would be born "King of the Jews." Herod liked things they way they were, and was afraid his rulership would be destroyed.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Though Herod despised the Jews, he did work with them. He applied charitable help at times when they needed it, for that was a good "show" of his rulership. He called the Chief Priest and elders together to find out WHERE Christ was to be born. You see, here is the REASON God had for allowing the wise men to come to Jerusalem and inform Herod of the Christ-child's birth. Herod, unlike the wise men, did not want to WORSHIP the Christ; he wanted to KILL Him. But God is going to show that when He gets ready to DO something in the world, no amount of government interference can stop Him!!

The Jewish people told him of the prophecy that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2. Matthew records this incident with Herod to show that Jesus' birth is the fulfillment of prophecy.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Herod, having found out that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, sent the wise men there. His instructions were that they would come back and tell him when and where they had found the child.

Immediately upon leaving Jerusalem, the wise men again saw the star which led them to Bethlehem. They "rejoiced" at seeing the star. And they followed it to Bethlehem.

11 And when they were 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, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

It's amazing how tradition often replaces truth. The wise men didn't find Jesus until quite some time after His birth. The Scripture records here that He was in a "house" (Greek oikia) which means residence, or place of abiding. Most of our nativity scenes reflect the wise men finding Jesus at the cattle stall in which He was born. However, they did not find Him until later, after the family had moved to a "house."

The wise men worshipped Jesus for Who He is -- Creator, Redeemer, King of kings! The gifts they offered reflected special honor due only to a monarch. They had come with the specific purpose of giving Him worship and acknowledging the fact that they believed in the prophecies of the Old Testament.

God warned the wise men through a dream "that they should not return to Herod." So they left Bethlehem by a different way, but would still lead them home. [[All who come to Jesus in truth depart by a different way.]]

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Again, Matthew refers to Scripture showing that Jesus fulfilled all Old Testament prophecy concerning the birth and life of Messiah. When the wise men left, Joseph received a dream warning him that Herod would try to kill the Christ-child. In the dream, Joseph was instructed to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt until Herod was dead. Then, this would fulfill the Scripture in Hosea 11:1. While this was originally a prophecy of God's call to Israel out of Egypt, Matthew realized that Israel had been a "type" of Christ.

Joseph did as he had received instruction in the dream. We must really commend Joseph for his faith. Even during dire circumstances, and at personal cost to him, he was faithful to God.

While they were in Egypt, Herod died. Historians say that Herod died in 4BC. Our calendars are off by about 4 years. Jesus was actually born around 4BC. Therefore, at the time of His death, in 30AD, Jesus was about 34 years of age.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Herod wasn't through expressing his awful temper. When he found out that the wise men had left without telling him where the Christ-child was, he determined a method by which he could still kill Him. He decreed that all children "two years old and under" in Bethlehem were to be KILLED! This was a barbaric act by a man who had already killed his wife and three sons!

This too, fulfilled a prophecy as Matthew saw it. Jeremiah 31:15 records that prophecy. Israel had rebelled from God, and the Babylonian captivity came by war which destroyed men, women and children. It has been said there is no greater grief than for a parent to lose a child. There is grief when a parent loses a child to rebellion also! Consider this: God has lost ALL His children to rebellion! But the "work" of salvation brings reward to the Father in heaven because SOME will RETURN from rebellion through surrender to Christ. There is "reward" in teaching children of Christ today. There is "hope" in the "end" that those children will choose Christ over rebellion. And though we may sow in tears, we shall surely reap in JOY!

God had also said, "16 Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. 17 And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border." (Jer 31:16-17)

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Again, Joseph is obedient to God's instruction. He returned to the land of Israel, but returned to his own home. He had originally lived in Nazareth, and had gone to Bethlehem because of Herod's tax decree. When he returned from Egypt, he probably intended to live in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. But again, following the instructions of a dream (verse 22), he went to Nazareth of the region of Galilee.

Nazareth is where Jesus preached His first sermon Luke 4:16. However, Matthew records that "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matt 13:58). And, later, Jesus moved His home to Capernaum.

One might note that Matthew states it was fulfillment of prophecy that Jesus should be called a "Nazarene." There is actually no place in Scripture that this is found. But we must remember that Matthew is a Jew, and is writing to inform Jews. So here he uses a "play on words." The word for "Branch" in Isaiah 11:1 is netser (pronounced nay'tser), and sounds similar to Nazarene. Jesus was a "branch" of the "root of Jesse," of the lineage of David. He was also a "Branch" of God. He was fully human and fully God! He was God incarnate; God IN a man.