Devotion for the Week...
I hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas! We certainly did. The boys had several planning and practice sessions the couple of days before Christmas to prepare for waking us up Christmas morning. They had to decide who would play which instruments and which song they would sing, and then they had to practice. It was all very entertaining! I'll just say I'm glad I was already awake when Aiden played the first note on his electric guitar (right outside our bedroom door), as I think that would have been a rather abrupt way to start the day :)
There are a couple of parts of the Christmas story that happened after the day of Jesus' birth, one of which is the visit of the Wise Men. These mysterious men recognized Jesus as being king before anyone else did, and they sought Him out to offer their worship. "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him'...After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1,2, 9-11).
The Bible doesn't tell us much about the Wise Men. Though we normally assume there were three of them, because there were three gifts, the Bible doesn't even tell us how many of them came to Jesus. We know they were astronomers/astrologers who saw the star and recognized it as having meaning; they came from the east; and they were Magi, or wise men. That's about it.
That's not what the Bible teaches, though. Psalm 111:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding." Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
Now, Nathan has had trouble understanding the concept of 'the fear of the Lord', and so I've had to explain it to him a couple of times lately. Like Nathan, you may think it strange that the Bible says we are supposed to be afraid of God, but that's not actually what these verses mean. It's not that we are to be afraid of God, like I would be afraid of a big, snarling dog or like Nathan is afraid of the dark. Rather, it is that we are to hold Him in reverent awe, to realize that we are sinful people and God is holy and righteous. It is not that we are to be afraid, but that we are to feel a sense of our unworthiness, along with an acknowledgement of His worth.
So, once we have that sense of our unworthiness, along with an acknowledgement of His worth, that is the beginning of wisdom, because that is the beginning of us aligning our lives with His will, the beginning of us wanting to live His way.
Wise men (and women!) still seek Him. It's true, but it is not because we are wise that we seek Him. We are wise because we seek Him. Seeking Him...knowing Him...'the fear of the Lord'...these are what give us wisdom.