I do not recall the source of this message and cannot vouch for the correctness of all the applications, but the message is thought provoking!! As best I recall I actually used this message one time from this manuscript, thus the omission of some words in the phrases. The message has again been a blessing as it was reproduced in digital form. Hopefully, it will be a blessing to you also, and with any application you may chose to make.–Robert Ashcraft
Gifts of the Wise Men
Gold – Tribute for a King
Frankincense – Worship for a God
Myrrh – Faith in a Suffering Jesus
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem … 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, frankincense and myrrh,” Matt. 2:1, 11.
Ancient Babylon lay 300 miles east of Jerusalem across the Syrian desert. About 600 years BC the Jews had been brought there as captives by King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, and three other young men took their places after proper training and testing among the “wise men” or magi of Babylon.
Daniel rose by virtue of character and divinely-given wisdom to be successively “ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon,” (Dan. 2:48), “the third ruler in the kingdom,” (Dan. 5:29), under Belshazzar, the first of the three presidents over 120 princes, governing the entire world-wide kingdom (Dan. 6:1-3) under Darius, and had great honor, evidently under King Darius.
While in Babylon Daniel wrote prophecies—prominence as statesmen under three dynasties and place as chief of the “wise men” gave him fame among the learned and particularly spiritually minded. Glory of worldwide rule had departed from Babylon when Christ was born. Had been first conquered by the Medes under Darius establishing the Media-Persian Empire. Later conquered by Alexander the Great, and then later by Romans who ruled the world in the days of Christ.
But in Persia and Babylon wise men continued to seek after God—studied ancient writings including Daniel, from which they learned about promise of a Messiah, who would establish a kingdom and reign in Jerusalem. May have kept chronological records as the 69 weeks or 483 years passed from the time of the commandment to go forth in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah until the coming of the Savior. When 69 weeks were finished, these watchers saw a special star in the heavens.
Took this star as sign of supernatural witness that time was fulfilled—King was born. By faith they made journey to Jerusalem, bringing gifts for the newborn King. At Jerusalem, they learned from scribes and Pharisees, who knew Micah 5:2 that Bethlehem was the place. There they went and found the child Jesus and his mother, Mary. Then they opened their treasures, and gave gifts to the Lord Jesus Christ.
They “Opened their Treasures”
Journey was probably over desert sands, thru mountain passes, probably across Euphrates and Jordan Rivers. Braved dangers—hidden away safely each of them carried the things they held most dear—treasures, the best they had, reserved for the child King! Did not flip him pocket change, or present him trinket to play with. Nothing casual or superficial. Thru long, long years, their hearts had beat high in anticipation of this blessed moment! They fell on their faces and worshipped Him! Then with tears of joy, and possibly trembling lips, and pulses running wild, their nervous fingers opened the cabinets or loosed the thongs that bound their treasures—they gave to the Lord Jesus the finest of all they had!
Some speak very blandly of “the Galilean peasant” or the “prophet of Nazareth,” or “the great teacher.” Or the “Way-Shower.” People call Him example, martyr, wise man, philosopher, prophet or seer; but such terms are but chaff to Him who deserves so much more, –all such half-hearted and impersonal praise is stinking ointment instead of holy incense before Jesus. One rich man so came to Jesus, calling Him “Good Master,” and He sternly reproved him, saying, “there is none good but one, that is God,” (Matt. 19:17). Jesus is more than a good schoolmaster or rabbi: if he is not God, then He is not good!
Each of us needs to probe deep into our own hearts to determine attitude toward Jesus. Only those who come with hearts bowed low in worship, opening all treasures, have come as Lord Jesus demands. “They that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” (John 4:23-24). Jesus must be approached like the Father, with whom He is one, (John 10:30).
Many transactions can be completed without opening one’s treasures. Quarter for a paper, play a game, tank of gasoline, house rent or payment, shirt or dress without ever revealing the things most dear within the locked and sealed treasure vaults. Doctors complain (also counselors) that patients often do not fully trust them and do not reveal the details that might show what is wrong. Lawyers make appeals, politicians put together legislation, businessmen make deals all behind crafty eyes and poker faces, with motives hidden. Men have business dealings, have travel plans, amusements, friendships, hopes and aspirations, even loves, of which their wives know nothing. Wives complain that they are shut out. And, oftentimes in the churches there are those who participate in religious activities and do “church work” but do not open all their treasures to the Lord Jesus.
Not so these wise men. They opened their treasures and gave gifts to the Lord Jesus. And my prayer today is that we will take Jesus Christ into the innermost secrets of our hearts, lay bare our treasures, and give Him the best and choicest of everything. Give Him all!
We cannot deal with Jesus Christ as with ordinary men. Must deal with Him as God, as Creator, and the one who is omniscient, understands all, as One who loves all.
Must deal with Jesus sincerely—cannot deal with trifles only—must deal about eternal destinies of heaven and hell, life and death, sin and salvation, and life and immortality. Yes, open to Him the treasures of our hearts.
Many go to church, pay tithes, fast twice a week, pray in public, live a respectable land moral life, help the poor, honor by neighbors, trusted by friends—does not make a Christian. Only when the Lord Jesus deals with the treasures of the innermost soul can one really claim to be His—total commitment, Lord of life.
Every gift the wise men gave had a profound meaning. Was Spirit of God who spoke to them through ancient prophesies written by Daniel. Same Spirit of God who emboldened their faith by the witness of the star which they saw in the east and later over Bethlehem. Angel of the Lord protected and guided them on journey to Bethlehem—then later in dream warned them to return another way after they had seen the Child Jesus.
Gold, the Gift for a King
The wise men came to inquire, “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, (Matt. 2:2). Probable that from Dan. 9:25 they had read of “the Messiah the Prince.” They came then to seek a future ruler—one born to be King. Jesus was hailed at His birth as King of the Jews. Same label was hung by Pilate on Jesus’ cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” (John 19:19). Prophet Isaiah in 9:7 had promised, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom…” To Mary the angel promised, “The Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David, and he shall rule over the house of Jacob, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
When we deal with Jesus we deal with a King. Not explain kingliness by making Him simply “the king of love” or “the king of hearts.” Word king in NT is not used in a figurative sense. Jesus is to reign literally on this earth. Words Christians pray in model prayer, “The kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven, (Matt. 6:10).
Gold is the symbol of a man’s worldly possessions—fit tribute for a king. Money standard. The Lordship of Jesus demands that He be worshipped with gifts—gifts of money and spiritual gifts of praise and love. God put it in the hearts of these wise men from East to bring Jesus gold as an example for all others who should ever claim to worship Jesus Christ.
Does it seem strange that of all the gifts mentioned here, gold is first? Why not incense first—pictures prayer and praise, picturing the deity of Christ. Why not myrrh—pictures the suffering Savior—represents true faith in hearts. No! according to God’s plan and God’s record gold was offered first. Throughout OT men who sought God brought firstlings of flock as Able, or like Zacchaeus, when converted and forgiven, “The half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold,” Luke 19:8. One of first impulses of newborn soul is to give—of money and property in support of work of the Lord.
As surely as the landlord has a right to the rent, or a banker to his interest, the Lord Jesus has a right to the gold of those who claim to love and worship Him.
Preachers who talk about money are often accused of being money-minded, and any talk about giving of money and property to God is offensive to large groups of people who call themselves Christians. But there was nothing offensive in the idea of giving money to God in the minds of these wise men. When they opened their treasures, the very first thing was to take out gold. What an honor that the gold they brought could care for the needs of the little family as they fled into Egypt from the wrath of Herod! How they must have rejoiced that the first little garments the child ever wore, perhaps, were bought with the money they so lovingly offered to Jesus. How glad they must have been to support those, too, who cared for Jesus. True worship involves the giving of all we have to God, and first of all our physical means.
Many people are willing for Jesus to be God—bring Him incense of praise and prayer—acknowledge Him as Savior, but are not willing to acknowledge Him as Lord and Master of all! Jesus is a King, and He has that right. He demands to exercise the right of full authority over our lives, our hearts, our homes, our purses, and all we have. If we will come to Him in worship that is acceptable, then we must open our treasurers and give Him all He desires. Those who give in Jesus’ name, like the wise men, worship God acceptably. The gold is tribute for a king who must reign.
Frankincense—the Sweet Odor of Prayer and Praise for Deity
Frankincense was second gift mentioned by wise men to Jesus—mentioned many times in OT—was one ingredient in the sweet perfume or incense which was prepared and used only in the Tabernacle and never for private or ordinary use. Frankincense indicates the deity of Christ—offered in worship to God, and never to one simply a man. These wise men from the East, by faith and spiritual perception, recognized that Jesus, the King of the Jews, was literally the Son of God. Must have understood His virgin birth—knew His pre-existence with God—was Messiah—One with the Father==worthy of all worship and praise of the entire human race!
They had no silly talks about Christ as a teacher or example or good man—they instantly acknowledged that He was their God. May have read promise of Isa. 9:6-7, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and His name shall be called … The mighty God, The everlasting Father….” Recognized that Jesus was God. Did not tickle Him under the chin, etc. as ordinary baby. Fell on faces and worshipped Him! Incense pictures prayer and praise due only to God—God who is pure and holy and apart from sinful beings.
The sweet incense including frankincense was most holy unto God, Ex. 30:34-38,” And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof; it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord. Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.”
The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible, taught the heart of these wise men what to bring to the baby Jesus.
God is not concerned about our pious platitudes as we commend the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount—turns face with disdain when people speak of the crucifixion as “the martyrdom” of “a Goodman” who “died for his ideals.” No way we can approach God acceptably except we come with prayer and praise to Jesus Christ as God, Creator, Sustainer, and Savior—the One to be worshipped—who answers prayer—who is worthy of all praises that can come from human lips!
Some who study the Bible even when they should be on the knees in adoration. Some ask learned questions when they should bow the knee in surrender and confession before the Lord Jesus as Maker of heaven and earth. The lesson from wise men is that we, like Thomas, should fall on our faces and say to Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” (John 20:28).
God said through the Psalmist (50:23), ”Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.” David said (Psa. 34:1), “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psa. 65:2, “Oh thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” Wise men declared plainly by their gifts that they recognized this Baby Jesus as the eternal God, come in human form to be man’s Saviour.
In heaven (Rev. 5:8) are “golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” So the sweet perfume of frankincense offered by these wise men pictures the prayer and praise that is due to God. By their gifts, the wise men acknowledged the deity of Christ, and worshipped Him as God.
Myrrh – the Bitter Spice shows Faith in a Suffering Savior
“Gold and frankincense and myrrh: wise men gave Jesus when they opened their treasures-gold pictures tribute to a king, frankincense pictures prayer and praise to God, so myrrh represents faith in Jesus as Savior–suffering, dying, atoning for man’s sin.
Myrrh was one of the bitter spices used for burying. When Joseph of Arimathea took body of Jesus down from cross, in John 19:39-40:
“And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, about a hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”
Myrrh is associated with mourning and anointing—a picture of suffering. Wise men were taught by the Holy Spirit that Jesus would die for sinners and they came trusting Him as Savior.
The Lord told Moses in the wilderness to prepare a ”holy anointing oil” and Exodus 30:22-33 tells us that the first of the elements was myrrh. Was used to anoint the Tabernacle, ark of Testimony, and other things that were pictures and types of the coming Savior—who would shed blood. Myrrh was first spice put into ointment—points to Savior who suffered and died for sinners.
Before Israel came out of Egypt—kill Passover lamb—one for each family—male lamb, perfect and without blemish—death angel, etc. Passover lamb was to be roasted with fire and eaten with unleavened bread, “and with bitter herbs they shall eat it, (Ex. 12:8). Lamb roasted with fire pictures Jesus enduring wrath of God for sinners, bitter herbs picture sufferings of Christ for sinners. Don’t know what herbs they were, but could have been myrrh.
On long journey from East thru heat of desert sun, hearts torn between hope and anxiety, each one searched his heart. Were sinners as all mankind—as they sought God and Jesus, His Savor, must have been conscious of their personal guilt and in some way sought forgiveness and peace of heart. Some say the Holy Spirit of God had taught them that this Jesus they sought would also be a Savior from sins. Daniel (9:24) spoke of this Prince who should “finish transgressions and make an end of sin.” So they probably realized that the One they sought would be not only King but also a Savior. So when they found Him they opened their treasures and took out myrrh—pictured His sufferings, His atoning death, His sacrifice for sinners!
Oh, that men today could be as wise as these wise men from the east! Would be in vain to come to Him with gold and call Him King, if there was no way for sins to be cleansed. The Lord Jesus surely King and deserves our tribute. Is Mighty God and deserves all the praise of our lips and frankincense of prayer, but much more He is the “one mediator between God and man,” (I Tim. 2:5). Lamb of God that takes away sin of world—Passover sacrificed for us—are redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus.
Concerning the birth of Jesus Christ, the idea as Savior is most prominent one. Angel said to Joseph before birth, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins,” (Matt. 1:21). Name Jesus means Savior. To shepherds in field watching over flocks by night, angel of God that great night gave tidings, “For unto you is born this day a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.” If angels would have announced the birth of a king, would have been welcome, but could not save men from sin. If angel announced that God came down to visit man, wouldn’t necessarily mean peace—God came down at Mt. Sinai and Moses himself cheapest pharmacy said, “I did exceedingly fear and quake.” Ministration of Law was glorious—but was glory that lead to death and condemnation—when God spoke it was “thou shalt not” all way thru Ten Commandments.
No, if baby to be born that day was King and worthy of the gifts of gold and was to be Deity and worthy of praise and worship represented by frankincense—but if not to be atoning Savior, then God’s plan is incomplete and mankind left in darkness and shadow if death! Thank God, when wise men had given gold and given their frankincense, they could also bring myrrh, by faith in the suffering, atoning, dying Savior who paid once for all for man’s sins and tore away the veil in the Temple so that man could approach God in peace through Christ!
How well old Simeon knew this as he waited in the Temple until the Baby Jesus was presented and then held Him in his arms. Could say by faith, turning to Mary, (Luke 2:25-35, “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy soul also.” He had in mind the crucifixion—God had in mind the crucifixion—so these wise men from the East had in mind the crucifixion—cross—atonement—sacrifice for sin, when they opened their treasures and brought out myrrh!
When Mary of Bethany anointed the Savior with sweet smelling spices and ointment of spikenard, He said (John 12:7), “Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.”
Look by faith to Jesus Christ and bring out the myrrh—the faith of sin-weary heart and trust Jesus as Savior. Pay Him tribute as King; yes, worship Him as God of very God!! He deserves it all!! But above everything else, trust Him as your own Savior—trust Him to be sacrifice and make peace with the Father. Give Him the gold, yes—and the frankincense—and above everything else, bring Him the myrrh, the faith in His dying and loving atonement for sin.