"On that days they read the Book of Moses to the people, and they found that it said no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be allowed in the meeting to worship. The Ammonites and Moabites had not welcomed the Israelites with food and water. Instead they had hired Baalam to put a curse on Israel. (But our God turned that curse into a blessing.) When the people heard this teaching, they separated all foreigners from Israel." Nehemiah 13:1-3
A Curse Turns Into A Blessing
Have you ever wondered why did the magi come bringing gifts to Israel's new born king when they saw a bright new star in the sky? In the Old Testament the book of Numbers, chapter 24 records "Balaam's Fourth Oracle." He writes
"The oracle of Balaam son of Beore, the oracle of one whose eyes see clearly, the oracle of one who hears the words from the Most High, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near, A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. "
Balaam had seen him but not now and beheld him but not near. The Magi had read the Holy Scriptures. That bright shining sky in the sky was the newspaper of the day announcing to the world that yes, the Messiah had come. They came to see a king and I doubt anyone expected to see a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes sleeping in a manager.
But this story also has a dark side and it centers around Herod the Great. The book of Matthew chapter two records that "Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east 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 and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
When they had gone, an angle of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up and took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord said through the prophet: "When Israel was a child, I loved him and out of Egypt I called my son." Hosea 11:1
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachael weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." (Jeremiah 31:15)
After Herod died, an angle of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."
So he got up, took the child and his mother and went the the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archaelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."
Do you see is a sky full of bright stars yet all you've been receiving are empty promises and trouble? If your life seems headed towards failure then maybe you need to change directions?
How have you sensed God's protection? Note three people who may be in jeopardy of God's punishment and pray for them during the day.
How do you respond to Jesus, the King? How do you worship him and celebrate his life, death and resurrection? What gifts do you bring to the Lord in your prayers, worship and service?