The Visit of the Wise Men: Complications in Fulfilling the Dreams God has Given You.
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
One of the most memorable aspects of the story of Jesus’ birth is the visit from the wise men. Tradition has it there were three wise men, but we don’t really know how many there were and quite likely they would have traveled in a large group with servants and assistants. Originally, they were not called wise men but rather magi. And that term magi is an ancient Persian term for astrologers. So, these wise men as we call them were astrologers. And as astrologers they looked to the stars, believing that the stars could help them determine the future.
Like these astrologers, people who dream big also look to the stars. Not to determine the future but to prepare for it. Because people who dream big know that the sky is the only limit. And this is because the dreams that we dream are not our own. They were placed in us by the God who created us. The God who said in Joel 2:28 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.” And God places these big dreams in our hearts because the accomplishment of them will bring Glory to his name. They are God’s dreams for us, and he has ordered our steps in such a way that we can fulfill these dreams for his purposes. And because God has given us these big dreams, the sky is the limit, and nothing is impossible.
However, there is something that big dreamers must understand: Even though the dream is from God, the accomplishing of it will not always be easy; there are always complications in fulfilling the dreams that God has given us.
When we look at the story of the wise men, we can see some of these complications and we can see why it is important to persevere through the complications to pursue the dreams that God has given us.
The first complication we see in the story of the wise men is timing. In verse 16 we see that by the time the wise men got to Jerusalem, they had been following the star for two years. It’s often thought that the they, like the shepherds came to Jesus on the night of his birth, but in actuality, while the wise men may have set out on their journey on the night of Jesus’ birth, they did not get to him until two years later. By that time Jesus was no longer an infant, but a young child as verse 9 calls him. And so, the task of bringing gifts to the newborn King took two years to accomplish. What this tells us is that God’s timing is not always our timing. Second Peter 3:8 says a day to God is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like day. Things that we think will be quick may take much longer than we imagined. And things that we think we’ll have plenty of time to do may require our immediate action. You never know with God. Which is why every dreamer needs to be patient enough to walk when God says walk and be prepared to run when God says run.
The second complication that the story of the wise men teaches us is that God’s way of doing things is often different than or way of doing things. We know from verse 1 that the wise men came from the East, and we know by their actual title of Magi that they were likely Persian. We also know from verse two that they came with the expressed purpose of worshipping the new King of the Jews. Which means that they most likely knew their journey would to take them close to Jerusalem. The shortest distance from ancient Persia to Jerusalem would have been about a thousand miles, and surely, they would have sought to travel the shortest straightest possible route. However, they weren’t traveling in accordance with their own maps or directions. They were traveling by God’s map because they were following God’s star. And when you follow God, you have to do things God’s way. We don’t know if the journey would have been quicker had they used their own directions. We don’t know if God took them on the straightest or easiest path. All we know is that they followed God’s path instead of their own directions, and it took them years to get where they were going. Now the temptation here is to go the way you know. The wise men could have just followed a man-made route that would have taken them straight to their destination in good timing. Likewise, we often think we know where we are going in life, how we need to get there, and when we ought to be there. But what the wise men show is that our way may get us in the vicinity of where we want to be, but God’s way gets us exactly where we need to be when we need to be there. So even though God’s way is different from our way, and may seem more difficult than our way, and may certainly take longer than our way would, God’s way is the way we need to take.
The third complication in accomplishing the dreams that God gives you is that not everyone is going to be excited about your dreams. In fact, many people won’t care. Some will actually root against you. And still others will dare be offended by you going after your dream. In verse 2 we see the wise men finally make it to Jerusalem. And they came into the city shouting “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship.” Perhaps they believed there would be a grand precision of noblemen from other countries coming to pay homage to the newborn King and they were trying to get in line. Or perhaps they were looking for a palace suitable for the young ruler. So, they asked the people on the streets, where is he who has been born King of the Jews. But verse three tells us that no one answered them, and everybody was troubled by what the wise men were saying. Not everyone is going to be excited about what God has called you to do, even when it’s to their benefit. Therefore, you cannot build your confidence on what other people think. Be confident only in God. If God has called you to it then you need to pursue it. And if God is within it then the sky is the limit. And that’s all you need to be concerned with.
The fourth complication is that some people only exist to block the work of the Lord. Throughout chapter two we see a man named Herod. This Herod was a Roman political associate of Jewish upbringing. And so, the Roman government put him in charge of the Jews in Judea. In essence he was just an overseer, placed there to do the Romans' bidding, but he fancied himself the king of the Jews. When wise men came into the city speaking of a newborn king, Herod was immediately troubled. He knew that a Messiah had been prophesied and his scribes told him where the Messiah was to be born. But instead of Herod being excited about the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jews, he set out to stop it from happening. He told the wise men to go find the child and bring back information to Herod about where the child was. He claimed that he too wanted to worship the child, but in actuality he wanted to kill him. After finding the baby the wise men were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod and they went home a different way. And when Herod realized this in verse 16, he decided to kill all the male children in Bethlehem who were two years or younger. He should have been right beside the wise men worshipping the Messiah, but Herod desired to be a roadblock to the fulfillment of God’s plans. And in accomplishing the dreams God has given you, you will encounter Herods. You will encounter roadblocks. But if you stick with God, he will cause you to maneuver around the roadblocks just as the wise men maneuvered around Herod.
The last complication we see in the story of the wise men is that the destination that you seek may not be your actual finish line. In other words, you may think your dream is one thing, but what God has planned is more than what you expected. Which means you may have to journey farther than you intended. In verses 1 and 2 we see that the star led the wise men to Jerusalem. Now in their minds this was the final destination, the end of their long journey. Because Jerusalem was the home of the Jewish kings. Jerusalem is the city that King David built to be the epicenter of worship and activity in Israel. And with the Messiah being a descendant of King David, the wise men thought surely the baby was to be found in Jerusalem. But in actuality, the star wasn’t guiding them to Jerusalem, but rather through Jerusalem. The journey required a bit more than they had anticipated. In verses 9 and 10 we see that they departed from Jerusalem still following yonder star. And the star led them about six miles outside of Jerusalem to a little town called Bethlehem. And it was there that the wise men finally found the end of their journey as they found the young child in Bethlehem. With the dreams God has given you, you must always be mindful that what God has planned might be more than you have anticipated. And so, you must always be ready to go a little bit further. Don’t grow weary in doing good but continue to press forward to the accomplishments of God’s call.
And if you press forward despite the complications you will see the fulfillment of your dreams. We see it in our text. The wise men journeyed for two years, they were spurned by the people in Jerusalem, they were almost deceived and sabotaged by Herod, and they found themselves journeying further than expected. But when they got to the child, the Bible says they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy and they fell to their knees and worshipped him. And then they opened their treasures and gave him gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh. Gold because he is the King. Frankincense because he is God. And myrrh because he would die for the sins of his people. And because they did this, because they persevered through the complication to accomplish the task God gave them, they have gone down in history as an unforgettable part of the greatest story ever told. So, for we dreamers, the point is simple. Dream big, trust God, and persevere through the complications in order to fulfill the dreams God has given us. For if we do, we will achieve much more than we ever envisioned.