As the new year approaches, what direction are you headed?
Of all the birth narrative characters, the Magi are the most interesting candidates to be included in the redemption story. They were outsiders and unrelated to the nucleus of God’s plan of salvation. They were scientists. They made their way by observation. They discovered insights about life from the natural world. Some scholars believe the Magi were actually educated by the Jews during the Exile years so they understood the magnitude of God’s intervention in the created order by providing a sign the new king arrived for the Israelites.
God intervened in a number of ways in the lives of the Magi but they made the choice to follow the star. The Magi initiated the quest to find what God had done. They travelled a very long way and as they arrived in Jerusalem, they did the righteous thing by delivering the news about the new king born to God’s people. Sometimes confirmation of God’s presence is shocking and terrifying especially when we discover God affirms his directives and plan for our personal lives. His plan is often contrary to our way of doing things. Tension, stress, disappointment even depression can accompany us on our travel away from God. Freedom, faith, confidence and assurance will come alongside us as we walk in the Light of God’s presence.
Herod was a slippery character. He arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Pretending doesn’t get people very far with God. We may kid ourselves and we can even convince others that we are devout and faithful but God knows the real deal. He knows what’s going on beneath the surface. We cannot pull the wool over the Lamb of God. Be sure to read Matthew 2. Herod’s whole world crashed in around him and his fury affected many innocent lives. The Magi made a crucial decision to not follow the direction of Herod and go the way God told them.
Take some time to reflect about the choices you made during 2017. Consciously consider the direction and pathway you decided to go. When did things go well and why? Were there hidden agendas or did you honestly wait on God to reveal his path for you? Following God isn’t easy. It is sometimes the hardest thing we ever do. However, God is a rewarder of those who follow him. Consider the outcomes of the decisions you made and how those decisions impacted others. Be assured that sometimes God’s very best for you is a camel ride in the opposite direction.
And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:12 NIV