DIRECT SIGNS OF HIS COMING
Of the sign of the star in the East (Matt. 2:1-2) a great many explanations have been attempted, with a view to accounting for it in other than a supernatural way, which if they were not sad, would be amusing. Men have attempted to prove that it was simply the ordinary movement of some star which attracted the attention of these men. The evident sense of Scripture leads to the conclusion that it was a special Divine arrangement. There was in the shining of that star a signification which led these men from their country to the place where Jesus was born. It was an extraordinary and special movement in the stellar spaces, designed to lead these men to Christ.
It has been often said that the magi were kings. There seems to be no warrant for the statement. More probably they were priests in their own country. The word is of Aryan derivation. These men in all likelihood came from Persia, and had devoted their life to the study of the stars. They were astrologers. In these times men smile at astrology; but it should never be forgotten that astrology preceded astronomy, as alchemy preceded chemistry. Israel had been under Persian rule, and there is no doubt that the men of Persia had become acquainted with much of the religion and hope of the Hebrew; and they would in all likelihood be specially attracted by such predictions as coincided with their own religious habits. In all probability they knew the prophecy about the star out of Jacob, the scepter out of Judah. (Num. 24:17) They knew that this star indicated the birth of a king, so that when they came they said, "Where is He that is born king of the Jews, for we saw His star in the east, and are come to worship Him." (Luke 1:26) This sign within the radius of their own observation led them to the fulfillment of what was best in their thought and service. That has always been the way with devout seekers after truth. God reveals Himself to them at the point where they are sincere seekers. The first sign of the advent of Christ was the star which shone in the darkness of an outside nation.
Next there was the sign of the angelic ministry,—the message to Zacharias; (Matt. 2:2) the message to Mary; (Matt. 1:20) the word to Joseph; (Luke 1:11) the first solo of the advent over the plains of Bethlehem. (Luke 2:10-12) An angel announced the coming of the forerunner to Zacharias; an angel announced to Mary that she should bring forth a son; an angel warned Joseph, and led him out of peril; an angel sang the song of the advent to the shepherds, and was joined by a multitude of the heavenly chorus, so that the angels who had so long been silent, came again to announce the advent on earth of their King.
But perhaps the most remarkable sign was that of the voices of prophecy. They had been silent from the time of Malachi until the advent of Messiah. In dealing with the voices of prophecy, there is first the fulfillment of prophecy in the coming of Jesus; and secondly the uttering of the new prophecies in connection therewith. Matthew deals only with the old voices. In Luke, on the contrary, the voices of the old prophets are not referred to; all are new. (The Scriptures which speak of the old voices are Matt. 1:23; 2:6, 15, 17, 23. The Prophecies to which they refer are Isa. 7:14; Micah 5:2; Hosea 11:1; Jer. 31:15, and Isa. 53:3.) In Luke are found the new voices to Zacharias, to Mary, and Elizabeth in the first chapter; to Simeon, and Anna in the 2nd chapter. Christ was coming unrecognized and unwelcome, but all the voices of prophecy of the past were being fulfilled in Him, and in Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, Simeon and Zacharias, new powers of prophecy gained inspiration from His advent. Add to these the voice of the forerunner which, in the period immediately preceding the opening of the public ministry of Christ, attracted crowds to the valley of the Jordan, and moved the nation to its very center. This new prophetic manifestation centering in Jesus was an unmistakable sign to the sons of men of the Divine nature of His mission.