Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh? What Kind of Gifts are These for a Baby?

 By Naomi Craig

Reliquary Three Wise Men MNMA Cl23822wikimedia

Was this the traditional gifts to give a baby back in those days?

If you've watched the animated children's movie The Star (2017) or the musical Journey to Bethlehem (2023) the wise guys (er I mean wise men😜) make jokes about not knowing what to bring to a baby shower and being able to cure insomnia with essential oils.

Agate phial cropped, wikimedia

The wise men were likely from the order of the magi--scholars, physicians, astronomers--dating back to the time of Daniel in Babylonian exile.

These men would have been well-versed in the scrolls including Daniel's prophecies about the timeline of the Messiah's birth and possibly the pagan seer Balaam's prophecy about the Star coming out of Jacob. (Numbers 24:17). 

Sripada night sky, wikimedia

It is suffice to say, the magi were expecting Jesus' arrival. They were actively waiting for the promised Messiah. 

So if they knew all these prophecies, why did the wise men have to make that stop in Jerusalem to chat with King Herod?

We know from our Bible that the location of Christ's birth is Bethlehem (Micah) But the book of Micah was written in post-exilic Judah. Meaning the scrolls and prophesies would not have made it back out to the Persian empire and the mages.

Herod also doesn't know where the new king is to be born and consults the scribes and the chief priests to come up with the location of Bethlehem. Armed with this knowledge, and the star's guiding light, the wise men head off to see the child, Jesus in his house. 

Ancient pathway to Bethlehem along Roman aqueduct LOC matpc.16578, Wikimedia

They present to Him gifts that live in memory to this day, Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.--Yeah, Mary and Joseph would have thought these were odd gifts for their young son, too.

So what do they represent? 

The wise men in The Nativity Story (2005) show the beauty and prophetic fulfillment of the carefully selected gifts

Gold for the King of Kings

Frankincense for the Priest of Priests

The gift of myrrh to honor the sacrifice

Gold--that one is self explanatory. You would give gold to a king, it was a symbol of royalty.

Frankincense was a priestly implement used in worshipping God. Jesus was the One to talk to God most High and intervene on our behalf.

Myrrh...this one might have pierced Mary's heart with the implications. Myrrh was used to embalm the dead indicating the sacrifice Jesus would face as an adult.

Isn't that amazing? 

In Journey to Bethlehem, the wise men show up at the manger scene (not accurate time frame but what is expected in each Nativity) and I LOVE how they enter singing "Thine is the kingdom and the power and glory..." and the Tall King has a tear rolling down his cheek.

Can you imagine the dedication and faith to know about the coming Messiah and seek after Him in such a fashion to give up all that was important to their way of life?

What's your favorite Nativity movie?

Behind the elaborate furnishings of Herod the Great’s palace, conspiracy and distrust run rampant. Mysterious visitors from the east challenge everything Amal thinks he knows as palace scribe.
Will his quest to uncover the Truth free him from the ornate shackles of palace life, or will he be the next victim of King Herod’s maniacal jealousy?

Want to see my take on Balaam's Star out of Jacob? Download my novella On Desolate Heights, Balaam's Story free. You can unsubscribe from my newsletter at any time.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today and Happy New Year to you and your family. I don't know that I've seen a movie that deals with just the nativity. I did enjoy what I've seen of The Chosen.