By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from
the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of
the Jews?’ We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew
2:1,2 NIV)
The Magi (Wise Men in many English Bibles) came from the East. This story
properly belongs with the celebration of the birth of our Savior, although their arrival
was at least a year (probably more) after the Savior was born. Near the beginning of
the first century A.D. Parthia (Persia) was the most prominent kingdom east of the
Holy Land. We properly think of them traveling on camels, which were the Cadillacs of
their day. The camel travel is undoubtedly based on Isaiah 60:6, “A multitude of
camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba
shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of
the Lord.”
The journey of the Magi could have covered as much as a thousand miles. If
we estimate their travel time at 30 miles per day, the journey would have taken at
least a month, if not more. We also properly think of them as traveling on camels,
because they were court astrologers, which would have placed them high in their
governmental structure. In their day, astrology was looked upon as a science. When
they arrived in Jerusalem, they were properly received by Herod the Great as
important emissaries. The whole city took note of their arrival. But their primary
intent was not a diplomatic mission. They had come to find the Messiah of the Jews,
to worship him and bring him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We know for
sure that there was more than one of the Magi. We have probably liked to think of
them as three because they brought three gifts.
At the time of the visit of the Queen of Sheba, Solomon was among the
greatest of kings in the Near East. Like the Magi, she made a long and costly journey
to see Solomon. This event finds a parallel in Luke 11:31, “The queen of the South
will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she
came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,
something greater than Solomon is here.” In our day, the rover, Curiosity, is
searching the surface of Mars, and the Chinese have just landed a mobile explorer on
the Moon.
How can we miss the lessons to be found here? It is not worth our trouble to
find the Lord? To have God is to have everything. Not to have him is to be incredibly
deprived. Some live their lives as militant and proud atheists, not wanting to have
anything to do with God. But many others just seem plain indifferent. We find
encouragement from the prophet, Isaiah: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call
upon him while he is near;” (Isaiah 55:6) The Christmas Season is a good time for
us to be renewed in worship and in the wonder of our great Savior. May many, who
seem to be tone deaf and not paying attention, find our Lord in these days!

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

 Thank you. More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.