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Unread 12-21-2004, 10:43 AM   #1
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The gifts of the magi

Many of you may have heard sermons recently that mention the gifts of the magi and their significance in identifying who Jesus Christ is. Specifically,

Gold -- A gift of kings, representing Jesus Christ as the King of Kings.
Frankincense -- A sweet perfume used by priests in the temple, representing Jesus as the High Priest.
Myrrh -- An enbalming agent used on the bodies of the dead, representing Jesus as the one who would die for our sins.

I think this is beautiful symbolism. Does anyone have any comments on the legitimacy of this, i.e., were these really the primary historical uses of these materials, are scholars trying to read too much into this text, etc? Is this a case of "sometimes a gift is just a gift"? It's just one of those commentaries that almost sounds too "neat" to me.

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Unread 12-21-2004, 10:48 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BurntHombre
Many of you may have heard sermons recently that mention the gifts of the magi and their significance in identifying who Jesus Christ is. Specifically,

Gold -- A gift of kings, representing Jesus Christ as the King of Kings.
Frankincense -- A sweet perfume used by priests in the temple, representing Jesus as the High Priest.
Myrrh -- An enbalming agent used on the bodies of the dead, representing Jesus as the one who would die for our sins.

I think this is beautiful symbolism. Does anyone have any comments on the legitimacy of this, i.e., were these really the primary historical uses of these materials, are scholars trying to read too much into this text, etc? Is this a case of "sometimes a gift is just a gift"? It's just one of those commentaries that almost sounds too "neat" to me.
I acually never herd that before. That makes sense though, and I'm supprised that I never thought of that before. Thanks for the little lesson there
Now on if those were just gifts, or if they really represent something....I think that God somehow told the wisemen to bring the gifts for that. Afterall God knows everything and his glory showed through Jesus, so he probably was glorifing himself through the gifts as well.
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Last edited by FiveSpeed93; 12-21-2004 at 11:00 AM.
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Unread 12-21-2004, 10:50 AM   #3
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I'm not necessarily convinced that the astrologers chose the gifts that they gave with such specific intended meaning involved. However, that doesn't mean that God did not.

I don't think that we have the authority to say with any kind of certainty that there's an ontological significance to the gifts--in other words, we can't force the symbolism into the text. However, I do think that recognizing this is a valuable teaching tool. We can teach others that, "It is useful for us to see these gifts this way...", if that makes any sense.
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Unread 12-21-2004, 12:17 PM   #4
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I agree with Luke.

I was watching an interesting program on PBS a year or so ago about the Magi and they offered a different view of the meanings of the gifts. The program was attempting to show that the Magi where a group of Astrologers, and priest of a religion that was traced back to Daniel. I can't remember the meanings, but they where very interesting. I will see if I can find more info on it on the net.

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Unread 12-21-2004, 12:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke
I'm not necessarily convinced that the astrologers chose the gifts that they gave with such specific intended meaning involved. However, that doesn't mean that God did not.

I don't think that we have the authority to say with any kind of certainty that there's an ontological significance to the gifts--in other words, we can't force the symbolism into the text. However, I do think that recognizing this is a valuable teaching tool. We can teach others that, "It is useful for us to see these gifts this way...", if that makes any sense.
i agree as well

sure, there could be meaning behind them, but we will never know (at least on earth). all you can say are opinions. but yeah, could be good for teaching.
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Unread 12-21-2004, 12:33 PM   #6
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Found it, and I guess it is basically the same as posted before. But the Myrrh was described as being much different that I remember being taught. They (the TV program) spoke as if it was used more often for healing than for embalming.

Gold - symbolize status as royalty.
Frankincense - symbolize divinity.
Myrrh - symbolize ability to heal.

The religion is called Zoroastrianism - and from what I can remember from the program the Magi are believed to have started, if you will, the religion.

There is a lot of speculation behind this, so I take it with a grain of salt. But it some what interesting none the less.

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Unread 12-21-2004, 02:27 PM   #7
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I watched a show about this last night on the Public Television channel. They started by saying that once the Magi had seen the stars that told the coming of a new king Israel, they went off on their journey. They continued to say that between the time they saw the star, planned out their route to Jerusulam, arrived in Jerusulam and met with Herod to ask about news of the new king, and made their way to Bethleham, Jesus might have been 2 years old. Now, about the gifts....

The program said that each of them presented their gifts. If the young Jesus took the Gold, he was a worldly king. If he took the Frankenscence, he was a divine ruler. If he took the Myrrh, he was a healer. The young Jesus took all three.

Just one explanation i thought was intresting, take it as you will.
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Unread 12-21-2004, 02:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fendstratplaya
I watched a show about this last night on the Public Television channel. They started by saying that once the Magi had seen the stars that told the coming of a new king Israel, they went off on their journey. They continued to say that between the time they saw the star, planned out their route to Jerusulam, met with Herod to ask about news of the new king, and made their way to Bethleham, Jesus might have been 2 years old. Now, about the gifts....

The program said that each of them presented their gifts. If the young Jesus took the Gold, he was a worldly king. If he took the Frankenscence, he was a divine ruler. If he took the Myrrh, he was a healer. The young Jesus took all three.

Just one explanation i thought was intresting, take it as you will.
Yup that was the program - do you remeber the name of it?

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Unread 12-21-2004, 03:43 PM   #9
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I have no idea. My dad was watching it and I walked in in the middle of the part where they explained what the star could have been (Jupiter is what they thought, I believe). Anywho, the short amount I watched was intresting.
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Unread 12-21-2004, 03:46 PM   #10
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Myrrh as an embalming spice customary in Palestine c. 33 A.D.:

Joh 19:39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.
Joh 19:40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
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Unread 12-21-2004, 09:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke
.... However, that doesn't mean that God did not.

I don't think that we have the authority to say with any kind of certainty that there's an ontological significance to the gifts--in other words, we can't force the symbolism into the text. However, I do think that recognizing this is a valuable teaching tool. We can teach others that, "It is useful for us to see these gifts this way...", if that makes any sense.
Makes perfect sense. I have too often seen that, in an over-reaction to the improper perspective of a sign or teaching tool, people will just say that "God doesn't do that." (Which, engenders the question in me, "Who are you, Sparky, to tell me what God does and doesn't do?" )

If we worship the God of the event, rather than the event itself, then it is fitting to recognize that God does some cool stuff to encourage us in our walks or to reveal Himself or maybe other reasons.
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