Recognizing the Signs of the Times
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" (Matt 2:1-2).
God is looking for leaders who recognize the signs of their times. Such was the case of the wise men who were so in tune with their times they were able to pinpoint when the long awaited Messiah was born. They recognized God had come in their midst.
These men were philosophers, priests, or astronomers and lived chiefly in Persia and Arabia. They were marketplace ministers of the Eastern nations devoted to astronomy, to religion, and to medicine. They were held in high esteem by the Persian court, were admitted as counselors, and followed the camps in war to give advice. They came from the professional ranks in society and were sought out by the kings of the nation. They would be the authorities in their field of expertise. This is why they were able to meet with King Herod. (v7)
They were likely aware of the prophecy of Balaam, Num 24:17, "There shall come a star out of Jacob," etc. They came and gave three distinct gifts—each represented a prophetic significance. They were gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark, and suffering the gum to flow out. It is highly odoriferous or fragrant when burned, and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. Myrrh was also a production of Arabia, and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. The name itself denotes bitterness, on account that it is significantly bitter. It was used chiefly in embalming the dead, because it had the property of preserving dead bodies from putrefaction. 
Like the men of Issachar, who "understood the times and knew what Israel should do," (1 Chron 12:32) the three wise men knew what they were to do because they were aware of God's activities in their times.
Are you recognizing God's activity in your times?
  (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
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