“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem…” (Matthew 2:1a)
What do we actually know about the Magi? Were they just a bunch of astrologers? Were they magicians or sorcerers? What was their nationality? Where in the east did they live?
There is much about these guys that we don’t know, but the little bit that we do know reveals to us a group of people who truly believed in the coming Messiah.
Who were these guys? They are correctly called Magi in the bible. The Magi were a tribe of eastern people who go way back into antiquity. They were the tribe that was given the responsibility of being the religious leaders—the priests of the culture. It was their job to study the holy books, study the stars, interpret dreams, and advise the kings.
Racially, they were from a tribe of people called the Medes. The Medes lived in the area now called Iraq and Iran. You can trace their lineage all the way back to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees. Remember it was the Babylonians who captured Jerusalem and took the people captive. One of these was Daniel who became an official in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Later when Medo-Persian Empire captured Babylon, Daniel became a member of the Medo-Persian court. In that court were Medes who were a part of a ruling religious tribe known as the Magi. Isn’t this amazing? Daniel had contact with the Magi over 500 years before Christ was born.
After Daniels success in interpreting the king’s dream, he was made the chief Magi, the head of all the wise men in Babylon. What’s so amazing about all this? Here’s my point! Daniel a Jewish exile was placed by God in the same court with Median Magi for the purpose of teaching them about the coming Messiah. For 500 years the Magi were looking to see how the God of Daniel would send the Messiah. Make no mistake, these guys were VERY powerful. They were basically the “king-makers” of their time.
God was working behind the scenes throughout history preparing the way for Jesus’ arrival. When He arrived—the Magi sought him out—to worship Him.