After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Christ would be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah:
Because out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship him.” After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen at its rising. It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-12 (CSB)
Years ago, my husband started a Christmas tradition where he gives me a nativity set every year. He searches for sets that are made from different materials — whether porcelain, wood, pewter, or glass. When I set out the nativities, I place the wise men at some distance from the rest of the scene. It’s one way I like to remember that they didn’t arrive in time for Jesus’s birth. After the angels sang and the shepherds came, the wise men traveled two more years before reaching the young King born in Bethlehem.
I often wonder if they were considered wise because they understood the significance of the new star in the sky? Or if they were wise because of who they journeyed toward? Can we be as wise today? Can we stay the course when the road is long? Thankfully, we don’t have to ride a camel across a desert to find Jesus. All we need to do is open our Bibles. He’s right there, on every page.
Knowing how to study the Bible, however, isn’t an instantaneous thing. We don’t master it in a week or a month or even a year. As you prepare for the New Year, here are a few tips for diving into God’s Word as you seek Him with all your heart:
- Prayerfully select a book of the Bible to study.
- Ask God to reveal Himself to you as you read His Word. (Pray the words of Psalm 119:18.)
- Read the introduction to the book of the Bible.
- Note who wrote it and the author’s purpose for writing it.
- Read the entire book you’ve selected, all the way through, from start to finish.
- Write down any questions you have in the margins.
- Look up any words you’re not familiar with.
- Underline any passages that stand out to you.
- Read the book again, but this time slower, savoring each passage.
- Look up any cross references or footnotes beneath the biblical text.
- Rewrite a passage in your journal or notebook.
- Talk to God about the passage you’ve read.
- Ask Him how He wants you to respond to His Word.
Some of your questions about the Bible will be answered with a first or second reading, while other questions may take longer. Be willing to wait for the answers. Remember the wise men? They spent two years journeying toward Jesus. We won’t need that long to understand the major parts of the Bible, but we do want to be committed for the long haul, trusting that a fuller understanding of the Bible will indeed come with time.
The beauty of God’s Word is so wonderfully deep that we could spend a lifetime mining its depths and still find new gems each day. And every day is another step in the journey toward our true home with our Father.
We hope today finds you looking forward to the new year. Thanks for joining us today for this excerpt from the (in)courage Devotional Bible! May your last day of 2018 be full of hope and expectancy for what’s to come.
The beauty of God’s Word is so wonderfully deep that we could spend a lifetime mining its depths and still find new gems each day. -@DeniseJHughes: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
I want to let you know that every time I try to access Denise’s site on the link you provide, I get a warning from McAfee saying the site is not safe. Everyday I read the devotions and then visit the author’s page. Others may be getting this as well.
I just started studying a new book of the Bible today. I love the reminder of the richness of Scripture.
Michele Morin says
In our home, we’ve made a game of the wise men’s journey. When my sons were small, every day my husband would hide them, and it would be the day’s task to locate them. Finally on January 6, they arrived on the shelf with the rest of the manger scene. I love that tradition, and Denise! You have given this great application, tying their journey into the unknown with our need to sit in the chair of unknowing as we approach Scripture and patiently seek the Truth that God promises we will find there.
Thank you for this great insight! I’m coming back from a very restful blogging break, and this is one of the first posts before my eyes, and it’s appropriate as we all begin a new year of pursuing truth together and individually.
I so appreciate your love for the Word of God.
Lara Sadowski says
Denise, thank you for this devotional! I am so excited to dive into God’s Precious Word today and everyday. We can meet Jesus on every page – what Great News!
Happy New Year! Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow! <
Joy in Jesus,
Thank you for this list! It will certianly help me as I struggle with really studying the Bible.
I’m not disagreeing, just wondering. Could you share how/where you learned that the wise men came two years later? It seems to be something I heard before but don’t know much about. Was it learned through historical context, leaders at the time, etc more than actually stated in the Bible?
I’m not the author of this, and I could definitely be wrong, but I think the two-years ballpark is usually based on Herod ordering all 2-years-old-and-younger children in and around Bethlehem to be killed (Matthew 2:16) – he would have gone for a larger margin if the wise men had seen the star earlier than two years previous, and presumably less if the wise men had only seen the star a month ago. I don’t think we know whether the star appeared to the wise men while they were still at home well before Jesus was born or right when Jesus was born, but I’m nowhere near an expert on this.
From the beginning of Matthew 2, we know that the wise men definitely arrived after Jesus was born, though, because they’re asking directions *after* Jesus was born (Matthew 2:1), have to wait for the directions, and then would need to travel to Bethlehem. (so, no wise men + shepherds at the same time unless the shepherds came back to visit)
At any rate, getting from Point A to Point B back then took… a while, anyway… especially if they were not traveling along trade routes (see: following a star). Even if they were traveling along regular trade routes, there wasn’t a road exactly (mountains! deserts! rivers!), and there weren’t regularly-spaced Motel 6s along those paths, so they’d still need to set up camp and pack up most days – and they’d likely have a whole caravan along for protection from bandits (see: strangers bearing expensive gifts) – and you can’t travel much faster than the slowest thing you have along, nor can you keep everyone at the fastest pace possible for much time at all. That said, probably not two full years? But a while, anyway.
Beth Williams says
I have read through the Bible several times. Each time something new sticks out. I have also found that doing Bible studies & hearing several preachers can help glean more information. For instance this year I ascertained that God made the Sabbath for us. He freed us from the slavery of sin so now we need to Rest on a Sabbath. I, like most, have thought that there were just 3 wise men. Wrong. There were many & it took years to make the trek to Bethlehem. Each Bible study teaches me something new I hadn’t thought about. This was my first time seeing a live nativity-our church did one. It was awe inspiring & made it come to life. Reality set in on just what happened & the weather conditions. It is important before reading a book in Bible to know who wrote it & who was the intended audience, what it’s about, why was it written, where did the events happen, & when was it written. Keep the book in context. This year it will be fun to glean new Bible information with my hubby.
Have a blessed & great New Year!! 🙂
This was really helpful, thank-you for sharing your post, and for,
Psalm 119:18- “Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction”.
I hope that you all have a blessed & Happy New Year