Ellen G. White Writings

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Humble Hero, Page 23

them. The journey, though long, was a happy one.

They had reached the land of Israel and had Jerusalem in sight, when suddenly the star rested above the temple. Eagerly they hurried onward, confidently expecting the Messiah’s birth to be the joyful subject on every tongue. But to their amazement, they found that their questions called forth no joy but rather surprise and fear, even mingled with contempt.

The priests boasted of their religion and piety while they denounced the Greeks and Romans as sinners. The wise men were not idol worshipers, and in the sight of God, they stood far higher than His professed followers, yet the Jews looked on them as heathen. Their eager questions touched no chord of sympathy.

Herod’s Jealousy Awakened

The wise men’s strange errand created an excitement among the people of Jerusalem that reached to the palace of King Herod. The crafty Edomite was troubled at the suggestion of a possible rival. Being of foreign blood, he was hated by the people. His only security was to stay in Rome’s favor. But this new Prince had a higher claim—He was born to the kingdom.

Herod suspected the priests of plotting with the strangers to stir up a rebellion and unseat him. He was determined to thwart the scheme by outsmarting them. He called in the priests and questioned them regarding the place of the Messiah’s birth.

This inquiry from one who was not rightfully king, and made at the request of strangers, stung the pride of the Jewish teachers. They turned to the rolls of prophecy with indifference, and this enraged the jealous tyrant. He thought they were trying to conceal their knowledge. With an authority they dared not disregard, he commanded them to make a close search and to tell him the birthplace of their expected King. “So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

“But you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler,
Who will shepherd My people Israel.”’”

Herod now invited the wise men to a private interview. Anger and fear were raging in his heart, but he put on a calm exterior and claimed to welcome with joy the birth of Christ. He urged his visitors, “Search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

The priests were not as ignorant as they pretended. The report of the angels’ visit to the shepherds had come to Jerusalem, but the rabbis had treated it as unworthy of notice. They themselves might have been ready to lead the visitors to Jesus’ birthplace, but instead, the wise men came to call their attention to the birth of the Messiah.

If accepted, the reports that the shepherds and the wise men brought

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