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8. THE WORSHIP OF THE WISE MEN. WHEN the Saviour of the world was born, only a few pious people knew it. They rejoiced at His coming. The greater number of the people of Israel knew nothing about it. God, however, resolved that all the people should know that His Son was born. One day there came to Jerusalem some great people from the East. Some say they were kings. They asked the people, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him."
It was soon known all over Jerusalem that these great men had come to see a new-born king. When King Herod heard it, he was in great trouble, for he was afraid of losing his crown. He then
called the chief priests and scribes together, and asked them "where Christ should be born." They said, "In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet."
Herod then sent for the wise men, and asked them about the star which they had seen. After they had told him, he sent them to Bethlehem, and said to them,
Go, and search diligently for the young Child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also."
These words of Herod were false, and were said only to hide his wicked cruelty. He did not mean to worship Jesus; but he wished to find out where He was, that he might kill Him.
The wise men now set off for Bethlehem, which was near Jerusalem. As they went, they saw the star again, which
had appeared to them in the East, and they were very glad. It was shining brightly in the heavens; and it went before them, till it came and stood over the place where Jesus was.
They then entered the house, and found the young Child with His mother. When they saw Jesus, they fell down and worshipped Him. The wise men then opened their treasures, and presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh, unto Jesus. They offered these things, because they knew that He was their King and Saviour.
The next morning they meant to go back to King Herod. But God knew Herod's wicked thoughts, and He warned them in a dream not to do so. The wise men obeyed God, and returned home by another way.
9. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.
HEROD waited impatiently for the wise men to return. When he found they did not come, he was very angry. He then cruelly ordered all the infants of two years old and upwards, living in Bethlehem, to be murdered. By this cruel order he made sure of destroying the Child which made him so fearful. But God knew all the plans of this wicked man, and how to defeat them. He sent an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."
Joseph arose in haste, and taking Jesus, with His mother, he fled by night into Egypt.
They must have felt sorry to leave their
country; but they cheerfully did as God commanded them; and set out on their journey, trusting in Him who watches over and protects the innocent.
The murderers sent by Herod soon reached Bethlehem. They went all round the country, and dragged the innocent babes from their mothers' arms, and killed them without pity. The screams of these little children were heard on all sides. Their poor mothers cried aloud, and thus fulfilled this prophecy : "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not."
The wicked Herod thought that by doing this he should secure the crown to himself.