The Magi and Baby Jesus: Rubel Shelly Faith Matters

The story of the Magi where Rubel Shelly assumes that Matthew misquoted Micah 5:2 goes much deeper than the story of Christmas.

Jesus warned that He wasn't speaking to the doctors of the law because they did not love the truth. As a result, He spoke in parables as He has (as the Spirit of the Prophets) "from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 13). To "He who has ears" Jesus would say "let him hear."

For instance, the story of the clergy "piping" to force Jesus to sing and dance was to guard against the accusation that Jesus was the incarnation of Dionysus or Bacchus.

The story of the "musical mourning team" playing for the dead girl was to prove that Jesus and not their magical music had the power. They believed that music had the power to both resurrect and to appease the spirit or ghost. Jesus was not a demon spirit. He "cast the team out more or less violently" just as he "lovingly" turned over the collection plates in the temple: they were called "trumpets."

Without understanding the Magi it might be easy to assume that those who visited Jesus to fall down in front of Him were "welcomed into the kingdom of God." The fact is that for those who came equipped with ears this is another example of Messiah being superior to all forms of ritualistic magic filling many nooks and crannies of the Word of God.

Far from welcoming the magical soothsayers into the kingdom "regardless of their background" this is a fundamental example of God crushing the "serpent" under the heels of His Incarnate Self.

As the evil would accuse Jesus of being a winebibber or a wholesaler of new wine in new wineskins, they would accuse Him of being a Magian because no other group were known to pretend to supernatural power of knowledge:

Arnobius (quoted below): "My opponent will perhaps meet me with many other slanderous and childish charges which are commonly urged. Jesus was a Magian; (sorcerer) He effected all these things by secret arts.}

When the Magi (soothsayers in Matthew, shepherds in Luke) came to worship the "baby" Jesus it was God's proof that Messiah would be filled with the "spirits" of Divine knowledge and not that of the Magi or soothsayers:

And shall make him of quick understanding (spiritual) in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isaiah 11:3

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. Isaiah 11:4

The Magi's magical incantations or fortune telling could have no effect upon a baby. All they could do was fall down before Him. In Matthew the wise men were:

Magos (g3097) mag'-os; of for. or. [h7248 the "Rabs" ] ; a Magian, i.e. Oriental scientist; by impl. a magician: - sorcerer, wise man.

Their normal practice is described by Luke:

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-Jesus: Ac.13:6

Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. Acts 13:7

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Ac.13:8

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, Acts 13:9

And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? Acts 13:10

Simon Magus continued in history and the mixing of religion and commerce gave rise to "Simony."

"Later, the offense of simony was extended to include all traffic in benefices and all pecuniary transactions on masses (apart from the authorized offering), blessed oils, and other consecrated objects."

A benefice would be to get your buddy on the "team" so that he might have "a crust of bread" by taxing the poor. These clergy teams were held to be the replacement of the Magi with power to intercede between the gods and the paying customer.

See Erasmus on the Monks as Magi

If the Magi are truly astrologers rather than local shepherds then Paul has some interesting comments to show why the Magi must bow to Jesus rather than attempt to replace Him:

THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

Echeo (g2278) ay-kheh'-o; from 2279; to make a loud noise, i.e. reverberate: - roar, sound.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Lu.21:25

Brass: Chalkos (g 5475) khal-kos'; perh. from 5465 through the idea of hollowing out as a vessel (this metal being chiefly used for that purpose); copper (the substance, or some implement or coin made of it): - brass, money.

This word is related to the Chaldeans -- to say Chaldean was to say soothsayer or astrologer or Magi:

Chaldaios (g5466)khal-dah'-yos; prob. of Heb. or. [3778]; a Chaldoean (i.e. Kasdi), or native or the region of the lower Euphrates: - Chaldaean.

Kasdiy (h3778) kas-dee' ... also an astrologer (as if proverbial of that people: - Chaldeans, Chaldees, inhabitants of Chaldea

Kasday (h3779) kas-dah'ee; corresp. to 3778; a Chald an or inhab. of Chalda; by impl. a Magian or professional astrologer: - Chaldean.

Nebel (h5035) neh'-bel; from 5034; a skin- bag for liquids (from collapsing when empty); hence a vase (as similar in shape when full); also a lyre (as having a body of like form): - bottle, pitcher, psaltery, vessel, viol

Nabel (h5034) naw-bale'; a prim. root; to wilt; gen. to fall away, fail, faint; fig. to be foolish or (mor.) wicked; causat. to despise, disgrace: - disgrace, dishonour, lightly esteem, fade (away, - ing), fall (down, -ling, off), do foolishly, come to nought, * surely, make vile, wither..

The Familiar Spirit of the witch of Endor had a similar meaning including "speaking in tongues and of the world or out of the ground."

Owb (h178) obe; from the same as 1 (appar. through the idea of prattling a father's name); prop. a mumble, i. e. a water-skin (from its hollow sound); hence a necromancer (ventriloquist, as from a jar): - bottle, familiar spirit.

And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust. Is.29:4

Cymbal: Kumbalon (g2950) koom'-bal-on; from a der. of the base of 2949; a "cymbal" (as hollow): - cymbal.

Sorcerers still exist trying to replace the Word of Christ with magical fads and rituals. If they do not fall on their face they will have their part with the unbelieving, murders and liars (Re. 18:23; 21:8) as well as the

And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; Revelation 18:22

This story is not to prove that either Joseph or Mary had any authority to welcome them into the kingdom of Christ.

The Sermon From Faith Matters WoodMont Hills in Black. Dr. Shelly begins:

Rubel Shelly: "Always scheming, violent, and unpredictable, he (Herod) became paranoid in his final years. He was so jealous of his favorite wife - among his ten - that he twice ordered that she be killed if he failed to come back from a dangerous mission. He could not bear to think of another man having Mariamne. He did, in fact, have her put to death before he died. Out of suspicion that some of his sons were plotting to take away his throne, he murdered three of them. It is not surprising that Jerusalem was upset about Herod's discomfiture over a "baby born king of the Jews." It could well be the occasion for a murderous rampage in the city.

"Herod did not know the Hebrew Scripture, so he called together the chief priests and teachers of the Law of Moses to get to the bottom of what was happening. They informed him, based on a statement from Micah 5:2, that the Jewish Messiah was to come from Bethlehem of Judah.

"An interesting thing about Micah 5:2 is that it is not quoted quite accurately at Matthew 2:6. A closing line is added to the prophecy from 2 Samuel 5:2, so that it reads this way:

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' Matthew 2:6NIV
The Micah NIV reads:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Micah 5:2NIV

Dr. Rubel Shelly believes that Matthew is inaccurate or may have changed things for some reason based on the statement:

who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' Matthew 2:6NIV

The thesis is that someone added this from 2 Samuel:

THEN came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. 2 Samuel 5:1

Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. 2 Samuel 5:2

It might be that they quoted Micah accurately and it was recorded accurately and that the last line is not a quotation but an explanation.

This speaks clearly of the human David and it is not necessary to reach back that far as far as Samuel for the "shepherd" statements.

The value of allowing the Bible to speak where it speaks is that we don't ascribe error to it. First, the answer must fit the question. So, what was the question?

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. Matthew 2:4

If we look for accurate use of Micah as recorded by Matthew 2:6 the question is answered. They then are at liberty to add any additional comments they wish without making an error.

The Septuagint (LXX) The Version Jesus Read

The Septuagint (LXX) reads differently:

And thou, Bethleem, house of Ephratha, art few in number to be reckoned among the thousands of Judah; yet out of thee shall one come forth to me, to be a ruler of Israel;

and his goings forth were from the beginning, even from eternity. Michah 2:2LXX

Therefore, if they answered the question from the LXX the answer fits the passage in Micah without any error.

The first question is answered: The Spiritual David will come from Bethlehem. In addition they softening of the blow is that Messiah will be a Shepherd and not a "king set over us."

What follows in the LXX gives a student of the Magi another hint. He will be a king but over a spiritual realm and He will be a shepherd so superior to the earthly shepherds or perhaps astrologers that they with all of their rituals must bow before Him.

Remember that Jesus said that the Word had been delivered in parables "from the foundation of the world." (Matt 13). Why? It was to hide the truth from those who do not love the truth. Isaiah 48 goes further to have God explaining that this is to keep the Word away from the "repackagers and retailers" of the free Word (Isa 55). Therefore, wittingly or not they absolutely pointed the sincere seeker of the Word back to Micah to get the ammunition to fend off those specializing in fleecing the flock.

Next, Micah in the LXX immediately follows the "misquoted" passage with the "missing shepherds" after Matthew quotes the relevant part of Micah 5:2.

Paul insisted that if we are "filled with the Spirit" or "filled with the Word of Christ" we will have in our memory banks the Spiritual vocabulary so that we "speak in Psalms" in order to teach one another. Therefore, it is elementary that the Apostles were "filled with the spirit of the Old Testament" and used the "spirit of the prophets" to make their point without bringing their knowledge or inspiration into dispute.

Micah, in "the version Jesus read" continues:

Therefore shall he appoint them to wait till the time of her that travails: she shall bring forth, and then the remnant of their brethren shall return to the children of Israel. Michah 2:3LXX

The prophecy explains how the Lord will lead and teach even as He absolutely dismissed the "doctors of the Law" or "rabbi" or "presiding priest." If we miss this point then we will again and again demand, like Israel's elders, "Set a king over us so that we can worship like the nations." The false teacher may try to be king rather than feeding shepherd and he may be called performing preacher (King and Priest) or "Musical Worship Facilitators" (Levitical musicians) but the "gospel preached beforehand" in Micah promises to free men and women.

And the Lord shall stand, and see, and feed his flock with power, and they shall dwell in the glory of the name of the Lord their God: for now shall they be magnified to the ends of the earth. Micah 2:4LXX

Anyone who "steals the glory" in a religious performance ritual is stealing the glory of the Shepherd and the flock just as the human kings of the Monarchy of Israel and Judah would take the glory of God and to place the "flock" under their control so that they could "butt with the horn and eat the flesh of the lambs."

And the LXX shows that the true Israelites would go out into the world in the midst of those in need as refreshing as dew falling from the Lord. That is, they would feed and not be fed on the wages of the poor:

And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many peoples, as dew falling from the Lord, and as lambs on the grass; that none may assemble nor resist among the sons of men. Micah 2:7LXX

In the KJV Micah 2:7 reads:

O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Micah 2:7KJV

This is a parallelism: the Spirit of the Lord is not limited is parallel to "do not my words do good?"

This is why Jesus said "My words are Spirit and Life" (John 6:63). Therefore, the words of God conveying the Spirit or "mental disposition" of the Lord is the watering dew, and the grass feeds the lambs. Both versions show that the Lord is competent to enable the Lord to do the feeding and watering without a middle man.

At the same time the remnant would would defeat the enemies of the Lord. They would remove the sorcerers and tear down the high places and groves of which Topheth was once "the king's music grove" where even Hebrew babies were "dedicated" but dedicated to Molech.

Micah goes on to issue a modern warning:

In 2:8 "my people" are risen up to take the garments even from those returning from war. Therefore, Micah wrote:

Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. Micah 2:10

If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy (ooze honey) unto thee of wine and of strong drink (strong wine); he shall even be the prophet of this people (congregation). Micah 2:11KJV

Again, Rubel Shelly is troubled by the last part of Matthew's quotation:

Rubel Shelly: who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.

Whether the Jerusalem scholars advising Herod or Matthew altered the verse to include that line is difficult to say.

Those "filled with the OT spirit" through its words fitted them to the need at hand. They were under no obligation to quote the NIV. We believe that they were remembering the LXX and not the NIV. However, we have shown that the message about "shepherds" follows immediately in the LXX.

The verse was not altered by Matthew. For what purpose? To create uncertainty about the Scriptures? No. The people were quoting Miicah and leaving out part of it rather than adding to it because it was not part of the specific question.

Then they added their own understanding of the LXX to Herod to remind them that Messiah would be a shepherd and not a king. This should have calmed him but it did not.

Rubel Shelly: In either case, the prospect of a ruler who would treat the Jews with a shepherd's concern rather than Herodian contempt is a stark contrast in the text

This is not a human king or ruler. Rather, Micah may be prophesying of the modern church. The context begins earlier:

THE word of the Lord that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Micah 1:1

Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord God be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. Micah 1: 2

For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. Micah 1: 3

And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place. Micah 1: 4

For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem? Micah 1: 5


Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof. Micah 1: 6

In Isaiah 5 their religious festivals had included lots of wine music.

And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires (wage of the prostitutes) thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate:

for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot,
and they shall return to the hire of an harlot. Micah 1: 7

This is described in Amos 5 and 6 and includes ritual prostitution and musical instruments in their religious festivals.

The same pattern is repeated of Tyre whose king was the agent of Lucifer:

And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. Is.23:15

The song of the prostitute was this:

"Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. Is.23:16

And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre,

and she shall turn to her hire,

and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. Is.23:17

The spiritual adultery of Tyre whose king was a "change agent of Lucifer" was mixing religion and commerce. A primary weapon of the spiritual prostitute was the singing women with instruments. The goal was to gather more customers. Because the king wanted to be "remembered as a male" it is clear that music as the weapon of the masculine rulership made them male prostitutes.


For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem? Micah 1: 5

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Re.11:8

Micah continues:

Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls. Micah 1: 8

Yalal (h3213) yaw-lal'; a prim. root; to howl (with a wailing tone) or yell (with a boisterous one): - (make to) howl, be howling.

And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence. Am.8:3

The songs were:

Shiyr (h7892) sheer; from 7891; a song; abstr. singing: - musical (-ick), * sing (-er, -ing), song


Shuwr (h7788) shoor; a prim. root; prop. to turn, i. e. travel about (as a harlot or a merchant): - go, sing. See also 7891.

They were marketing their talent for their own gain.

For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem. Micah 1: 9

The Wineskin Factor:

Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust. Micah 1: 10

Gath was the home of the first "new wineskin religion." Gath is from the Hebrew meaning the winepress:

Gath (h1660) gath; prob. from 5059 (in the sense of treading out grapes); a wine-press (or vat for holding the grapes in pressing them): - (wine-) press (fat).

And the New wine got its name from playing musical instruments because some music and old wine got the grape stomping party going:

Nagan (g5059) naw-gan'; a prim. root; prop. to thrum, i. e. beat a tune with the fingers; espec. to play on a stringed instrument; hence (gen.) to make music: - player on instruments, sing to the stringed instruments, melody, ministrel, play (-er, -ing..

Nagan 5059 is used interchangeably with:

Chalal (h2490) khaw-lal'; a prim. root [comp. 2470]; prop. to bore, i. e. (by impl.) to wound, to dissolve; fig. to profane (a person, place or thing), to break (one's word), to begin (as if by an "opening wedge"); denom. (from 2485) to play (the flute): - begin (* men began), defile, * break, defile, * eat (as common things), * first, * gather the grape thereof, * take inheritance, pipe, player on instruments, pollute, (cast as) profane (self), prostitute, slay (slain), sorrow, stain, wound.

Ezekiel's Promise of a Shepherd

By pointing to Micah and its context in the LXX it would have been possible for Herod to understand that Messiah would not be a literal David. The kings (like David) and the elders who demanded "set a king over us" fed themselves and not the flock. Therefore, God would take out the "middle man" and woe to him who reinserts himself (herself) as feeder or mediator:

And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Ezekiel 34:17

Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul (muddied) the residue with your feet? Ezekiel 34:18

And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. Ezekiel 34:19

Therefore thus saith the Lord God unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Ezekiel 34:20

Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Ezekiel 34:21

Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. Ezekiel 34:22

Now, rather than quoting from a human leader which might give authority for modern human "rulers," Matthew understands that this is the spiritual David, ruler and only Shepherd.

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' Matthew 2:6NIV

Prophecy of Messiah who cannot be David:

But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;

Because Micah defines Him as eternal:

whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2KJV

God will come as the One Shepherd and He will do the feeding all by Himself:

And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. Ezekiel 34:23

How does He do this? He does it by teaching and inspiring His Word which can be read by anyone and understood unless a false shepherd had gotten there firest and muddied it.

And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts (wild, merry congregation) to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. Ezekiel 34:25

Remember that we quoted Micah 2:7 from the LXX. It prophesied:

And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many peoples, as dew falling from the Lord, and as lambs on the grass; that none may assemble nor resist among the sons of men. Micah 2:7LXX

In the KJV Micah 2:7 reads:

O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Micah 2:7KJV

There are no priests or musical Levites. God or Jehovah-Saves (Jesus or Joshua) will feed the lambs who have been brought into His fold through His Word which is Spirit and Life (John 6:63). They will dwell safely in their "wilderness" or "woods" out in the "rural" areas and will not need mass meetings with the "urbans." Jesus will be "outside the walls" of the city and if you want to find Him He will be there because it was prophesied that He would call no mass assemblies.

Rubel Shelly: God does not wait for our permission to draw people to his Beloved Son. He is doing that constantly. But he does want us to participate in receiving them into his kingdom, lest our coldness to them become the final, insurmountable barrier that keeps them from Christ.

John Calvin could not have said it better. Don't we give ourselves just too much importance while refusing to evangelize?

If God does not wait for our permission to draw people to His Son how is it that we get the veto power?

Seems to me that the plan was not to "draw" seekers but to "go, preach the gospel" and those who are drawn to Him by His Word will respond. When the gospel is preached, Paul would suggest that he would go on to the next place and preach while allowing God to give the increase. That is, a taught person then deals with God without out warmth or coldness interceding or mediating.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher (herald or evangelist: not a located "Paul Revere.")? Romans 10:14

And again, this may express a Baptist view in which God calls whom He will because He has predestinated them to be saved. However, the members of the church get the honor of welcoming them into the "kingdom."

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things. Romans 10:15

A preacher is a "kerusso" or herald or public crier, a publisher of the Word. He is not a preacher unless he is sent and has beautiful feet.

The Worship of the Magi

When the Magi "worshiped" they simply fell on their faces. They did not sing, preach, take up a collection, play instruments or make announcements. They were the givers directly to Christ and not the collectors at the temple.

There is not the remotest evidence that the Magi were "received into the kingdom" so that they might come to Christ. They went their way deceiving Herod.

Rubel Shelly: The Magi came. Joseph and Mary welcomed them into the presence of the Son of God. They offered their worship. God accomplished his purposes.

Does God still call men to himself today? Do all come from the backgrounds we would like? Do they offer the same form or intensity of worship we do?

So long as we welcome them into the presence of the Son of God by the faithful proclamation of the gospel, is God not able to accomplish his purposes in them?

Who doubts it. However, it is important to understand the meaning of "gospel" and what Jesus came to bring as "good news." The enemies of Christ tried to identify Him with many of the pagan systems of worship. For instance when the clergy "piped" and tried to force Jesus to sing and dance they were testing whether He might be Dionysus returned with new wine, women and music. In the story of the Magi:

Arnobius, Against Heresies, Book 1 shows that this "Christmas" event was to show that Jesus was superior to the magicans:
43. My opponent will perhaps meet me with many other slanderous and childish charges which are commonly urged. Jesus was a Magian; (sorcerer) He effected all these things by secret arts. From the shrines of the Egyptians He stole the names of angels of might (incantations and barbarious names), and the religious system of a remote country. Why, O witlings, do you speak of things which you have not examined, and which are unknown to you,
  • prating with the garrulity of a rash tongue?
  • Were, then, those things which were done, the freaks of demons, and the tricks of magical arts?
Can you specify and point out to me any one of all those magicians who have ever existed in past ages, that did anything similar, in the thousandth degree, to Christ?
  • Who has done this without any power of incantations, (songs)
  • without the juice of herbs and of grasses,
  • without any anxious watching of sacrifices, of libations, or of seasons?
For we do not press it, and inquire what they profess to do, nor in what kind of acts all their learning and experience are wont to be comprised. For who is not aware that these men either study to know beforehand things impending, which, whether they will or not, come of necessity as they have been ordained?
  • or to inflict a deadly and wasting disease on whom they choose;
  • or to sever the affections of relatives;
  • or to open without keys places which are locked;
  • or to seal the month in silence; or in the chariot race to weaken, urge on, or retard horses;
  • or to inspire in wives, and in the children of strangers,
whether they be males or females, the flames and mad desires of illicit love? (Break family ties by bringing plagues into houses)
Or if they seem to attempt anything useful, to be able to do it not by their own power, but by the might of those deities whom they invoke.
44. And yet it is agreed on that Christ performed all those miracles which He wrought
  • without any aid from external things,
  • without the observance of any ceremonial,
  • without any definite mode of procedure,
  • but solely by the inherent might of His authority;
and as was the proper duty of the true God, as was consistent with His nature, as was worthy of Him, in the generosity of His bounteous power He bestowed nothing hurtful or injurious, but only that which is helpful, beneficial, and full of blessings good for men.
59. But when we are discussing matters far removed from mere display, we should consider what is said,
  • not with what charm it is said nor how it tickles the ears,
  • but what benefits it confers on the hearers,
especially since we know that some even who devoted themselves to philosophy,
  • not only disregarded refinement of style,
  • but also purposely adopted a vulgar meanness
    • when they might have spoken with greater elegance and richness,
  • lest forsooth they might impair the stern gravity of speech
  • and revel rather in the pretentious show of the Sophists.
For indeed it evidences a worthless heart to seek enjoyment in matters of importance;
  • and when you have to deal with those who are sick and diseased,
  • to pour into their ears dulcet sounds, not to apply a remedy to their wounds.

And John Chrysostom in Homily I noted the differences between the Here and the There; the there being the methods of the demons and the here being the simple words of Christ:



There indeed are flutes, and harps, and pipes


but here is no music of sounds unsuitable




but what? hymns, singing of psalms





There indeed the Demons are hymned


but here, the Lord of all, God



If the magi worshiped even baby Jesus it is to prove to us that the worship of the magi is absolutely forbidden.

A fundamental tenent of the gospel is that Jesus would come to remove the burden of "spiritual anxiety created by religious ritual" and lead us beside still waters in Green pastures. There the lambs can feed without some preumptive clergy grinding up the grass and muddying the water to make the lambs fat and lazy for "barbecue day."

To, as Albert Barnes puts it, "to preachify or sermonize or versify" the Word of God is treating the flock as "dumb lambs ripe for fleecing" or preparing them for the slaughter by keeping the Spiritual food, peace and rest out of their grasp.

Jesus sent anyone who presumes to be a shepherd out into the wilds to find the lost sheep and not to "assemble" them all in one spiritually dry, arid place.

Chrysostom who lived from AD 347 in Syrian Antioch and died in AD 407 wrote of Colossians 3 and defined it, like Paul, as the way God purposed to do the teaching all by Himself with no role for the magi (soothsayers, etc.)

"Tarry not, I entreat, for another to teach thee; thou hast the oracles of God. No man teacheth thee as they;

for he indeed oft grudgeth much for vainglory's sake and envy.


I entreat you, all ye that are careful for this life, and procure books that will be medicines for the soul. If ye will not any other, yet get you at least the New Testament, the Apostolic Epistles, the Acts, the Gospels,

for your constant teachers.

If grief befall thee, dive into them as into a chest of medicines; take thence comfort of thy trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations;

or rather dive not into them merely,

but take them wholly to thee; keep them in thy mind.

"This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how ought we to come off safe? Well contented should we be if we can be safe with them, let alone without them. Throw not the whole upon us! Sheep ye are, still not without reason, but rational; Paul committeth much to you also.

Someone has decided that after singing a song about five times most people "sing it by rote" without even thinking about the song or its mechanics.

It is utterly impossible to think about "Jesus" when we are singing about Jesus using modern, mind-altering methods.

And even if you make a conscious effort (as I do) to ignore the mechanics of singing and try to remember something you know about Jesus, your mind will be whipped back to the "bad tenor" in front or the "cigarette smoke" wafting up from behind.

Thus, modern singing with non-scriptural content is a deliberate attempt to keep you ever learning but never coming to the truth.

When you have learned something, Chrysostom was wise enough to know, then you don't keep singing it over and over and over.

"They that are under instruction, are not for ever learning; for then they are not taught. If thou art for ever learning, thou wilt never learn. Do not so come as meaning to be always learning; (for so thou wilt never know;) but so as to finish learning, and to teach others.

In the arts do not all persons continue for set times, in the sciences, and in a word, in all the arts? Thus we all fix definitely a certain known time;

but if ye are ever learning, it is a certain proof that ye have learned nothing.

And if you keep on learning the same old songs ye have learned nothing.

"This reproach God spake against the Jews. "Borne from the belly, and instructed even to old age." (Isa. xlvi. 3, 4, Sept.) If ye had not always been expecting this, all things would not have gone backward in this way. Had it been so, that some had finished learning, and others were about to have finished,

our work would have been forward; ye would both have given place to others, and would have helped us as well.

Tell me, were some to go to a grammarian and continue always learning their letters, would they not give their teacher much trouble? How long shall I have to discourse to you concerning life?

In the Apostles' times it was not thus, but they continually leaped from place to place,

appointing those who first learned to be the teachers of any others that were under instruction.

Thus they were enabled to circle the world, through not being bound to one place.

How much instruction, think ye, do your brethren in the country stand in need of, [they] and their teachers?

But ye hold me riveted fast here. For, before the head is set right, it is superfluous to proceed to the rest of the body.

Ye throw everything upon us.

Ye alone ought to learn from us, and your wives from you, your children from you; but ye leave all to us. Therefore our toil is excessive.

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. Heb.5:12

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. Heb. 5:13

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Heb. 5:14

"Teaching," he saith, "and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Mark also the considerateness of Paul.

Seeing that reading is toilsome, and its irksomeness great,

he led them not to histories, but to psalms, that thou mightest at once delight thy soul with singing, and gently beguile thy labors. "Hymns," he saith, "and spiritual songs."

But now your children will utter songs and dances of Satan, like cooks, and caterers, and musicians;

no one knoweth any psalm, but it seems a thing to be ashamed of even, and a mockery, and a joke.

"There is the treasury house of all these evils. For whatsoever soil the plant stands in, such is the fruit it bears; if in a sandy and salty soil, of like nature is its fruit; if in a sweet and rich one, it is again similar. So the matter of instruction is a sort of fountain.

Teach him to sing those psalms which are so full of the love of wisdom; as at once concerning chastity, or rather, before all, of not companying with the wicked, immediately with the very beginning of the book; (for therefore also it was that the prophet began on this wise,

"Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly"; (Ps. i. 1), and again,

"I have not sat in the council of vanity"; (Ps. xxvi. 4, Sept., and again, "in his sight a wicked doer is contemned, but he honoreth those that fear the Lord," (Ps. xv. 4, Sept.,) of companying with the good, (and these subjects thou wilt find there in abundance,) of restraining the belly, of restraining the hand, of refraining from excess, of not overreaching; that money is nothing, nor glory, and other things such like.

"When in these thou hast led him on from childhood, by little and little thou wilt lead him forward even to the higher things.

The Psalms contain all things, but the Hymns again have nothing human.

When he has been instructed out of the Psalms, he will then know hymns also, as a diviner thing.

For the Powers above chant hymns, not psalms.

For "a hymn," saith one, "is not comely in the mouth of a sinner" (Ecclus. xv. 9);

9. A hymn of praise is not fitting on the lips of a sinner, for it has not been sent from the Lord.

10. For a hymn of praise should be uttered in wisdom, and the Lord will prosper it. The Book of Ecclesticus or Sirach

and again, "Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they sit together with me" (Ps. ci. 6, 7, Sept.); and again,

"he that worketh haughtiness hath not dwelt in the midst of my house"; and again, "He that walketh in a blameless way, he ministered unto me." (Ps. ci. 6, Sept.)

Yes, the story the Magi should teach us is that the greatest Christmas warnings included in the Gospel of Christ is that when we "set a king over us" we have guaranteed that the Chief Shepherd will be put in second or third place.

The message of Christmas is that the "tigers and lions" in the big sheep folds are most likely to be scratching and clawing to see who gets the best lamb for Christmas dinner. However, the true Apostolic shepherds will be out in the lonely pastures tending the lambs by leading them beside still waters and allowing them to do their own eating.

The ultimate message of the magi bowing to Jesus is that none of the musical methods of magic have any power exercised only by the Word of God. Religious rituals cannot replace the Word.

The shepherd must also be aware that there is such a thing as "wolves in sheeps clothing" and be able to beat them off the flock without apology.

Rubel Shelly Sermon Reviews

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