Read: Isaiah 41:2, “Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow.”
The Bible uses images; that’s how you explain spiritual truths in a physical universe. “The Lord is our shepherd” is an image. “We are His flock, the sheep of His pasture” is another image (we’re not literally sheep). “Living Water”, “Bread of Life”, “Lion of Judah”, “Alpha and Omega”, “Lamb of God”, “Light of the World” – the list is long. There are many images, because people need the Lord in many ways.
Some books of the Bible use many images and symbols – that’s why the book of Revelation is so hard to understand, and why so many Christians disagree on what it says. It was intentionally written in a symbolic code, and we no longer have the complete “key” for decoding. Arguably, we are not supposed to know some things, i.e. Jesus says only the Heaven Father knows the time of His return (Mark 13:32). I’m amazed at how many Christians spend so much time trying to figure that out.
So, the wisemen came from the east. What is the significance of this? It’s symbolic. When God wanted to start a chosen people that would be a light unto the other nations of the world, God chose Abraham and Sarah who came from the east to the promised land. More basic to archetypal symbolism is that the sun rises in the east. Light (and insight) comes from the east. In our language the phrase, the “Dawning of a new day” is symbolic image of a new movement in culture and in the world.
We see it again in the prophecy of when Christ returns (Matthew 24:26-27). It is a mistake to take it literally, because the truth is conveyed through symbolism. Isaiah 41:2 is a prophetic verse 600 years before Jesus was born. Some Jews today believe it is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled, while some Christians think it applies to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Most Bible scholars believe it applied to King Cyrus, the Persian King in the Old Testament (from the east), who would defeat the Babylonian Empire and set free God’s people from slavery in Babylon.
The wisemen represent another truth: God’s Messiah is for everyone, and anyone in the world who is open to God’s truth will see in Christ God’s love and light.
Pastor Rob Nystrom