The Truth About Angels

The Magi

It was not alone upon the hills of Judea, not among the lowly shepherds only, that angels found the watchers for the Messiah's coming. In the land of the heathen also were those that looked for Him; they were wise men, rich and noble, the philosophers of the East. Students of nature, the Magi had seen God in His handiwork. From the Hebrew Scriptures they had learned of the Star to arise out of Jacob, and with eager desire they awaited His coming, who should be not only the “Consolation of Israel,” but “a Light to lighten the Gentiles,” and “for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” Luke 2:25, 32; Acts 13:47.—The Great Controversy, 315. TA 161.1

The wise men ... had studied prophecy, and knew the time was at hand when Christ would come, and they were anxiously watching for some sign of this great event, that they might be among the first to welcome the infant heavenly King, and worship Him. These wise men had seen the heavens illuminated with light, which enshrouded the heavenly messengers who heralded the advent of Christ to the shepherds of Israel, and after the angelic messenger returned to heaven, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the heavens. The unusual appearance of the large, bright star which they had never seen before, hanging as a sign in the heavens, attracted their attention, and the Spirit of God moved them out to seek this heavenly Visitor to a fallen world.—Redemption or the First Advent of Christ With His Life and Ministry, 16. TA 161.2

As the light [of the angels at Bethlehem] faded, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the sky. It was not a fixed star nor a planet, and the phenomenon excited the keenest interest. That star was a distant company of shining angels, but of this the wise men were ignorant. Yet they were impressed that the star was of special import to them. They consulted priests and philosophers, and searched the scrolls of the ancient records. The prophecy of Balaam had declared, “There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Numbers 24:17. Could this strange star have been sent as a harbinger of the Promised One? The magi had welcomed the light of heaven-sent truth; now it was shed upon them in brighter rays. Through dreams they were instructed to go in search of the newborn Prince.—The Desire of Ages, 60. TA 162.1

Angels of God, in the appearance of a star, conducted the wise men on their mission in search of Jesus. They came with gifts and costly offerings of frankincense and myrrh, to pay their oblation to the infant King foretold in prophecy. They followed the brilliant messengers with assurance and great joy.—The Review and Herald, December 9, 1884. TA 162.2

The wise men directed their course where the star seemed to lead them. As they drew nigh to the city of Jerusalem, the star was enshrouded in darkness, and no longer guided them. They reasoned that the Jews at Jerusalem could not be ignorant of the great event of the advent of the Messiah, and they made inquiries in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They plainly stated their errand. They were in search of Jesus, the king of the Jews, for they had seen His star in the east, and had come to worship Him.—Redemption or the First Advent of Christ With His Life and Ministry 16. TA 162.3

The arrival of the magi was quickly noised throughout Jerusalem. Their strange errand created an excitement among the people, which penetrated to the palace of King Herod. The wily Edomite was aroused at the intimation of a possible rival.... TA 163.1

Herod suspected the priests of plotting with the strangers to excite a popular tumult and unseat him from the throne. He concealed his mistrust, however, determined to thwart their schemes by superior cunning. Summoning the chief priests and the scribes, he questioned them as to the teaching of their sacred books in regard to the place of the Messiah's birth. TA 163.2

This inquiry from the usurper of the throne, and made at the request of strangers, stung the pride of the Jewish teachers. The indifference with which they turned to the rolls of prophecy enraged the jealous tyrant. He thought them trying to conceal their knowledge of the matter. With an authority they dared not disregard, he commanded them to make close search, and to declare the birthplace of their expected King. “And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet.... TA 163.3

The priests and elders of Jerusalem were not as ignorant concerning the birth of Christ as they pretended. The report of the angels’ visit to the shepherds had been brought to Jerusalem, but the rabbis had treated it as unworthy of their notice. They themselves might have found Jesus, and might have been ready to lead the magi to His birthplace; but instead of this, the wise men came to call their attention to the birth of the Messiah. “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” they said; “for we have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him.” TA 163.4

Now pride and envy closed the door against the light. If the reports brought by the shepherds and the wise men were credited, they would place the priests and rabbis in a most unenviable position, disproving their claim to be the exponents of the truth of God. These learned teachers would not stoop to be instructed by those whom they termed heathen. It could not be, they said, that God had passed them by to communicate with ignorant shepherds or uncircumcised Gentiles. They determined to show their contempt for the reports that were exciting King Herod and all Jerusalem. They would not even go to Bethlehem to see whether these things were so.... TA 164.1

The wise men departed alone from Jerusalem. The shadows of night were falling as they left the gates, but to their great joy they again saw the star, and were directed to Bethlehem. They had received no such intimation of the lowly estate of Jesus as was given to the shepherds.... At Bethlehem they found no royal guard stationed to protect the newborn King. None of the world's honored men were in attendance. Jesus was cradled in a manger. His parents, uneducated peasants, were His only guardians.... TA 164.2

“When they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshiped Him.” Beneath the lowly guise of Jesus, they recognized the presence of Divinity.—The Desire of Ages, 61-63. TA 164.3

After the mission of the wise men had been accomplished, they were purposing to return, and bear the joyful news to Herod of the success of their journey. But God sent His angels in the night season to turn the course of the wise men. In the vision of the night they were plainly told not to return to Herod. They obeyed the heavenly messengers, and returned to their homes another way.—Redemption or the First Advent of Christ With His Life and Ministry 19. TA 165.1

In like manner Joseph received warning to flee into Egypt with Mary and the child. And the angel said, “Be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him.” Joseph obeyed without delay, setting out on the journey by night for greater security.... TA 165.2

Herod in Jerusalem impatiently awaited the return of the wise men. As time passed, and they did not appear, his suspicions were roused.... Soldiers were at once sent to Bethlehem, with orders to put to death all the children of two years and under.—The Desire of Ages, 64-66. TA 165.3

But a higher power was at work against the plans of the prince of darkness. Angels of God frustrated his designs, and protected the life of the infant Redeemer.—The Signs of the Times, August 4, 1887. TA 165.4

Joseph, who was still in Egypt, was now bidden by an angel of God to return to the land of Israel; ... but learning that Archelaus reigned in Judea in his father's stead, he feared that the father's designs against Christ might be carried out by the son.... TA 165.5

Again Joseph was directed to a place of safety. He returned to Nazareth, his former home, and here for nearly thirty years Jesus dwelt.... God ... commissioned angels to attend Jesus and protect Him till He should accomplish His mission on earth, and die by the hands of those whom He came to save.—The Desire of Ages, 66, 67. TA 166.1