For this week and the next two, my dear friend and fellow Army Veteran, Ann Marie, tackles three words common to Christmas, beginning with Gold for this edition of Word Nerd Wednesday.
Gold (Hebrew; zahab, n.): nugget of pure gold; from the root ‘to shimmer and shine’. Also, (Hebrew; paz, n.): purest gold; may also refer to spiritual purity and glory.
Gold (Greek; chrysos or chrysion, n.): gold; gold jewelry or coins.
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary offers the following definition: “Valued and used because of its rarity, beauty, and workability. It can be melted without harm and is extremely malleable. Thus it can be used for cast objects, inlays, or overlays.”
The word gold and its derivatives (including golden and goldsmith) appear at least 455 times, more than any other metal mentioned in the Bible. Throughout scripture, gold is repeatedly seen in the presence of holiness. Beginning in Genesis, we see the Pishon River flowing from Eden through the land of Havilah, which is said to have gold that is good (Gen 2:10-14). The Holy of Holies (Ex 26:31-33), Temple of God (2 Chron 15:18), Arc of the Covenant (Ex 25:10-22), and the cherubim (1 Kings 6:31-2) were all adorned in gold. Many of Israel’s worship objects were made from solid gold (Ex 37). Gold was used for jewelry (Ex 12:35; 1 Tim 2:9), idols, scepters, and money (Matt 10:9; Acts 3:6). Finally, God provides us a glorious glimpse of our eternal home as He describes the New Jerusalem as “the city of pure gold, as pure as glass” (Rev 21:18,21).
The key verse for this week (and the subsequent two), features gold in a way that is unlike any other depiction we find in Scripture. It is a verse that most of us have known, at least in part, from childhood and one that I did not give much deliberate thought to until recently. Here we see gold as a personal, deliberate, and special gift!
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
Gifts!!! Billboards flash with golden lights; shimmering glitter falls from sale flyers that arrive in the mail; texts, emails, and Facebook posts bombard us with reminders that the season of gift giving is upon us!!
If you are like me, you love finding or creating the perfect gift for those loved ones on your list. When we search for gifts, there are many things to consider. What is the reason for giving the gift? Who is the receiver of the gift…what does he/she like, want, or desire? We also consider gifts that are appropriate, practical, as well as desirable to the receiver. The more we know the receiver, the better we are at selecting a perfect gift.
But what about the Magi, the wise men from the east who traveled to Jerusalem to find the newborn Jesus (Matt. 2:11)? How did they determine the best gifts to carry on their journey to present to the young Jesus? Why give gold to a baby?Why give gold to a baby? #wordnerdwednesday #gold #ChristmasStory Click To Tweet
1. They knew the reason for the gift.
The promised Messiah was born! The wise men knew that the birth of Jesus was significant, unlike any other birth in history! They knew the ancient teachings (Is 7:14, 9:6; Mic 5:2) and traveled to King Herod with the question: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matt 2:2). Undoubtedly, they knew this was cause for celebration, worship, and gifts. A gift of fine and precious gold may have been brought specifically to signify Jesus’ innocence and purity.
2. They knew the receiver of the gift.
They recognized Jesus’ sovereignty and His supremacy above all kings and rulers. Greater than any earthly king before or to come, they knew Him as King of the Jews (Matt 2:2, 27:37; Luke 23:38, John 19:19), King of Israel (John 1:49), the One who would be called “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev 19:16). The value and rarity of gold would have assuredly been an appropriate gift for a new king. Early theologian, Origen (185-254 AD) summarized the three gifts of the wise men as follows: “Gold, as to a king; Myrrh, as to one who is mortal; and Incense, as to a God.”
3. They knew the significance of the gift.
The physical gifts were secondary to their worship! When the wise men arrived at the house where young Jesus was, they first “bowed down and worshiped Him” (Matt 2:11). While some claim that the gold may have served a practical purpose in providing Mary and Joseph with financial security as they traveled, it is rather a trivial point. What is significant, however, is that the wise men brought their best worldly possessions, their earthly treasures to the feet of Jesus. Yet they knew the value of gold, frankincense, and myrrh was nothing compared to their worship. Before they gave their gifts, they gave their hearts!
More Precious than Gold
As magnificent and highly valued as gold was when Jesus was born and still today, God uses it to remind us of several truths.
“How much better to get wisdom than gold!” Proverbs 16:16
“More to be desired are they [His precepts] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
“But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Acts 3:6
As we approach this gift-giving season, may we recognize Jesus as the gift far greater than gold and may we, like the Magi, bring our hearts to the King of Kings and to each other before we bring our gifts.As we approach this gift-giving season, may we recognize Jesus as the gift far greater than gold. #wordnerdwednesday #gold Click To Tweet
“Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King;
I wish I could bring so much more…
But if it’s true You use broken things,
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours”
-Matthew West Broken Things
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light.