7 “Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.”
Matthew 2:7-12 NASB
In Ancient history, bowing before kings and queens was a common gesture that was often required upon entering the presence of royalty. In certain countries and regions, you might even find this gesture still being practiced today! It is a symbol of respect, honor, and reverence! The descent of the body from an upright position to a bowed position demonstrates the individual’s acknowledgement of the King’s royalty and authority! Conversely, refusing to bow, whether to the king or even the god of the king, was perceived as flippant and disrespectful (just ask Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-nego when they refused to kneel down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image in Daniel 3). This simple action of bowing carried and still carries to this day so much significance when an individual chooses to do it and also when one refuses to do it.
The magi, or the wise men, from the East had no issue with bowing down in reverence and submission to the King, that is the true King, Jesus Christ, who had just been born in Bethlehem. In fact, they arrived in Jerusalem specifically looking for Jesus for the sole purpose of worshipping Him: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (cf. Matthew 2:2). The magi were alternatively known as wise men for very good reason! They specialized in the subjects of astronomy, astrology, and natural science, the former two offering insight as it pertains to their fascination and recognition of Jesus’ star in the East. King Herod brought the magi before all the chief priests and scribes of the people to inform them all of the location of the Messiah’s birthplace, to which the magi replied with a prophecy from the prophet Micah: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are no by means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel” (cf. Matthew 2:6).
Envious and threatened by Jesus’ birth as the King of the Jews, King Herod sent the magi to Bethlehem to find Jesus and to report the exact location of His birthplace back to him so that he may travel to His location and kill Jesus, as opposed to worshipping Him, which he falsely claimed that He would do! As they set out on their journey to Bethlehem, the magi were led by the star that they saw in the East until it hovered over the exact location of Jesus’ birthplace. Upon seeing the star, they rejoiced greatly knowing that they would soon lay their eyes upon the King of the Jews! Upon entering the house and seeing baby Jesus in the arms of Mary his mother, the magi immediately fell to the ground and worshipped Him! Before they even offered Jesus their expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the magi humbly and reverently bowed down and worshipped Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
In the Hebrew language, the phrase “fell to the ground” carries the meaning of descending from an upright position to a prostrate position. Whether they kneeled down and bowed their heads or completely stretched out with their faces and bodies on the ground or both, we cannot be completely certain. In either position, however, the magi nonetheless bowed before Jesus. What made the magi’s reverence that much more powerful and significant was their acknowledgement of Jesus’ identity, especially as a baby! Ancient kings typically ruled and reigned in their younger to older adult years. However, the magi bowed in complete submission and reverence to a newborn baby because they discerned through the Old Testament prophecies that this newborn baby was the Messiah, the King of the Jews, in the flesh! These men were highly-educated specialists in some of the most profound subjects in the world, and yet they did not consider worshipping the King of the Jews as a baby in honor and adoration as beneath them!
Unfortunately, we as believers in this current age did not have the incredible opportunity to look upon the face of God in the flesh as a baby, a teenager, or an adult as many individuals in the New Testament did! Nevertheless, we can and should still bow down and worship the Lord in all His beauty and holiness! He has revealed Himself to us through the person of Jesus Christ, who is the living Word of God! Therefore, as we seek Him day and night and delve into the Scriptures, the more we will be able to see Him in all His essence by faith! No title, position or educational rank should elevate us past the point of being unable or unwilling to bow and or lay prostrate before the King of glory! While our knowledge is limited, His knowledge knows no limitations! Although our earthly education, ranks, and titles carry some weight here in the Earth realm, His uncreated and eternal essence transcends any status or position created by and known to man! Let prostrate be the daily posture of your heart before the Lord, not solely a physical gesture displayed only in His sanctuary!
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Source: Transformation Christian Fellowship