The Characters of Christmas #4: The Wise Men On this the last Sunday before Christmas, many will gather in church to hear the familiar Christmas readings and sing some of their favourite carols. In a poll of the nation’s favourite carols taken last year, the one that came out on top was “O Holy Night” which contains the line, “so led by the light of a star sweetly gleaming, here come the wise men from Orient land”. Who were these wise men, where did they come from and when did they arrive? These are questions that have baffled historians and scholars because very little information is given to us in the bible. It’s often the case that when there are few details given, folklore and tradition fill in the gaps. That’s why many people assume there were three kings when we don’t know how many there were or if they were really kings at all! If you were to do a Google search asking, “where is the Orient?” you would probably get directions to your local Chinese takeaway! The word “orient” simply means “east” and some suggest that these wise men may have begun their journey in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen. Today, this part of Asia is particularly resistant to the spread of the gospel, yet despite the opposition and persecution, God is doing amazing things in these lands. There are some fantastic stories of answered prayer and many people are reading the bible for themselves and finding Christ. When the star rested over Bethlehem, the wise men went in search of the new-born King and upon finding Him they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts are significant in their meaning; gold being such a valuable commodity recognises the kingship of Christ. Frankincense was used in temple worship and points towards Christ’s priestly role as our intercessor. Myrrh was one of the spices used in anointing bodies in preparation for burial so prophetically it points forward to the death of Christ as He gave His life and died for us. Today, as you sing those familiar carols and worship Christ the new-born King, please pray for the billions of people in “the east” who are waiting to hear the wonderful news of a Saviour. You can sign up to receive the Christmas devotions by email straight to your inbox. Sign up here! --- To celebrate God's faithfulness throughout our 20 years of ministry in Asia, our goal this Christmas is to provide 20,000 copies of His Word to a people group in Myanmar, that they might know Him and receive eternal life! Find out more!