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The story behind the song, "We Three Kings." It 'ain’t’ what you think!

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This is the last in this series of telling the story of Christmas in song and sharing the story behind each one.

If you miss any of the first ones, you may wish to come back to these later.

Silent Night told of the night,” “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” told the story of the setting (town),” “The First Noel” told the story of how the shepherds were informed of the birth of the Savior and “Away in a Manger” tells the story of Jesus’ birth and his loving mother, Mary. “We Three Kings” tells the entire Gospel of Jesus in one little song.

You might be amazed when you realize that the song “We Three Kings,” is not about these kings at all. Their significance is far more reaching than we may have ever realized.

You may also be amazed at how an angel, a star, and men riding animals will play out in the Second Coming of Jesus.

There are so many wonderful carols that have been written all across the centuries. We can take from each one a blessing and a better understanding of the miracle that happened more than 2,000 years ago in a little obscure place called Bethlehem. And then adding to them one of the most important hymns of all time, “He Arose!”

Jesus was born on earth to die; but to rise on the third day to bring hope and salvation to the world; just as we all were.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27

Jesus was born a baby, died a man, rose as Son of God and will return as judge.

The scripture tells us that three Wisemen (kings) came from afar following a star to the place where Jesus was. They knew the prophecy and they knew the sky and then knew when a new star appeared in that sky it was beckoning them to follow it. This was not about the Wisemen but the STAR!

There are so many symbols of Christmas but none more poignant and significant than the star. The star was the shining light that brought mankind to the manger – and from that manger came a Savior, who is the light of the world.

The story:

“Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr. was an author, book illustrator, stained glass window designer, clergyman and editor of the New York Church Journal. He wrote "We Three Kings" for an 1857 Christmas pageant put on by the General Theological Seminary of New York City. In 1863, he also published the Christmas Carol in his book Carols, Hymns and Song.

We Three Kings, also known as The Quest of the Magi is based on a story from the Bible, telling of men who traveled a long distance (most likely from Persia), guided by a star to see the child Jesus, the promised Messiah.”

The song:

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light.

We three kings of Orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Following yonder star.

Born a king on Bethlehem's plain, Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never Over us all to reign.

Frankincense to offer have I. Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising, Worship Him, God on high.

Myrrh is mine: Its bitter perfume Breathes a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and Sacrifice.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Sounds through the earth and skies."

The scripture:

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. “ (Matthew 2:1-2)

The lesson:

One cannot see who lives in total darkness. There must be light of some sort – large or small – to be able to see. The world lay in spiritual darkness as it does today and there had to be a spiritual light to reflect on the world so that sinful men could see by it. When God created the world, the first thing He said was, “Let there be light!”

As you read the scripture below imagine that God is speaking to the world today – and He is – and you will get a better understanding of light and how it repels the darkness.

The Beginning:

“In the beginning, God created (America) the heavens and the earth. The earth (America) didn’t have any shape. And it (America) was empty. Darkness was over the surface of (America) the ocean. At that time, the ocean covered the earth. The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

“God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. God saw that the light was good. He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day.” He called the darkness “night.” There was evening, and there was morning. It was day one.” Genesis 1

The Bible is a book of numbers and they are significant in many ways – and each day that comes and goes takes us closer to eternity.

In the scripture, God is saying, “It is day one!” That was the beginning; but everything that has a beginning has an end according to the process of earthly things. Perhaps God is now saying to us, “Today is day one – of the countdown to the last day for the world!”

We can choose to continue walking around in the dark stumbling over everything that is in our pathway or we can choose to turn the light on in our hearts and life and see a clear path to where we are heading.

“Jesus is the light of the world!” John 8:12

His birth was hailed by a light, His ministry on earth was a light to the world and He will come again in light so bright it is called, lightning.”

“Lightning that comes from the east can be seen in the west. It will be the same when the Son of Man comes.” Matthew 24:27

As you can see this song is not about three guys; but the story of Christ all rolled up into one song: His birth, His sacrifice, and His return.

While the Second Coming of Jesus will be the end of the earthly story, it also will start with an angel and a star.

“The fifth angel blew his trumpet. Then I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the tunnel leading down into the Abyss. When the star opened the Abyss, smoke rose up from it like the smoke from a huge furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.” Revelation 9:1

You may wish to read the end of the story as found in Revelation – there will not be three Wisemen riding on camels; but there will be four horsemen to arrive on the scene at the Second Coming and they will not bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh but death, destruction, and mayhem.

Each of us was given life – one day that life on earth will cease to be. However, each can also receive eternal life that has no end. That is the reason Christ came to earth that we might have life and that we may have eternal life. Who would not give that which is temporary for that which is forever and eternal? ~~~

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