December 23, 2016


Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Back when I was the Associate Pastor at Full Gospel Assembly in Salt Lake City, the Senior Pastor was a big Greek fellow by the name of Bill Christopulos.  More than any other person in my life, he got me interested in the historical significance of words -- the etymology, if you will.  Webster's Dictionary defines etymology like this: "The origin and historical development of a linguistic form as shown by determining its basic elements, earliest known use, and changes in form and meaning, tracing its transmission from one language to another, identifying its cognates in other languages, and reconstructing its ancestral form where possible."


Bill, being a Greek, and very fluent in the usage of the language, started me on a trek that has lasted throughout my life.  I have come to really enjoy the process of studying the history and usage of the Greek language, as well as English, and -- of course -- Hebrew.  It didn't hurt that I had been required to study Latin while attending Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute in Toronto some ten years earlier, and my limited knowledge of Latin served as a great foundation for my language studies.  It was Bill, incidentally, that gave me my very first Greek text of the New Testament, a study reference book that I still use today some 40 years later.


I've said all that to say this: While reading from Matthew's account of Jesus' birth, I was curious about the phraseology he uses as he relates the account of the "wise men" who came to see Jesus when He was perhaps 18 months-to-two years old.



The KJV reads (see Chapter 2:9-11) like this: "When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh."



Now, I've included a couple extra verses (9-10) for historical purpose.  My father spent perhaps 20 years researching the Star that foretold the coming of Jesus, and I have most of his notes compiling that research.  I was fascinated the other day to see a program on television where an attorney followed pretty much the same trek that Dad followed, and he arrived at the same conclusions.



The Star of Bethlehem is no myth, and -- contrary to the conclusions of some ignorant unbelievers -- neither are the wise men.  Dad came to the conclusion that most people who had researched this event were looking at the wrong years, and he was able to prove conclusively that Jesus was born in either 2 or 3 BC (depending on your interpretation of the Gregorian calendar).  But that's another topic.  Perhaps I'll take time to do a Coffee Break one of these days on the scientific and historical proofs of Jesus' birth, and the stupendous evidence that the wise men had at their disposal that triggered their search for Jesus.



Let me lay a little foundation for what I want to share with you for today's discussion.



There is a fair amount of historical and archaeological evidence to show that Daniel established a "school of prophets" when he became the Prime Minister during the reign of Darius.  Because of Daniel's great wisdom and knowledge of the Word of God, of course, he was elevated to the office of Prime Minister following the lion's den event.


All the sorcerers and magicians who had been the king's advisors were thrown into the lion's den and killed by the lions.  The "prophets" who grew up under Daniel's tutelage were referred to as "magi.": -- men of wisdom.  The term was later applied to all the advisors who served later kings, despite the fact that many of them returned to their traditions in sorcery, witchcraft and astrology.



The term, "magi", however was principally used to define the wise men who came out of Daniel's "school of prophets" and these "magi" became the counselors, advisors, and ministers of varying degree.  Daniel, in his teaching and training of these wise men, acquainted them thoroughly with the Scriptures, and particularly the prophecies of the expected coming Messiah.



Every one of them knew the Scriptures intimately and knew the significance of the coming Messiah's birth, and His rank as "King of Kings."  Thus, despite the fact that more than four centuries had elapsed since Daniel's death, the magi continued to follow the prophecies and await the promised "signs in the heavens."



As counselors and advisors and ministers to kings, these magi held great rank and privilege.  When they finally saw the first of the signs in the heavens foretelling the coming birth, they would have had the support and financing of royal treasuries to pay homage to this great king.



Herod's fears notwithstanding, it was traditional practice in the east for kings to pay their respects one to another -- and generally with extravagant gifts and wealth.  These extravagant gifts were meant to display a picture of their own wealth and to signify to the recipient king their approval of him as one of them.


There is a picture worth looking at for a minute in order to grasp the significance of this.  If you look at the account of the Queen of Sheba's visit to Solomon, you read (in II Chronicles 9:9), "And she gave the king and hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon."



There are a number of other accounts throughout the Old Testament of the gifts that kings brought to other kings, or sent via their trusted advisors, and there is good reason from Matthew's account of the magi to understand that these wise men came bearing similar honors.


Consider the phraseology in Matthew 2:11: "...and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh."  The phrase which reads, "opened their treasures" in the Greek text uses a unique word -- and one that students of the English language have come to know well: "thesauros"   



Many folks are familiar with Roget's Thesaurus, which is a vastly expanded dictionary with meanings and synonyms that better define the words contained.


The Greek "thesauros" however, has an interesting definition.  It describes "a vast deposit of wealth."  It draws, therefore, the picture of a camel train accompanying the wise men (it is safe to say that the number of wise men likely exceeded the traditional, religious picture of "three.") bearing a considerable burden of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Matthew's usage of this word in describing what the magi brought to Jesus becomes apparent when we see the picture of the gifts that the queen of Sheba brought to Solomon.


My current volume of Strong's Concordance contains a table of weights, measures and monetary exchange values.  It lists the value of a "talent of gold" as being equal to a million dollars in today’s American currency.  When you realize that she brought to Solomon a hundred and twenty talents of gold, that amounted to $120 Million.


We don't have a record of how many talents of gold the magi brought to Jesus, but from Matthew's use of the word "thesauros", it takes no great rocket science to determine that they brought to Jesus the equivalent of millions of dollars.  The silly picture foisted off on the body of Christ of a wise man carrying this little box containing perhaps a few coins of gold simply doesn't match the Scriptural description.  Jesus began life as a VERY rich person.  He was accorded the wealth and riches associated with a king.



Thus, we have the reference that the apostle Paul makes when he writes of Jesus, "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich (plousios -- wealthy, abounding in goods), yet for your sakes He became (or took upon Himself poverty) poor, that ye through His poverty (on the Cross) might be rich."  (II Corinthians 8:9, KJV with my notations)



Jesus was indeed a very rich man.



We have one more picture from which we can draw the picture of Jesus being very well off.  In John 1:35-39, we have the story of the two disciples of John the Baptist who decide to follow Jesus.  When Jesus realizes that they are following Him, he says to them, "What are you seeking?"  Their response is, "Master (or Rabbi), where do you live?"



He answers them, "Come and see," and then proceeds to take them to His home, where they wind up spending the remainder of the day and the night.  Jesus wasn't still living with His mother, Mary, contrary to another popular misconception.  He had a place of His own, and it was suitable for overnighting guests.



These disciples weren't just following Jesus to find out where He lived, or if He owned a home.  They wanted to find out if this "Lamb of God" was a man of substance.  He was, indeed, the polar opposite of His cousin, John the Baptist, who lived a pretty wild and "far out" life in the wilderness.  These disciples wanted to see if Jesus was someone they would want to follow, and His bringing of them to His home obviously resolved their question.



There are many more such pictures in the Word, but let's leave it there for now.  The economics of God's Kingdom certainly did not avoid natural wealth and riches despite the claims of unbelievers who want to paint Jesus as some poverty-stricken "humble" person.  Remember, Judas was not Jesus' treasurer for nothing.



He didn't carry a bag containing a few coins worth just enough in value to get them by.  Jesus had financial resources available to Him: the resources of a King.  That wealth enabled Him to have the freedom to travel and minister as He saw fit -- AND to take care of the needs of those who "forsook all and followed Him."



By putting Jesus first in every aspect of our lives, He becomes the focus, the priority, the objective and purpose of our desire.  Our desire becomes His desire.  When that becomes the case, our entire daily life becomes a function of laying up treasure in Heaven's treasuries -- and that treasure has an exchange value in earth's currencies far beyond any exchange rate you can imagine.



Jesus lacked for nothing during His life and ministry.  Yet He gave it all up and went to the Cross so that the curse that kept the human race in poverty could be extinguished for all those who walk in fellowship with Him.



This is where we are about to see the future unfolding before us.  We have a Covenant promise that applies to those who live in, and according to, that Covenant.  Consider the following:


Deuteronomy 28:10-14: And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.


Are you seeing it?



1.      All the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of thee…

2.      The Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground….

3.      The Lord shall open unto thee His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand…

4.      And thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow…

5.      And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath…



Once again, I remind you that these promises are made to those who live in the Covenant!



Have you ever – even in your wildest imagination – thought that you could be the lender and NOT the borrower?  Has it ever dawned in your consciousness that you could be in a position to lend to many nations?



Do you understand the significance of being “the head and not the tail?”  No?  That’s what I thought.  Being the “head” means that you are in charge of what is taking place governmentally, corporately and socially instead of being subservient to those in charge.



Well, folks, THAT is exactly what God has in store for His people!  We’ve already seen the beginning of this with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, but, buckle your seatbelts!  You’re about to see God’s people elevated to positions of authority in many, many, many places.  You are about to see a transfer of wealth to God’s people on a scale that makes the transfer of wealth from Egypt to the children of Israel pale by comparison.



I remind you of the promise that God made in Proverbs 13:22:



A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.



Again, however, I remind you that these promises are not made to Christians in general, but to those who walk in Covenant with the Lord and understand the significance of what it means to walk in that place of Covenant.



A new future for God’s people is unfolding in front of us.  If you are not walking in the Covenant, I’d suggest that you get in that place pronto!

I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call normally takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific).  Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035.  The Access Code is: 323859#.  For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400.   If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.



At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific.  That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#.  We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long.  If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.



Blessings on you!




Regner A. Capener

Sunnyside, Washington 98944

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