A few years ago, whilst joining with a few believers at an informal Christian meeting, as an elderly man spoke about the wise men bringing to Jesus, gold, frankincense & myrrh, the Lord suddenly and unexpectedly put into my heart the following meaning of these three things.
The gold signifies a person’s faith that is tried and tested and purified as gold.
The frankincense, which is a perfume or fragrance, signifies the prayers of the saints rising pleasingly before the throne of God.
The myrrh, also a perfume, but one used biblically during preparation for burial upon death. This signifies our process of dying to the flesh life and this world’s ways so that Christ can be formed in us to a greater measure.
I was overawed at this understanding of the “wise men’s” gifts to the infant Jesus as I understood that the Lord Jesus is still wanting such blessed gifts to His eternal glory from His followers today.
The Wise Men & These Gifts
From Matthew’s gospel, we find the familiar narrative in question is as follows.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men (mages) from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.
…and behold, the star which they had seen 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 exceedingly great joy. And when they had 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 gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-2 & 9-11
Their treasures were presented as part of their worship to the one they rightly perceived to be a king.
So, these three gifts had a spiritual meaning about Jesus Christ:
- gold – a symbol of kingship on earth, of His shining sinless perfection;
- frankincense (an incense) – a symbol of priesthood & deity;
- myrrh (a fragrant embalming oil) – a symbol of suffering & death.
As Jesus Christ is the King of kings, gold is obviously most fittingly appropriate.
Spiritual Meaning for His Followers
Both Peter and Job tell us that although gold is one of the world’s most precious metals, our faith, when it has been purified and tested, is even more precious to the Lord than gold is in this world.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9
Also in Job we find:
“But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job 23:10-12
And yet we must note that it is the tested and purified faith that is so exceedingly precious. Like gold, we begin as raw ore that has many impurities within it but then gold goes through a crushing, washing and intense fiery heat to burn up the dross. Likewise, as we submit to the trials that the Lord allows in our lives, then the tendency to sin, the love of the world and the desires of our flesh will be brought to the surface in order that they may be confessed, destroyed and removed from our lives entirely, if we submit humbly and prayerfully to the process.
Peter reminds us that this fire is a normal part of the Christian life.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
We can also take heed from the warning to the Laodicean church, that a refined gold obtained Christ’s way, and not the world’s way is vital to please Him.
“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Revelation 3:18
I also remembered that Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, had to physically be thrown into an intense fiery furnace for their faith in God, where the Lord was with them in the heat. And the Lord promises to likewise be with us always, to the very end of the age, regardless of the tests and trials that we each have to face.
My question therefore is will you humbly submit to this process? Will you work with the Lord, who desires the dross to be burned up so that your faith can shine forth as purified gold? Such lives are surely precious gifts in His sight.
Ultimately, we will all have our lives laid bare before Him who judges all things, and then the gold versus the dross will be revealed. So now let us commit ourselves to this process whilst there is still time to shine purer and brighter for His glory.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:11-17
Will you perhaps pray today; “Please Lord reveal to me the dross of my life, the worldliness, the love of my flesh and my selfishness, and all the things that You, O Lord, want to remove from my heart and life, in order that my faith may be strengthened and purified, as gold”?
“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me;
Try my mind and my heart.” Psalm 26:2
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