Merry Christmas! Today we celebrate a birthday in Bethlehem during the reign of King Herod. According to Matthew 2:1, some wise men from eastern lands arrived asking about the newborn king. They had seen his star and came to worship him. King Herod and everyone in Jerusalem was “deeply disturbed” (NLT) to hear this. The king first called a meeting with the leading priests and teachers of religious law, and then with the wise men to learn when the star first appeared. He ended up killing every boy under the age of two, to thwart the reign of Jesus.
What made the wise men wise? It is by Herod’s and all of Jerusalem’s ignorance that we understand their wisdom. The wise men were wise because they could see things that other people could not. In this case, they spotted a flying star that appeared in the eastern sky, and knew enough to follow it. For whatever reason, nobody else was able to do this. I also think it’s noteworthy that these wise men came from the East, likely along the ancient incense road which began in Dhofar (Oman), through present-day Yemen over the west coast of Arabia, and ended in Gaza and Damascus.
Matthew 2:9-10 says the star moved ahead of them and stopped over the place where Jesus was located, like a flying saucer would. Filled with joy, the wise men entered, bowed down, and worshiped the baby boy. They opened treasure chests from which they gave him three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What would you give a baby king? A pair of Nike sneakers? A cashmere sweater? A Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle? Luxury pajamas? If the wise men were wise enough to follow a star to a king, then I assume they were also wise in choosing their gifts.
Call me quirky, but decoding the Bible is fun for me. To understand the three gifts, we must have a sense of how people thought and behaved around the time Jesus was born. Our nation and most Western leaders are like Herod was back then. They are glaringly unwise and uncouth, but they cannot stop the wise men from the east or the savior. While we are constantly sending dollars to foreign lands, on credit, Santa and his reindeer are flying through a dense mental fog that’s lingering over the world. And the mainstream media controls the spotlight, through its antagonistic viewpoints:
New York Times: ‘God Is Under the Rubble in Gaza’: Bethlehem’s Subdued Christmas
The Jerusalem Post: Antisemitism’s wake-up call, we must keep God’s land – opinion
War in the Middle East has made this Christmas different than any other I can remember. And the present day is strikingly similar to the period when Jesus was born. King Herod was in power, and he is best known for his building things (fortresses, aqueducts, theatres, and other public buildings) to raise the prosperity of his land. It was a period of unprecedented growth and construction like we just had over the last 150 years. Herod is known for being a wicked Roman tyrant who had domination over the Jewish people. Jesus was the King of the Jews, which is why Herod wanted him dead.
While the Jews were monotheistic, the Romans were a polytheistic civilization that evolved from ancient Greece. Their main god and goddesses were Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, and this shaped their culture. Like the Roman empire worshipped Jupiter, the American empire worships the same deity that protects the state, through its gigantic military and constant waring. Juno (Jupiter’s sister and wife) supports her militant husband while guiding the health and fertility of Democracy. Minerva, the wisest deity, is behind the art of war, propaganda, trade, commerce, etc. She directs the CIA and its intelligence operations.
This brings me to the first gift for baby Jesus. Gold has been money for more 5000 years. It is mentioned 438 times in 34 books of the Old Testament and nine books in the New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation. If you are a Jew or Christian and you don’t understand the importance of gold to God in the Bible, you might want to take a closer look. In Judaism, God loves gold! In Roman religion, the gods love gold! Today’s goddess Minerva has tricked people into believing the dollar (credit) is money. While the world reserve currency is the dollar, “currency” was invented as an IOU for gold. Watch the cute short film John Law and the Mississippi Bubble to see how it works.
If you believe what the Bible says, that Jesus is risen and returning, you might believe that gold is coming back too. I sure do. The Roman empire, and all its trickery to stay in power, is on its way out. It’s been slowly declining, but has picked up speed in recent years. Under the surface of a giant financial mirage, an epic pyramid scheme, the world is facing some real challenges. Inflation is a fancy word for the devaluation of currency, namely, the debt-backed dollar. Fiat seems to always destroy people’s wealth stored in government and bank liabilities, but they never learn. Minerva is very clever, but her jig is coming to its end as people once again wake up to the reality of too much debt in global trade.
Frankincense, the second gift, is a fragrant sticky resin from the Boswellia tree. This tree grows on the Arabian Peninsula, among rocks and sand where rainy mountains meet the dry desert. Most frankincense comes from about five species of Boswellia trees, found in North Africa, India, Oman, Yemen, and West Africa. Unlike sap, which circulates through a plant, resins are produced and secreted on the surface or within certain tissues. Composed of volatile chemicals, resins play an important role in how plants interact with their environment.
The ancient Egyptians and Romans loved frankincense. They used it in mummification, as a perfume, and to burn as incense. It’s edible too, and was sought after by ancients to treat digestive problems and boost the immune system. With high demand and high cost along the incense route, frankincense was a pleasure experienced mostly by royalty and wealth in ancient Rome, thought to connect elite nose-worthy humans with the gods. Today, frankincense is touted for its ability to treat blood stagnation, inflammatory diseases, pain, and swelling. It’s great for the skin too.
A study done by nine doctors in China revealed frankincense and myrrh may even help in the treatment of cancer and wounds, which brings me to the last gift. Myrrh is a fragrant, yellow, sticky resin that comes from the bark of certain Commiphora trees. While it contains chemicals that might reduce pain and kill bacteria, it was also used in embalming and mummification, like frankincense. In the Bible it was used as a holy anointing oil for consecrating priests, the tabernacle, and kings (see Exodus 30:23–25), as well as for the purification of Queen Esther (see Esther 2:12).
Incense was an important part of old uncommercialized Christmas celebrations. Our olfactory system syncs with our spiritual selves—evoking feelings, expressions, and inspirations. I wish that I could record the smell of frankincense and myrrh, but like gold, smells cannot be uploaded to the worldwide web. Unlike frankincense and myrrh, gold has no odor, but holding a gold coin in your hand feels just as good. Here’s a little secret; if you’re shopping for gold and you smell sulfur on it, run for the hills because it’s probably fool’s gold. A digital coin that uses a gold-coin logo is fool’s gold too.
It is my mission to connect ideas in a way that helps people think outside their many boxes. I tried to figure out the significance of the three gifts today, but the wise men’s reason and rationale is higher than my mind can go. Thank you for reading my Christmas musings of 2023, and thank you for reading my work in general. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re in for a real treat. Voila, the oldest Christmas carol in the world: Jesus Refulsit Omnium, meaning “Jesus, Light of All the Nations.” And me singing Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt. Don’t laugh, please. 🙂 Merry Christmas and rejoice!