In my last post I wrote about the book of Hezekiah. Today, I have to write about it again. If you did not read my post on the book of Hezekiah, you need to read it so that you may understand today’s post. Click here to read about the book of Hezekiah.
In my previous post, I wrote about Hezekiah 3:10-16. Today I am writing about the rest of Hezekiah chapter 3, that is, Hezekiah 3:17-21.
Hezekiah 3:17-21 deals with the Old Testament story of the three Wise Men who came to see Jesus. One of them was Gaspar, an Old Testament name that is derived from a Persian word. The name means “one who safeguards a treasure.”
The second Wise Man was Melchior, a name that comes from a Hebrew word that means “royal light.”
The third Wise Man was Balthazar, a name that comes from Assyria-Babylonia and means “May the God Baal protect you.”
If you know a little bit about the Old Testament, you also know that such information is completely false and even laughable because neither the story of the Wise Men nor their names appear in the Old Testament. Ask yourself: if the three Wise Men were Persians, why in the world would they have Hebrew names? In addition, the total number of men who came to see Jesus comes by inference since the number never appears in Scripture.
The fact is that neither the Old Testament (remember, the story is not there) nor the New Testament gives the names of the men who came to see Jesus. The story about the arrival of the three Wise Men appears in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:1-12) and not in the Old Testament.
And yet, the information about the story of the three Wise Men appearing in the Old Testament was published in MTI of Budapest. The article in MTI tells the story of the three Wise Men who came to see Jesus. The article concludes with these words:
The Old Testament names these three as the kings or wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem to the newborn Christ child.
Now you understand the reason the book of Hezekiah must be written.
I guess I should be a little bit more lenient to people who do not know the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. However, the problem of biblical illiteracy has reached a point where it is undermining the credibility of Christianity. Either the church is failing in its mission to teach people the basic elements of the faith or else church members do not take seriously their commitment to be a good disciple of Jesus Christ.
It is also possible that there is a third reason for this crisis in the life of the church. Maybe, we who teach and preach from the Bible are failing to teach the content of the Bible to our members and to our students.
Recently, I asked the first year students in my Old Testament class (all future pastors and church leaders) how many had read the whole Bible, from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse in Revelation, at least once. Out of fifty students, only five or six had read every chapter and every verse of the Bible at least once.
I believe the reason people do not know the Bible is because their preacher does not know the Bible. Hosea was right after all. Hosea said: “What the priests do, the people also do” (Hosea 4:9 NLT). The church is the mirror image of the pastor; so, what happens if pastors do not know the content of their Bible?
Perish the thought!
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary