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Devotional: The Camel – 4th Tuesday in Advent

4th Tuesday in Advent

The Camel

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of
King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked,
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?

CamelWe saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star
they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over
the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On
coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed
down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with
gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go
back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12

The camel is another animal that appears on our Chrismon tree. Like the donkey,
the camel never actually appears in our Christmas story but his presence is
rightly assumed. The Magi, likely coming across the Arabian desert from Sheba
(today’s Yemen, the “heel of the boot” of Arabia), would have undoubtedly
traveled on “the ships of the desert,” as camels were called. This whole story of
the Magi would have brought to mind some Old Testament passages that
pointed ahead to the coming of Messiah. When Solomon, the original “son of
David,” was king, the Queen of Sheba visited him “with camels carrying
spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones” (1 Kings 10:1-2). It was
believed that when the ultimate “Son of David” took the throne, a similar event
would occur. This was borne out by another prophecy:

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense
and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.
Isaiah 60:3, 6

When the Magi showed up, their camels carrying both them and their gifts, it
was another fulfillment of prophecy surrounding Jesus’ birth. The gifts that the
Magi brought were appropriately fit for a newborn king. Gold was an appropriate
gift for any king. Frankincense and myrrh, which was actually produced
(and usually imported from) the very area the Magi lived, were ingredients
mixed with olive oil and used to anoint the new king at his coronation. So the
camels appear in our Christmas story as the bearers of gifts truly fit for the newborn
king!

Prayer: Jesus, we worship you this Christmas by also offering our gifts, our
very selves, to be used by you as our eternal king. Amen.