…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Why gold, frankincense and myrrh gifts from the wise men?

Was thinking about the gifts of the wise men.
Like to suggest some practical reasons, and possible Biblical symbolism about the gifts brought by the magi, wise men at the birth of Jesus.

At Jesus birth, Magi, wise men from the east came to Bethlehem, miraculously led by a moving star to the exact house in the town,

1After 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? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

… the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

11 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.
Matthew 2:1,2, 9-11 (NIV)



“We saw his star when it rose
and have come to worship him.”

The wise men came joyfully … with a heart of worship,
… seeking for the Messiah, Jesus.

The wise men’s gifts inspires us to give of our best to the Lord;  gold, frankincense and myrrh were valuable items,
the most precious of metals, radiant pure gold,
and fragrant frankincense and myrrh.

they bowed down … worshiped him …  they opened their treasures

Notice the order:

submission to God,
heart of worship,
gifts and sacrifices.

Else, its a show, as Jesus pointed out:

Matthew 15:8 (NIV)
These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.

Give to express … not to impress.

Giving and worship begins with a heart in the right place.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21 (NIV)



Continuing with Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth,

Matthew 2:13-15 (NIV)
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.“Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When the wise men had gone … an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream to immediately take the family to Egypt.   During the night, they obeyed and immediately left for Egypt … until the death of Herod.

With the impending threat of persecution, the angel directed Joseph’s family to take refuge in Egypt.

In a time without ATMs, credit cards, internet banking, remittance services, etc
… the gifts given by the wise men supported Joseph’s family during their time in Egypt.

The Lord saw the future … directed Joseph what to do in a dream through an angel.
The Lord also supplied their needs
from total strangers from the East,
who travelled a long distance,
who somehow found their home,
led by a star.

From the time of conception to their flight to Egypt, both Joseph and Mary stepped out in faith and obeyed the Lord … from Nazareth … to Bethlehem … onto Egypt.
Faith to physically travel to Bethlehem with a near full-term baby,
and leave everything behind in Nazareth and Israel with a child (in the night),
without knowing if or when they will return
…  led by a dream.

Mary & Joseph obeyed, …
the Lord faithfully saw them through
one step at a time.

God’s Word was sent,
He gave them His plan,
&  His faithful provision Hand.

Similarly, when the Israelites led by Moses left Egypt on their journey,
God provided for them too.

Exodus 12:35,36 (NIV)_
35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. 36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Overnight, from slaves with little … to a nation with the riches of Egypt,
which later were used to build the tabernacle.



For Joseph’s family, the 3 items gold, frankincense and myrrh had to be highly valuable and useful for financial transactions.  They also had to be small and portable  for a travelling family with a child,
i.e. a small amount of each item must worth a lot.

For the wise men, besides being valuable the 3 gifts had to survive the long trip they took from the East to Jerusalem without deterioration or tarnish;
i.e. as fresh as the day they left their homes. 

On a side note, while reading the Christmas story in Matthew 1, 2,
couldn’t help noticing that God spoke to Joseph in 4 dreams giving him clear, straightforward directions.  As for the return journey of the wise men, they also were directed by the Lord in a dream.



In the marketplace/industry, an excerpt from notes in Wikipedia,

Gold has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewelry, and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history.
Gold is the most malleable of all metals.  Gold can be beaten thin enough to become transparent.
After initial production, gold is often subsequently refined industrially …

Frankincense is used in perfumery and aromatherapy.
Frankincense  is tapped from the scraggy but hardy trees by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resin to bleed out and harden.  These hardened resins are called tears.

Myrrh has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine.
When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum.
Myrrh was used by the ancient Egyptians, along with natron, for the embalming of mummies.


Usage in the Bible
Gold, frankincense and myrrh were used in the tabernacle in the Old Covenant,
(btw, these came from the Egyptians,  Exodus 12:35,36 )

Gold adorned the articles in the tabernacle of God in the Old Covenant, symbolising purity (refined), divinity, divine nature, glory of God.

Hebrews 9:1-5, 15, 24 (NIV)
Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.
Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.
23 “Make a table of acacia wood—two cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high. 24 Overlay it with pure gold

15  … Christ is the mediator of a new covenant ..

24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.

Make a lampstand of pure gold …
Exodus 25:31 (NIV)

23 “Make a table of acacia wood … 24 Overlay it with pure gold …
Exodus 25:23 (NIV)

And make two cherubim out of hammered gold
Exodus 25:18 (NIV)

Hebrews 8:5 (NIV)
They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven …

The tabernacle in the Old Covenant, was an earthly copy and shadow of the glorious one in heaven that Jesus entered with His own blood to make atonement for our sins, once and for all.

Pure Frankincense was a key ingredient in the incense in the tabernacle.

Exodus 30:34-36
34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, 35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. 36 Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.

Myrrh was a key ingredient in the anointing oil in the tabernacle, and was also used to anoint, consecrate priests, kings, and prophets.

Exodus 30:22-28 (NIV)
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, 27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense,28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand.

Leviticus 8:12 (NIV)
Moses poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him.

In Song of Solomon the beloved and the lover exude with myrrh fragrant perfume.

Jesus body was embalmed with myrrh for burial.

John 19:38 (NIV)
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.


Symbolism in the Bible for these 3 items

Gold – there’s a number of symbolism for gold, some of them are
purity, divine nature, king authority

Zechariah 6:11 (NIV)
Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jozadak.

(previous verses in Hebrews and Exodus describing the gold articles in the tabernacle)

Jesus :
Fullness of God, divine nature,
all authority, a King,
without sin, pure

Colossians 1:19
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him

Matthew 28:18
 Then Jesus came to them and said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

The testing and refining of gold is also used as a metaphor for the tested and pure word of God, and our faith.

Psalm 12:6
And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.

1 Peter 1:7 (ESV)
so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Job 23:10 (NIV)
But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold

Frankincense – prayer, worship, intercesion

Psalm 141:2 (NIV)
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Revelation 8:3,4 (NIV)
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand

Jesus :
Our living High priest, intercessor at the right hand of God.

Romans 8:32 (NIV)
… Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Myrrh – anointing of the Holy Spirit

Leviticus 8:12 (NIV)
Moses poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him.

1 Samuel 16:13 (NIV)
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

(ministry of prophets Moses and Samuel)

God’s Anointed, Christ, Messiah,
anointed with the Holy Spirit without limit,
our Healer/Deliverer, who anoints/baptises us with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:38 (NIV)
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

John 3:34 (NIV)
For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

Mark 6:13 (NIV)
They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil
and healed them.

Luke 10:34 (NIV), the good Samaritan ministered to the man
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine … 

Mark 1:8 (NIV)
… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit


From the preceding sharing, perhaps we may infer the following:

Come to Him,

Worship the Lord (frankincense)

in Spirit (myrrh)

in Truth (gold)

by faith (gold)


Fullness of God, divinity, all authority, a King, without sin, pure (gold)

Our living high Priest, intercessor at the right hand of God (frankincense)

God’s anointed, Christ, Messiah, anointed with the Holy Spirit without limit,
our Healer/Deliverer, who anoints/baptises us with the Holy Spirit (myrrh)

Jesus ministry

King (gold)

Priest (frankincense)

Prophet (myrrh)

The suffering Christ, Messiah, Savior:

Gold is carefully refined, and hammered as an overlay.

Frankincense is tapped from trees, and the exuded resin is bled out and hardened (tears).
For use as incense, the frankincense is ground into powder.
Incense is burnt with fire to release its fragrance.

Myrrh is harvested by wounding the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum.
The myrrh is ground and distilled into a liquid oil form.
Jesus body was embalmed with myrrh for burial.

Our Living Lord and Christ, Jesus

King of kings, Lord of Lord, He has all authority,
He entered the glorious tabernacle in heaven with His own blood to make atonement for our sins, once and for all. (gold)

Our Intercessor (frankincense)

Our Healer/Deliverer, Jesus anoints/baptises us with the Holy Spirit (Myrrh)

Praise God for God’s priceless gift — Jesus!

Let’s go, joyfully bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh
in worship and service.

2 Peter 1:4(NASB)
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises,
so that by them you may become
partakers of the divine nature, …

2 Corinthians 2:14,15 (NASB)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;


Christmas | Worship/Praise

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
September 12, 2015

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License




This entry was posted on September 12, 2015 by in Daily Rice, Ministry, Serving Quietly, Worship/Praise and tagged .

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