Thought from Today’s Old Testament Passage:
Have you ever stopped to wonder where the wise men learned to look for a star? How did they associate a star with a king born over in Israel? Why would they make such a long trek?
About 1500 years after this prophecy was given, we find coming out of the east, the land of Balaam, a whole company of wise men. Apparently this prophecy of Balaam was retained, since Balaam was considered an outstanding prophet in the east, and the wise men knew his prophecy. When they saw the remarkable star, they remembered that Balaam had said, “… there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel …” (Num. 24:17). When the wise men came to Jerusalem, their question was, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him?” (Matt. 2:2). When we add to these Scriptures the prophecy of Daniel (and Daniel likewise had prophesied in the east), which gives the approximate time that the Messiah would come, we see that the coming of the wise men to Jerusalem is very understandable.
The thing that makes it very remarkable is that Israel, the people who had the Old Testament with all the prophecies of Christ’s coming, was not looking for Him—with the exception of a very small minority, such as Anna and Simeon. When this company of wise men (there were probably nearer three hundred than three!) converged on Jerusalem, the entire city, including Herod the king, was stirred. Their coming adds a thrilling dimension to the Christmas story. And it is quite interesting to trace it to this old rascal, Balaam.
(J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson), 1997 © 1981 by J. Vernon McGee)