Saturday I started the 12 Days of Christmas post series based on a book called The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle. You can read the introduction about it and Days 1 and 2 here.
"On the third day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...three French hens..."
Like the two turtledoves, the three french hens have more than one symbolism attached to them. Some view them as the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Others believe it was a reference to faith, hope and charity (love). Fine gifts, indeed.
Still others, including Helen Haidle, refer to the value of the poultry during that time as being something only the rich could afford. As a gift, three french hens would be considered perhaps as valuable as the three gifts mentioned in the Bible that were brought from afar for the new King: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Gold has one main practical and rather obvious use for new parents of a King...as a monetary contribution.
Frankincense comes from root words meaning "true" (frank) and "incense."
It was used for many practical household reasons: strengthen teeth and gums by chewing it; digestion system; topical wounds (it fights infection, it's an antiseptic and has anti-inflammatory properties). The spectrum of its uses is so wide, it is said it can be used for everything from a cold to cancer!
In addition to its many practical uses, it was more importantly used as an incense in the Temple and for burning grain offerings to the Lord (see Ex. 30:34) and (see Lev. 2:1-2, 15). Keeping in mind that the sacrifices made were a tangible way to worship the Lord in obedience, it seems suitable for the King of kings to be given probably the most costly ingredient in this gift to the Lord.
Myrrh has a bitter taste, so its name comes from a Hebrew word meaning "bitter." It has many of the same practical uses as Frankincense, including its presence in the holy anointing oil (see Ex. 30:23). There is one thing in addition that I have found: It was also used by the ancients in their burial preparations.
Could this be a bit of foreshadowing?
I'm not suggesting that the wise men who brought these gifts knew what they were doing, but the God of Heaven and earth certainly knew what was to come. Down to the "nth" degree.
Here's the part that convinced me. In reading up on the Biblical references to myrrh, I found one other reference that says to me this was no coincidence.
In Mark chapter 15, we see Jesus on the dusty road leading Him to the Cross. When we get to verse 23, it says,
"Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it ."
It was customary during that time for wine mixed with myrrh to be offered to one who had been condemned to death by crucifixion as a way to numb the pain.
So the wise men brought gifts that were reflected in both the worship of Him as God and the death and burial of Him as Savior. I'll bet they had no idea of the deep significance in the gifts they bore.
Nor did they understand its intrinsic value.
Join me tomorrow for a look at the 4th Day of Christmas.