The star of David
There are a number of symbols which pop up a lot at Christmas. There's Angels, snowflakes, candy canes and reindeer. But one that's extremely prominent is stars. They're on top of trees, in light displays and the finishing touch on many nativity scenes.
But why do we see stars so prominently displayed at Christmas? Let's see what the bible has to say.
Since this sermon is about the Star of Bethlehem, the first thing I did was start looking through the bible for references to stars. Of course, there is the creation of the stars in Genesis. Then there are many uses of the stars as a metaphor for people. But the first thing that really caught my attention was a prophecy by Baalam in Numbers 24.
17 "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.
18 Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong.
19 A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city."
Now this might have been some personage who was to come in the more immediate future, such as Samson, Saul or David, but no prime minister, king or judge ever completely destroyed the enemies of Israel to give them a permanent and lasting peace. Only the Messiah will do this. So from even before Israel had a homeland, the Messiah was symbolized by a star.
In Daniel, the stars are used as a symbol of wisdom, and of righteousness.
Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
There are a lot of other references to stars. Most refer to their height or their glory, and a number talk about when the stars refuse to shine.
It is appropriate for Jesus to be symbolized by a star. Think about this for a moment. I have used the sun as a metaphor of God the Father. A giver of life. The source of all power. The sun maintains the Solar system simply by holding its rightful position in the center. It is glorious- far too glorious for our eyes to view directly.
A star is a sun. It is not a miniature version of the sun. It is the exact same thing. Though star varies from star in color, intensity and mass, they all have the same basic set of properties. Jesus is everything that His Father is, but He is also much more accessible. We can look at Him directly. As a scientist can study a distant star to learn more about our own sun, so we can examine Jesus' life and actions to learn more about the Father.
Stars serve as a guide. Any explorer, scout or sailor worth his salt can navigate by the stars. They provide us directions and indicate the time of night and the seasons. Jesus likewise serves as our guide, being our example for living and our great teacher.
But most of all, the symbol of the star has its most fitting application in death. When a star dies, it becomes a supernova. For one brief moment, that star shines so brightly that it outshines all other stars in the galaxy combined. The energy released by a dying star is so great that there is no word to describe it. Incredible, amazing, monstrous and unearthly are all vast understatements. It is only in the blast of a supernova that transferrous elements are created without divine intervention. Without some of these elements, such as zinc for example, life would not be possible.
So, too, in dying, Jesus reached the fullness of His glory. He changed the universe with His sacrifice. In that moment, He outshone the rest of the universe. By reconciling us to the Father, He provided what was necessary to make life possible. It is because of Jesus' death that we live.
So it is only fitting that Jesus' birth should be heralded by a star. And there is another reason this is so. The star of Bethlehem was a sign that was visible to anyone looking for it. Of course, many people did not see it, because they were not looking for it. So too is Christ visible to anyone who looks for him. The only thing hiding him from anyone is a heart that is unwilling to seek Him.
I think all of you read my comic "Oren's Monastery", right? If so, you'll know how Yakob Coon was not permitted to read Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22. This is actually a very common problem. A lot of adherents to Judaism read only what their rabbis tell them to read. Many others don't read the bible at all, but read only the commentaries of the rabbis. They are surrounded by artificial "lights", so much so that as one living in the heart of the city, they may never see the Morning Star, Jesus Messiah.
All of you here today have made a decision to seek the Messiah. The fact that you are here at all tells me that. Even if you are just reading this sermon in the archives, you are looking, and for that you are to be commended. Now if you have not accepted Jesus as your savior, I am here to help you find Him. Consider me your astronomer. For those of you who have, I have this exhortation: We are Jesus' spiritual children. We are to be like Him, and to glorify Him. Our job is to act as guide stars, acting as a reference which helps others to find our Lord. For the unsaved, this is what you need to know. For the Christian, this is what you need to proclaim...
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He shares all divine attributes and authority with God the Father, making Him in truth one and the same God with the Father. This God so loved the world that He abased Himself to be born as one of us. He was born to the virgin Mary in the stable in Bethlehem. He grew up as a man, just like us, but without sin. He preached the truth about life, about goodness and most importantly about the Father. Then at age 33, Jesus voluntarily submitted Himself to death on a cross. He did this to atone for our sins, as only He could. Only by accepting that sacrifice as our own can we be reconciled to our God. On the third day, Jesus returned to life, having conquored death. He later ascended bodily into Heaven where He now sits at God's right hand and prepares a place for everyone who will do but one simple thing, and that is pray to receive Jesus as their savior.
Today's reading: Matthew 2:1-12
2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6 "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
9 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.
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 and of incense and of myrrh.
12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.