A Tradition-ful Advent:
A Little History:
Most of us know exactly why we sees stars at Christmas time so much, it’s straight out of the Bible story of the birth of Jesus – the star that the wise men followed to Bethlehem. However, did you know that the star has much more history than that? Have you ever stopped to wonder why the wise men were following the star in the first place?
We know it was more than just curiosity. When they spoke with King Herod, they told him they were following the star to the one who would be born king of the Jews. They must have learned this someone, but no angels had appeared to them like they did to the shepherds. So how did they know?
The wise men knew about the star because it had been prophesied about. Centuries before, God had revealed a little piece of his plan through an unusual character, called Balaam. The story of Balaam can be found in Numbers 22-24 and like the Christmas story, also involved a donkey… although in Balaam’s story God actually made Balaam’s donkey speak! What’s important here though is Balaam’s prophesy. He said:
I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult. (Numbers 24:17)
In one sense, the prophecy applies to Israel itself, particularly with reference to David’s conquest of the Moabites (2 Samuel 8:2). However, the concept of the scepter, a symbol of kingship, refers not only to David, but to David’s greater son, and refers back to Genesis:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Genesis 49:10)
So the star was a sign for the people that God was going to stretch out his right arm of power. He was going to retrieve what was ruined by sin and Satan. It was a promise that he was coming to save his people. He was sending a Messiah. The people of Israel knew this promise, this prophesy. For years upon years, decades, centuries… the people of Israel had been waiting, anxiously anticipating God’s timing, but believing because they knew that God always keeps his promises. Then the star appeared, a sign that the waiting was over.
If you want to take the fulfillment of prophesy all the way through, consider:
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelations 22:16
So now how do we see the star? The star is a sign of prophesy fulfilled. When the star appeared, the waiting for the coming of the Messiah was over. However, let’s not forget that we are still waiting for our Messiah in a different way. At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth, the Messiah come to save his people. But we know that was not the end. Jesus is coming back, and we are still waiting, anxiously anticipating God’s timing for his return. He may come any day, any moment, and when he does it will be glorious! All things will be made right and we will be with him for eternity. But we must be ready, living every day, every moment with anticipation. When we see the star, it reminds us that the Messiah is coming again. And like the wise men followed the star as a “guiding light” to the Savior, we now have His Word as our “guiding light” to teach us about God and lead us to be with Him in heaven.
Verse(s) to Remember:
“And behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.” Matthew 2:9b-10
Ideas to Make it Stick:
- Tonight go outside a look at the stars, search for the brightest one
- Play flash light tag with neighbors, or go on a walk after dinner with flashlights.
- Play wise man hide and seek. Cut a star out of construction paper and hide it around the house, have the kids find it so they can “follow it”.
- Sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Please feel free to share with friends and leave comments… Do you have other connections between the tradition and the heart of the holiday? Creative ideas to make it stick? I’d love to know what you and your family do with this!