Updated: Jul 4, 2018
As a child, my favourite time of the year was Christmas. Whether it was the joy of being on holidays, the anticipation of giving and receiving gifts, the romance of carols by candlelight, of the thrill of the Boxing Day test at the MCG, Christmas was wonderful – a little bit of heaven on earth.
Speaking of Christmas carols, one of my favourite tunes was “We three kings of Orient are”. I knew every word of that carol off by heart, as well as a colourful variation that does not bear repeating in this email. Like most people, I grew up with the notion that there were three kings who travelled from the east, bearing gifts for the newborn King. However, the Bible doesn’t tell us that there were three of them; in fact, it doesn’t indicate how many were in the entourage. Nor does it say that they were kings; however, it is fair to conclude that they were men of nobility and no small means, judging by the value of the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh which they presented to the infant Saviour.
What we do know is that these men were Magoi – astrologers from the east – who had observed a strange phenomenon in the heavens and had somehow interpreted it as a sign of the birth of a Great King. Magi were well known in the ancient East as purveyors of magic, interpreters of dreams and visions, astrologers, and prophets.
In his fascinating book ‘The Witness of the Stars’, E. W. Bullinger postulates that the Star of Bethlehem most probably appeared in the constellation of Coma (the sign of the woman and the child) within the sign Virgo (the virgin). Bullinger goes on to state:
There was a traditional prophecy, well-known in the East, carefully preserved and handed down, that a new star would appear in this sign when he whom it foretold should be born. This was, doubtless, referred to in the prophecy of Balaam, which would thus receive a double fulfilment, first of the literal ‘Star’, and also of the person to whom it referred. The Lord said by Balaam, “There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel” (Num. 24:17).
Moreover, Bullinger quotes Thomas Hyde, an eminent Orientalist (1636-1703), who, in his dissertation on the ancient religion of the Persians, cited Abulfaragius (an Arab Christian historian, 1226-1286), who declared that Zoroaster the Persian was a pupil of Daniel the prophet, and that he had predicted to the Magians (the astronomers of Persia) that when they should see a new star appear it would signal the birth of a mysterious child, whom they were to adore.
Whatever the case, the Bible says that the star which the Magoi had seen in the East “went before them till it came and stood over where the young Child was” (Matt. 2:9). I used to have the idea that the star was some kind of heavenly laser beam that moved through the night sky, leading the wise men to their date with destiny in Bethlehem. However, I finally realized that it wasn’t so much the star that moved, but rather, the Magoi who travelled hundreds of miles over a two year period until they stood ‘directly under the star’, that is, its zenith, which of course happened to be Bethlehem!
According to Biblical cosmology, Christ is the sustainer and the uniting principle of the universe (Eph. 1:10). The apostle Paul said that “in and through him the universe is one harmonious whole” (Col. 1:17 Weymouth). Nothing in God’s universe is random or haphazard; everything follows a prescribed course, a predetermined path – including the movement of stars.
The point being, that the wise men had to track the star; night after night they had to modify their position in order to conform to its unswerving orbit. The star didn’t follow them; they had to follow the star and adjust their lives accordingly. A simple but highly significant distinction!
What is your star?
In the Christmas story, the star of Bethlehem was a prophetic sign of the birth of a Great King … a signal to the initiated that the fullness of time had come and that God had sent forth his Son to be the Saviour of the world. Thus, the star represented a prophetic vision and an eternal purpose.
Similarly, your ‘star of Bethlehem’ represents God’s will and purpose for your life. It is a vision of your calling and destiny in Christ – the life you are meant to live and the person you are supposed to be.
And like the star, God’s will and purpose requires a repositioning of yourself each day, both in the way you think and in the way you act. In his letter to the believers at Rome, the apostle Paul spoke of the need to renew our minds in order that we may understand and experience God’s will in our lives (Rom. 12:2). The Amplified Bible speaks of the renewal of the mind in terms of ‘new ideals and new attitudes’.
Paul also spoke about forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, and pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14). Or, to put it another way: daily adjusting his position in order to conform to the will and purpose of God for his life.
We need to think clearer and bigger when it comes to the kind of people we are called to be and the kind of work we are called to do. Moreover, we need to ask ourselves each day, “What can I do, right here, right now, that will move me closer to the star of my destiny?”
The heavens are declaring
The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2). I want to tell you today, by the Spirit of the Lord, that the heavens over your life are not empty – they are pregnant with divine purpose and destiny!
God’s purpose is calling you onward and upward. His word is inscribed in the spirit realm over your life. His voice resounds: “You are mine,” says the Lord, “and you will be counted amongst my special treasure in the last days.”
Indeed, the star is beckoning you; what are you going to do?