I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth. Numbers 24:17
Sometime before the birth of Christ, a bright new star burst forth shining its light on a world darkened by sin. Perhaps most didn’t notice it; after all there are so many stars in the night sky who would notice the addition of one more dot of light in the heavens? Yet, there were some who did. Magi from the East, men who were star gazers, astronomers, wise men, they noticed this new and brilliant star. Something told them it was important. A feeling came over them that they should follow its light and see what revelation it might bring to bear. Who knows? Perhaps it could be the sign that God’s Christ is to come to earth.
Long ago God spoke through the prophets. The prophecy of the Messiah came to God’s people in many and various ways. Balaam bore witness to God’s promise to send his anointed; the star from Jacob shall come and defeat the powers that hold God’s people captive to sin and defy His will for the world. Darkness would no longer engulf those whose sins are forgiven and the people walking in darkness will be children of the light.
Today, we call this star the Star of Bethlehem. It is the subject of children’s Christmas pageants and Sunday school lessons. It is also a central part of a hymn that has become a fixture in liturgical churches, a hymn about wise men and the revelation of Jesus’ coming into the world. The star is a beacon of hope and a symbol of the eternal reign of Jesus as Lord. Have you noticed it?
The signs of God’s gracious love are all around. Even now, as Christmas is just days away the signs and symbols of Jesus’ coming are all around. In the lawns of churches and homes we may see a crèche complete with shepherds, sheep and angles keeping watch as Mary and Joseph welcome their child. Church bells ring in praise of God’s glory, candles glow with the warmth and light of God’s favor. Trees are decorated with symbols and Christ monograms telling us of God’s most precious gift. And somewhere deep within the night sky, a star burns brightly. Can you see it?
O Star of wonder, star of night;
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light.