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Summary: FIRST SERMON FOR ADVENT 2018. IT LOOKS AT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR AND THE SCEPTER.

CHRISTMAS STAR AND SCEPTER

NUMBERS 24:12-19

TODAY WE BEGIN THE SEASON OF ADVENT AND IN THIS PASSAGE I WANT TO LOOK AT TWO SYMBOLS THAT ARE RELATED TO THE COMING KING. VERSE 17 SPEAKS ABOUT THE STAR AND THE SCEPTER.

A SCEPTER IS A SIGN OF ROYALTY. IT IS THE POSSESSION OF SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY. AS PART OF HER CORONATION QUEEN ELIZABETH WAS PRESENTED A SCEPTER. THE SERGEANT AT ARMS OF THE PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE AND THE FEDERAL HOUSE OF COMMONS CARRIES A LARGE ORNAMENT INTO THE CHAMBER AND PLACES IT PROMINENTLY ON A TABLE TO BEGIN THE SESSION. MARCHING BAND LEADERS CARRY AN ELABORATE STAFF WITH THEM THAT THEY USE TO DIRECT THE BAND.

THE SCEPTER THEN IS A SIGN OF AUTHORITY OR ROYALTY. HERE IN VERSE 17 A RULER IS PROPHECIED TO RISE UP OUT OF ISRAEL, AND A STAR FROM THE LINE OF JACOB AND BOTH WOULD BE FULFILLED IN THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.

WE ARE GOING TO SPEND MOST OF OUR TIME FOCUSING ON THE STAR. THE STAR IS AN IMPORTANT SYMBOL OF CHRISTMAS OFTEN USED ON CHRISTMAS TREES. I FOUND SOME INFORMATION ON THE MOST POPULAR AND SOME PECULIAR CHRISTMAS TREE TOPPERS THAT YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING.

SOME POPULAR TREE TOPPERS WERE: SNOWMEN

GINGER BREAD MEN

SPHERES THAT LOOKED LIKE

STEEPLES ON RUSSIAN

CHURCH BUILDINGS

A PEACE SIGN

SOME UNUSUAL TOPPERS: ELVIS PRESLEY (BLUE CHRISTMAS)

THE GRINCH

TINKERBELL

GLENDA (THE GOOD WITCH FROM

WIZARD OF OZ)

YODA (FROM STAR WARS)

THE MOST POPULAR THOUGH WERE: ANGELS

STARS

THE TRADITION OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE WAS INTRODUCED BY MARTIN LUTHER. HE PUT CANDLES ON THE TREE FOR HIS CHILDREN TO GIVE THE IMPRESSION OF THE STARS IN THE SKY WHEN JESUS WAS BORN.

BUT WHAT ACTUALLY DID THE WISE MEN SEE THAT MADE THEM DETERMINED IN THEIR MINDS AND HEARTS TO FOLLOW IT?

I’M REMINDED OF A STORY OF A FAMILY DRIVING TO A NEARBY TOWN FOR A CHRISTMAS SEASON GET-TOGETHER. AS THEY PASSED THE ANGLICAN CHURCH THERE WAS A MANGER SCENE IN THE YARD AND THE YOUNGEST BOY ASKED HIS MOTHER WHAT IT WAS.

SHE EXPLAINED THE NATIVITY SCENE, POINTING OUT THE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS. “THAT IS MARY AND JOSEPH...AND THE BABY JESUS, THERE IN THE MANGER.”

A FEW BLOCKS FURTHER THEY PASSED THE METHODIST CHURCH, WHERE THERE WAS A SCENE DEPICTING THE JOURNEY OF THE WISE MEN. “WHO ARE THEY?” THE LITTLE BOY ASKED.

HIS MOTHER REPLIED, “THOSE ARE THE WISE MEN, WHO ARE LOOKING FOR THE BABY JESUS.”

“WELL, THEY’RE NOT ALL THAT WISE.” THE YOUNG BOY REPLIED, “THEY WON’T FIND HIM THERE. HE’S DOWN THE STREET AT THE OTHER CHURCH.”

WE ARE NOT SURE WHAT THE STAR WAS, BUT I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU AN IDEA TODAY THAT MOST PEOPLE PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE THOUGHT OF. FIRST LET’S DISLODGE SOME OLDER THEORIES.

1. A METEOR: THE PROBLEM WITH THIS IS THAT A METEOR WOULD HAVE BURNED OUT LONG BEFORE THE MAGI ARRIVED.

2. A COMET: COMETS GENERALLY INSPIRED FEAR, NOT HOPE, CERTAINLY NOT WORSHIP. HAD THIS BEEN A COMET IT WOULD HAVE DRIVEN THE WISE MEN AWAY.

3. A SUPER NOVA (AN EXPLODING STAR): A SUPERNOVA WOULD NOT HAVE LASTED LONG ENOUGH FOR THE MAGI TO HAVE MADE THE TRIP, AND THERE IS NO RECORD OF A SUPER NOVA OCCURING AT THIS TIME.

4. A THEORY THAT BEARS MUCH WEIGHT IS THAT THIS STAR WAS THE RESULT OF THE LINE UP OF 3 PLANETS, SATURN, JUPITER AND MARS. IT HAPPENS ABOUT EVERY 1000 YEARS AND WOULD HAVE LIKELY HAPPENED AROUND THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.

THIS IS A VERY PROMISING THEORY. JUPITER IS KNOWN AS “THE STAR OF DAVID” OE “THE STAR OF THE MESSIAH”. THIS ALIGNMENT WOULD HAVE ALSO OCCURRED WHEN ISRAEL’S FIRST DELIVERER MOSES WAS BORN. IT COULD ALSO BE SEEN IN THE CONSTELLATION OF LEO THE LION. THIS IS SIGNIFICANT BECAUSE THE MESSIAH WOULD ALSO BE KNOWN AS “THE LION OF JUDAH.”

WITH THESE MANY THEORIES IT WOULD BE QUITE EASY TO TAKE OUR EYES OF THE PRIZE. THE MIRACULOUS REALITY OF ALL THESE THEORIES IS THAT GOD WOULD SUSPEND THE NATURAL ORDER AND ALLOW FOR A MIRACLE TO OCCUR.

THOUGH THERE ARE MANY THEORIES ONE OF THE BEST EXPLANATIONS, AND THE ONE THAT I HOLD TO, WAS OFFERED BY 2 RESPECTED SCHOLARS ALFRED EDERSHEIM AND DWIGHT PENTECOST.

THEY SUGGEST THAT THE GREEK WORD TRANSLATED “STAR” REALLY MEANS “RADIANCE” MUCH LIKE THE WORDS OF EZEKIEL 11:23:

EZEKIEL 11:23: THE GLORY OF THE LORD WENT UP FROM WITHIN THE CITY AND STOPPED ABOVE THE MOUNTAIN EAST OF IT

THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK ABOUT THE OUTSTANDING GLORY OF THE LORD, AT THE TRANSFIGURATION

MATTHEW 17:5: WHILE HE WAS STILL SPEAKING, A BRIGHT CLOUD COVERED THEM, AND A VOICE FROM THE CLOUD SAID, “THIS IS MY SON, WHOM I LOVE; WITH HIM I AM WELL PLEASED. LISTEN TO HIM!”

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