Summary: Using the Star of Bethlehem as a backdrop, the importance of being ready for Jesus' second coming is taught.
Follow The Light!
CCCAG December 24th, 2017
How many people here dread the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve?
Before I moved up here, I used to be one of them. The quintessential scrooge that would be the one to say “Ba Humbug”. It got busier at work with crabbier patients. There are always extra things going on at church that required more time. Numerous Christmas parties to attend, most of which involved my coworkers being drunk and silly.
And let’s not even talk about trying to shop ANYwhere- in the cities Christmas shopping is a contact sport…sometimes to the death if you go to one of the big shopping days like Black Friday.
I was just glad when it was all over.
However, after moving up here, I have learned to love this time of year. More times of fellowship, people are friendlier. I like the build up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Celebrating the holiday with people in Coulee Country is something I look forward to.
The other day, we drove down to La Crosse for the Rotary lights. We went last year as well, and I thought I knew the exact route to take so I didn’t bother glancing at a map to check for the exact street to turn on to find the entrance. That caused a few wrong turns, and about 10 min of backtracking to get to the entrance of the park. I kept looking through the buildings trying to see where all the light was coming from so I could find my way there.
Part of the Christmas story involves some people following the light to get to where they needed to go.
About 400 years before the birth of Jesus, The Old Testament prophet Daniel became famous in the Babylonian Empire. This vast empire was located in what is today Iraq and Iran when it switched to the Medo-Persian Empire. Daniel was considered to be the wisest of the wise men during his time, and most likely had a hand in training all of the wise men who came after him.
They were also trained in the sciences, health, military strategty, and astronomy.
Another part of that training would have been to read the wisdom of all of the cultures that the empire had asbord through conquest over the years, and in particular to our subject this morning this would have included what we call the Old Testament. Of particular interest to them would have been to evaluate any threat to the empire, so the scriptures concerning the great king who would be born one day in Israel would have stood out to them. Through these studies, under the tutelage of Daniel, they learned the birth of this great King would be announced by the appearance of some type of astronomical phenomena, which the bible refers to as the STAR. That star would provide the light and direction needed for them to find this King and pay him homage.
We are going to look at two scriptures this morning- the first is the prophecy given by a pagan prophet named Balaam who was called by a pagan king to curse Israel as it was coming toward the promised land after the Exodus from Egypt. God had other plans and he came under the influence of the Holy Spirit and then spoke of a future king coming out of Israel- before they even became a nation.
This is called the Star Prophecy, and is found in
Scripture Text 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.
That was the prophecy, taught to them by Daniel, that drove the wise men to travel for almost 2 years to find the child Jesus in Bethlehem.
Balaam, who was not even a believer, saw as through a mirror darkly the glory of the Advent, but the wise men were about to see it face to face.
And that is where we pick up the story in Matthew.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea,z during the time of King Herod,a Magia from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?b We saw his starc when it rose 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 Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehemd in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,