Bethlehem's Banner - The Stars Song

Bible Book: Matthew  2 : 1-12
Subject: Star of Christmas; Christmas Star; Bethlehem; Christmas; Jesus, Birth of
Series: Bethlehem Songs

When God created the world he just stepped out of eternity and spoke everything into existence. If we look at the next significant event in the history of mankind we will see that when it was time for it to begin raining God just spoke and the flood was heralded upon the earth.

Upon beginning the nation of Israel God chose him a man and woman that were well passed the time of bearing children, but when he so desired God spoke and the family birthed a child at the chosen time. At the chosen time to lead the children of Israel out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage, God spoke and sent a man to lead Israel to the Promised Land.

Israel desired them a king so they could be like every other nation, so they chose Saul to be that king. In the coming days Saul disgraced the throne and God spoke up that he would now chose their king and it would be that red headed shepherd boy tending the sheep out in the fields of Bethlehem. When God speaks things happen, it would do us all well to understand this fact.

In the story before us we will notice that God is about to introduce his Son to the world. The star is about to be revealed in heaven, it will be witnessed by men hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Around the same time an angel is appearing to a group of shepherds tending sheep on the outskirts of Bethlehem.

On one hand we find the news of his birth shared with familiar people, the Jews. On the other hand we find this same news shared with foreign people, the Gentiles. The birth of this boy was good news for the entire world and God was about to place a heavenly banner in the sky that would lead those that were afar off to the very house that the child was living in. When the time was at hand God did not need any help, he had often used light to promote his will and his plan and so it would be used once again at the birth of his Son. We must allow scripture to enlighten us on the exact nature of this star that the Wisemen saw in the heavens on this night.

I - The Special Significance of this Star

“Redemptive Revelation & Phenomenon”

The bible tells us that these men saw the star in the east, which means that the star appeared in the western skies. In seeing the star the men are about to embark upon a lengthy journey that may have led the 1000”s of miles, let us now consider the special significance of this star.

A) Journey that this Star Prompted

The men were probably very much aware of the prophecies concerning this heavenly constellation. The men were well versed in the study of astronomy and astrology.

Astronomy is the study of objects or matter outside of the earth’s atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties.

Astrology is the study of the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets in human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects.

This group of men may have literally numbered from hundreds to literally more than a thousand. The Magi were prominent men that literally were considered as King Makers. The men had prominent and prestigious roles within the Government. The men were considered wise due to their wisdom in astronomy and astrology. The Wisemen were known for 4 various roles, 1) unique priestly functions, 2) occultic powers of divination, 3) knowledge of astronomy, and 4) knowledge of astrology.

The men were often consulted by Kings, nobles, princes, and much prominence was given to their advice. We find this often in the book of Daniel and in other various Old Testament books. The Magi in the days of Jesus literally would be like our modern day senators, with the only difference being they had the rights to pick kings, the men were literally king makers.

The present king of the Parthean Empire had been displaced by the Roman Empire so these Magi were looking for a new king to rule the eastern empire. In reading various biblical prophecies from Daniel, Balaam, and others the men had deciphered that a new king was soon to be born, and they had saw his star rise up in the western skies.

(Num 24:17 KJV) – Z”I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”

B) Jeopardy that this Star Provoked

The Wisemen would have endured numerous hardships as they traveled throughout the Roman Empire. The greatest hardship was the moment they shared the news with King Herod in Jerusalem. Herod had been on the throne since 37 B.C. and he was not ready to give up his throne, but the news from this group was startling. The Wisemen had no idea how he would react to their inquiry concerning the new born King of the Jews.

C) Jealousy that this Star Produced

Herod made it very clear to these men that he wanted to know when the baby was born and where the baby currently was located. The only reason he makes this inquiry is to kill off all of the male babies born during this time. Herod would have no rival to his throne. He shares all of this with the Wisemen in a secret meeting that is conducted behind closed doors. Herod did not want to have his followers inspired concerning this new born baby; the less they heard the better.

D) Joy that this Star Provided

We don’t have much insight to this star as far as how often the men had saw it. The bible tells us they saw this star while they were back home in the east, but we don’t actually know if the men saw the star again until they had left Jerusalem. We do know that as they exited Jerusalem the men once again saw the star, and in seeing it they were filled with great joy and rejoiced. This makes me think that they had not saw the star since leaving their homeland, due to the overwhelming joy that was displayed upon seeing the star once again.

II. The Sovereign Subject of this Star “Collective Adoration & Praise”

The various appearances of this star was solely to enlighten people and lead them to the Sovereign Son of God that had just been born in Bethlehem.

A) Star Mobilized a Plan
B) Star Organized a People
C) Star Emphasized a Place
D) Star Symbolized a Person

III. The Scriptural Suggestion of this Star

“Interpretive Consideration & Practicality”

Now let us consider the exact nature of this star, we will try and use scripture to interpret scripture. The bible does not leave us in the dark concerning the various events of the night when this mysterious light appeared in the skies. let us look rather closely in the bible. In doing so we will see some history concerning this light and we will also see the origin of this light when it first appeared on the night of the birth of Christ.

A) The Previous Introduction of this Light

The bible clearly tells us that God is light; let us look at some scripture concerning this fact. If we allow the bible to shed light upon it’s self then we can rightly divide the precious word of God.

(1Jo 1:5 KJV) – “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

(Psa 118:27 KJV) – “God [is] the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, [even] unto the horns of the altar.”

(Act 26:18 KJV) – “To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

(Rev 21:23 KJV) – “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.”

(2Cr 4:3 KJV) – “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:”

(2Cr 4:4 KJV) – “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

God is associated with light all through the bible, so we should not be surprised that he is associated with light at the very birth of his Son.

Moses and the Burning Bush

(Exd 3:1 KJV) – “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, [even] to Horeb.”

(Exd 3:2 KJV) – “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush [was] not consumed.”

(Exd 3:3 KJV) – “And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.”

(Exd 3:4 KJV) – “And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here [am] I.

(Exd 3:5 KJV)”

And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy ground.

(Exd 3:6 KJV) – “Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”

The Light that Led Israel in the Wilderness

(Exd 13:21 KJV) – “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:”

(Exd 13:22 KJV) – “He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, [from] before the people.”

Israel Murmuring in the Wilderness

(Exd 16:10 KJV) – “And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.”

God Reveals Himself to Israel on Sinai

(Exd 19:16 KJV) – “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that [was] in the camp trembled.”

(Exd 19:17 KJV) – “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.”

(Exd 19:18 KJV) – “And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.”

(Exd 19:19 KJV) – “And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.”

Moses takes others onto Mount Sinai

(Exd 24:9 KJV) – “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:”

(Exd 24:10 KJV) – “And they saw the God of Israel: and [there was] under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in [his] clearness. ‘

Moses on Mount Sinai

(Exd 34:5 KJV) – “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”

(Exd 34:8 KJV) – “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.”

(Exd 34:28 KJV) – “And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”

(Exd 34:29 KJV) – “And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.”

(Exd 34:30 KJV) – “And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.”

Israel at Mount Horeb

(Deu 4:10 KJV)- “[Specially] the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and [that] they may teach their children.”

(Deu 4:11 KJV) – “And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.”

(Deu 4:12 KJV) – “And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only [ye heard] a voice.”

(Deu 4:24 KJV) – “For the LORD thy God [is] a consuming fire, [even] a jealous God.”

(Deu 4:35 KJV) – “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he [is] God; [there is] none else beside him.”

(Deu 4:36 KJV) – “Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.”

Moses & The Dedication of the Tabernacle

(Exd 40:33 KJV) - “And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.”

(Exd 40:34 KJV) - “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

(Exd 40:35 KJV) - “And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

(Exd 40:36 KJV) - “And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:”

(Exd 40:37 KJV) - “But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.”

(Exd 40:38 KJV) - “For the cloud of the LORD [was] upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

Solomon Dedicating the Temple

(2Ch 7:1 KJV) - “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.”

(2Ch 7:2 KJV) - “And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house.”

(2Ch 7:3 KJV) - “And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, [saying], For [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever.”

Isaiah in the Temple

(Isa 6:1 KJV) - “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”

(Isa 6:2 KJV) - “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”

(Isa 6:3 KJV) - “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.”

(Isa 6:4 KJV) - “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”

Book Of Revelation

(Rev 1:7 KJV) - “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

(Rev 1:12 KJV) - “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;”

(Rev 1:13 KJV) - “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”

(Rev 1:14 KJV) - “His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire;”

(Rev 1:16 KJV) - “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance [was] as the sun shineth in his strength.”

(Rev 1:17 KJV) - “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:”

(Rev 4:5 KJV) - “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and [there were] seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

(Rev 11:19 KJV) - “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

(Rev 14:14 KJV) - “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud [one] sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.”

(Rev 14:15 KJV) - “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

(Rev 15:8 KJV) - “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.”

(Rev 19:11 KJV) - “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”

(Rev 19:12 KJV) - “His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.”

(Rev 21:10 KJV) - “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

(Rev 21:11 KJV) - “Having the glory of God: and her light [was] like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;”

(Rev 21:23 KJV) - “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.”

(Rev 21:24 KJV) - “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.”

(Rev 22:5 KJV) - “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”

B) The Obvious Interpretation of this Light

The star had been witnessed by the Wisemen and they had traveled to Jerusalem and now they were heading to Bethlehem and the star was leading them. This star has been the subject of many stories and the theme for Christmas songs.

The Star and it’s Various Myths

1. Genuine Bon a Fide Star

2. Jupiter (King of Planets)

3. Alignment of Jupiter & Saturn

4. An Erratic Comet

5. A Low Hanging Meteor

The Star and it’s Virtual Meaning

(Luk 2:9 KJV) - “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

The star that the Wisemen saw was the very same light that had appeared in the fields of Bethlehem. It was not a star at all but the Glory of the Lord. It was the Shikinah Glory Cloud of God, the same one that we previously considered that showed up and shined forth all through out the Old Testament.

1. Radiating Light

2. Blazing Light

3. Transparent Light

4. Wondrous Light

The Hebrew word for star is “KowKab” which means to shine or to blaze forth. It can reference an actual star, could be referring to an angel, and sometimes can even be used to mean a man. The idea is that is referring to something that is shining forth or blazing. (KoHaV) - “In fact in Numbers 24:17, a most interesting scripture. It says, and this is a Messianic prophecy. “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: (now listen) there shall come a kôwkâb out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” That’s Numbers 24:17. That is a Messianic prophecy, there will come a blazing forth, there will come a shining One, there will come a star. And people I believe that the prophecy there is, that none other than the glory of God incarnate is the star, the blazing.

The Star and it’s Virtuous Majesty

This fact is even further emphasized and enforced if we look at Matthew 24: 29 - 30 which tells us about the final return of Christ upon the earth at the end of the great tribulation. It is an awesome site to behold when the world see’s him in all of his regal and righteous glory.

The entire world will see the sun darkened no light from the moon and the stars fall from the heavens. The entire world will be shaken at the very foundations. It will be the most awesome moment that the world will experience.

(Mat 24:29 KJV) - “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:”

(Mat 24:30 KJV) - “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

The meaning of this word “glory” is similar to the same word used for star in the Old Testament. It means splendor and brightness, as much brightness as the sun, the moon, and the stars. It also depicts majesty that is worthy of one that characterizes absolute perfection and deity.

This would be the same glorious majesty that Jesus revealed to his disciples, when they were on the mount of transfiguration.

(Luk 9:28 KJV) - “And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.”

(Luk 9:29 KJV) - “And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment [was] white [and] glistering.”

(Luk 9:34 KJV) - “While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.”

(Luk 9:35 KJV) - “And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.”

C) The Momentous Inspiration of this Light

This light inspired men to come to Jesus. The shepherds saw this light and they quickly found the baby lying in the manger. The Wisemen saw this light and the travel for months and possibly years to find the child.

The reality of this passage is that God has revealed his light to a lost and dying world and those that seek out this light can become a child of God. I think we have proven adequately that this light is glory cloud of God. We need to be like the Wisemen and do all that we can to find the Son of God. The focal point of the Wiseman’s was not the star that led them but the son the beckoned them.

(Eph 2:12 KJV) - “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”

(Eph 2:13 KJV) - “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

(Eph 2:14 KJV) - “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us];”

(Eph 2:15 KJV) - “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;”

(Eph 2:16 KJV) - “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:”

(Eph 2:17 KJV) - “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.”

The banner that lit up the skies on the night that Christ was born was none other than the Shikinah Glory of the Lord. The banner that the Wisemen saw while they were back home in the east, was none other than that same Shikinah Glory cloud of God. The same Glory Cloud that appeared to the Wisemen as they left Jerusalem. It led these Wisemen to the very house that sheltered the God Child. It was a wondrous site to behold.

The Glory cloud of God had numerous appearances all throughout the Word of God. The Glory Cloud would often stop and settle in where the Ark of the Covenant was located. We see this in its appearances around the Old Testament Tabernacle and its filling of the Temple that Solomon had built.

The Glory Cloud of God is to be associated with God and therefore we find it appearing at the birth of his Son. The Banner that hovered over the shepherds fields was none other than the Glory Cloud of God. One of the traits of this Glory Cloud was that it was bright and blazing and it had the ability to lead people. It could go at will and stop at will and this is what we see in its various appearances in the nativity story.

This Glory Cloud was the beautiful Banner of Bethlehem and it would have made the great northern lights seem insignificant and inferior in stature and shine. This awesome banner was here to denote that God’s Son had been born and that he was God and would be associated with God.