Throughout biblical history, one way God made Himself known was through light. With Moses, His presence took the form of fire in a bush that did not burn (Ex. 3:2). Later, Moses was briefly allowed to see the Lord’s back as His glory passed by, and the prophet’s face shone brightly after that close yet fleeting exposure (Ex. 33:21-23; Ex. 34:29-30). Then, of course, there’s the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the desert at night (Ex. 13:21). And Jesus Himself, when He went up a mountain with Peter, James and John, “shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt. 17:2). So it is no surprise that for the Messiah’s arrival, there was a star above that declared His presence.
Many scholars have tried to explain the star. Was it a comet that pointed the magi toward Jesus’ location? An alignment of planets? Regardless of the science behind it, it served as a guide.
Many scholars have tried to explain it. Was it a comet that pointed the magi toward Jesus’ location? An alignment of planets? An explosive supernova? So much of the research depends on the exact timing—how old was Jesus when the magi arrived? When exactly did King Herod die? But regardless of the science behind it, Matthew 2:9 says the star, “which [the magi] had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.” Like the pillar, it served as a guide.
In “And It Was Night,” Dr. Stanley writes:
“Just as our physical eyes cannot perceive what’s happening in the dark, human limitations also prevent us from seeing what the Lord is doing in the spiritual realm. Our Father does, however, reveal what He wants us to know.”
God revealed His Son to a group of gentiles who packed up their gifts and followed. Others must have seen the star and, for whatever reason, did not think to do the same. But can I blame them? No. Often, I want the whole sun—I want instructions written out in the clouds. I want a burning bush to speak to me, to tell me exactly where to go and what to do. But God reveals what He wants us to know, and apparently sometimes He does not want me to know more than I currently do, no matter how strong my yearning is.
This Christmas, my prayer is that I will follow whatever star the Lord is revealing to me. That I will see it. That I will trust good awaits wherever He leads me. And that I’ll go gladly, knowing He always gives just enough.
Illustration by Adam Cruft