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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas: The Magi and the Star of Bethlehem

“We three kings of orient are bearing gifts; we travel so far; field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.”O-oh, star of wonder, star of might, star with royal beauty bright. Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us by your perfect light.” Such familiar words, but it was only last year that I learned just how profound their meaning.

The Magi were a group of men referred to as “wise men”, “scholars”, and even “kings”. There were different groups of Magi. Some were those involved in occult practices, from where we get our word “magic”. Some of the Magi were not astrologers, but astronomers. The difference is that the astrologers use the stars to predict the future; whereas, the astronomers study the stars to discover what God was showing them. The familiar three, whose exact names vary depending on which culture consulted, are believed to have been from the Eastern Group.  Balthazar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia and Gasper of India were Jewish men who worshipped the true God. They were watching the configurations of the planets and stars, because they believed that God would send them a sign of great importance. Like all of the Jews, they were expecting the Messiah to come one day. These Magi were not telling fortunes, but trying to understand what the God who made the stars and planets was trying to tell them. They were convinced that the Star of Bethlehem would lead them to the place where they would find the Messiah. They had been waiting for this sign for a long time.

There is a marvelous DVD out there that will show you in graphic detail just what it was that the Magi were looking for and what they found. You can see for yourself by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

Mr. Rick Larson, a lawyer not a preacher or astronomer by profession has seriously studied this event in response to the Lord’s leading.  Some amazing facts have emerged. The quick summary is noted here:

3 BC at the time of the Jewish Festival, Yom Kippur (September): The indication from astronomical configurations was that the King of the Jews (Jesus) had been conceived by a virgin.

2 BC (Nine months later… June): An extremely unusual astronomical event occurred, making it clear to these three Magi that it was time to leave Babylon (near present-day Bagdad) and head out towards the Star that had risen in the East over Judea. They believed, with all their hearts, that this was the sign that the baby had been born who would be the King of the Jews, the Messiah. They wanted to worship him.

Months later, they arrived in Jerusalem and began to inquire just where the child was-- the King of the Jews. When King Herod learned of their search, he called for the Jewish leaders who let King Herod know that the event was expected to take place in Bethlehem. King Herod met with the Magi, asking them to get back to him as to the exact location of the baby king, so that he, too, could come worship him. Of course, he had no intention of worshipping Jesus but God took care of that in His own way and that is yet another story! Back to the Magi…

The Magi found that they did not need a map, or any directions, to find the place where Jesus and his parents were staying. Looking up to the sky they saw the brightest star that they had ever seen. They followed it to Bethlehem and, as the Scriptures said, the Star stopped right over the place where Jesus was! The day that the Magi found the Baby Jesus and presented their gifts to him? Why, December 25th, of course! No kidding! The Jewish people used a different calendar than we do, so that date does not have the same significance to them as it does to us; but still, one can believe with confidence, confirmed by science, that the very First Christmas that was celebrated with the gifts from the Magi was on our own December 25.

See the evidence for yourself:

****Have a very Merry Christmas!


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