Nearly every piece of Christmas art work I have scence has a bright, shiny star, the Star of Bethlehem, the star that guided the Magi from the East to Jesus, he was born to be King of the Jews. What do we learn from the star for Advent?
Without dismissing it as irrelevant, the quest to find the comet or astronomical data serves a purpose, but has very little to do with the meaning of the text. R.T. France suggests it might be more appropriate to speak of something that “appeared to be a star” (Matthew, 69). Dale Allison (Studies in Matthew) listed the many interpretations in the early church where many thought the “star” was an “angel.”
That aside, I ask myself, what’s the point of the star?
First, if this star reflects Numbers 24:17-19, then “salvation of the Gentiles” is even more prominent than just having the Magi involved. Here is that text in Numbers:
I see him, but not in the present time.
I perceive him, but far in the distant future.
A star will rise from Jacob;
a scepter will emerge from Israel.
It will crush the foreheads of Moab’s people,
cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.
Edom will be taken over,
and Seir, its enemy, will be conquered,
while Israel continues on in triumph.
A ruler will rise in Jacob
who will destroy the survivors of Ir.
If this text is behind this event then what we have in “star” is an astronomical portent of doom, of judgment against the enemies of God. The baby born King of the Jews will reign over the whole earth.
Second, the star is a “guiding” star, a providence-directing star. And that star leads the Magi from the East to Bethlehem, city of David, to Jesus, announced Messiah and Savior of his people and the Gentiles. Anyone who talks about this star today should end up talking about Jesus as Savior and Messiah.
Advent, if seen through the star, then is the Day of Doom for Injustice and the Day of Glory for the Just. It is a Day to gather round the Messiah and worship him as King.