"The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising." Isaiah 60:3 "there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel," Numbers 24:172007 years ago today a contingent of Persian astronomers with a vast cohort of bodyguards and servants paid a surprise visit to the small hamlet of Bethlehem in Judea. Why would these dignitaries visit tiny Bethlehem? The answer spans eternity.
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies show His workmanship." Psalm 19:1 "God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky, and let them serve as signs. . . ." Genesis 1:14When the temple of Solomon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, many young, bright Jewish men were taken captive to Babylon to be educated in the ways of the Babylonians. One of these young men was Daniel. But Daniel found favor with God. He quickly rose to become one of the king's advisors. After one episode, when God revealed to him a dream that the king had dreamt, Daniel was elevated further to the position of chief advisor and wise man. It was here that he no doubt began to educate the soothsayers, astrologers, and wise men of Babylon in the ways of the one true God. As time passed, Babylon fell before the Medo-Persian Empire. But Daniel retained his position as an influential leader in the new regime, and continued to work with the pagan astrologers. It was here that he taught them that although the stars do not control us, our God controls the stars.
"A sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red serpent. This dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." Revelation 12:1-5In early September of the year 3 BC, a group of Parthian 'kingmakers' stood in a tower overlooking their citadel. These men had a reputation for their ability to predict when a king would be born based on the stars. This gained them their title, 'kingmakers', or in the native Persian, "Magoi". The skeptics in the kingdom no doubt noticed that those marked for kingship by the Magoi usually rose to power because of this distinction, not the other way around. But through the reputation carried over from the days of the great prophet Daniel, these Magoi still held sway over the public policy of the Parthian empire. On this night, aides ran frantically to and fro making measurements and sighting the stars carefully. Near the top of the tower, several of the head Magoi conversed quietly. "The 'little king', Regulus, has lined up with Jupiter, the 'ruler of kings', for weeks now. And Regulus is the lead star in the Lion of Judah that Daniel spoke of." The Israelites used the constellations to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and told the story of the Torah using the skies. The lion we know as Leo they named the Lion of Judah. Having been well schooled by Daniel, the Magoi were quite aware of this. "What I am more interested in is that our view of Judah has just been obscured by the Virgin," said the leader of the small band. "And she is lying due east, next to the sun's rising. The Serpent has hung below this whole structure for a few days now." Yet another of the Magoi nodded, tugging his flowing white beard. "If my predictions are right, the sun will be at the hip of the Virgin and the moon at her feet tomorrow morning. And it appears that the Lion, with Jupiter, will pass from the sun to the moon at the same time." A wizened old man in the corner straightened up. "Remember what was taught us. A virgin shall conceive and bear a son. His name will be called 'God with us'. Immanuel." The first speaker, now excited, assented. "A scepter will rise out of Israel." The leader stopped the conversation by slowly rising. "It is the Sign." The group stood and spoke in unison. "It is the Sign." The next night, the group stood gazing to the east from the top of the tower. "The sun will rise in a few moments," whispered the youngest of the Magoi. As the first rays of our nearest star broke the horizon, clothing the Virgin in golden light, the leader spoke. "Look there! The Virgin gives birth!" The men watched as the Lion of Judah with Jupiter at its head came from behind the moon and out from the feet of the Virgin. They gasped in awe as a brilliant light lit up the sky to the east. It looked so small and far away, but it gave off such light. And it was so clear, the men felt as though they could reach out from their tower and touch it.
"Now there were in [Bethlehem] shepherds living out in the fields. And behold, the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid." Luke 2:8,9In Him, D3 UPDATE: click here to read Part 2!