The second sabbath(Saturday) of this month, my family and I went to Manor House Nursing home in Dover, Tennessee. We visit every second Saturday of the month to minister to the residents by singing hymns and giving small sermons, which my dad calls sermonettes. Usually it’s just me; Mom; Dad; and a fellow Christian named Chris who are there to minister, but this time my brother Mike was there. Always good having an extra voice. With it being the holiday season, we sang all Christmas songs from the hymnal Among those hymns was one of my favorite carols “We Three Kings”, which is about the wise men of the Nativity being led by an extraordinary star as they travel to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus. If you are not familiar with the song, here is the first stanza and chorus:
“We three kings of Orient are/ Bearing gifts we traverse afar./ Field and fountain, moor and mountain,/ Following yonder star.”
“O star of wonder, star of night,/ Star of royal beauty bright,/ Westward leading, still proceeding, /Guide us to thy perfect light. “(“Christmas Carols – We Three Kings lyrics.”)
A good many of us know this carol, and the story about those wise men, but I’m not sure many know what the bright star in the east truly was.
Before we get to the star, I feel compelled to talk about the wise men. Did you know that the Bible does not mention the number of wise men who came to visit Christ? The wise men are mentioned in the book of Matthew, but no number is given. We assume that it was a trio of wise men because there were three gifts- gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Let us discuss how the wise men came upon the star. According to chapter six of Ellen G. White’s “Desire of Ages”, the wise men(magi) were philosophers who “belonged to a large and influential class that included men of noble birth, and comprised much of the wealth and learning of their nation. Among these were many who imposed on the credulity of the people. Others were upright men who studied the indications of Providence in nature, and who were honored for their integrity and wisdom. Of this character were the wise men who came to Jesus.” – (DA 59.2) One night when the magi were studying the sky to understand what their future held, they came upon the bright star. Puzzled by what they saw, they decided to research Hebrew Scripture. (DA 59.3)
“In their own land were treasured prophetic writings that predicted the coming of a divine teacher. Balaam belonged to the magicians, though at one time a prophet of God; by the Holy Spirit he had foretold the prosperity of Israel and the appearing of the Messiah; and his prophecies had been handed down by tradition from century to century. But in the Old Testament the Saviour’s advent was more clearly revealed. The magi learned with joy that His coming was near, and that the whole world was to be filled with a knowledge of the glory of the Lord.”– (DA 59.3)
Scripture records that the star was moving, leading the wise men to their destination. Throughout history, people have used star constellations such as the Big Dipper to find their way around, but this appeared to be a single star shining bright, physically moving across the sky. It couldn’t have been a shooting star because a shooting star is actually a meteoroid flying through Earth’s atmosphere until it burns away. (NASA) What were the wise men seeing?
“The wise men had seen a mysterious light in the heavens upon that night when the glory of God flooded the hills of Bethlehem. As the light faded, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the sky. It was not a fixed star nor a planet, and the phenomenon excited the keenest interest. That star was a distant company of shining angels, but of this the wise men were ignorant.”- (DA 60.1)
Angels. In scripture, the angels in Heaven are referred to as stars symbolically.
“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”-Revelation 1:20
However, this star was an actual group of angels together. White’s writings don’t give an exact number of how many angels were there to be the star in the East. Regarding how many angels there are in general, Revelation 5:11 says that there are “ten thousand times ten thousands and thousands upon thousands”. Also, keep in mind that Revelation 12:4 says that a third of stars, which are angels, were cast out of Heaven along with Satan.
You have to wonder what the astronomers of today would make of the glorious star if they saw it shining bright in the sky. Could their advanced satellites and telescopes make out all those heavenly hosts, or would their mortal eyes be perceived to think it was just a star or distant planet. More than likely astronomers and the average person standing in their back yard would mistake the phenomenon for a sign of extraterrestrial life.
In my opinion, if people today could behold a host of heavenly beings shining bright in the night sky for the world to see, maybe it would be all the more proof that there is a God in heaven, that no matter how uneasy and chaotic this world made seem, you have someone to guide you, just as those wise men were being guided to the son of God all those years ago.
Estate, Inc. Ellen G. White. “The Desire of Ages”. EGW Writings. N.p., 2016. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.
“Revelation 1 KJV.” Revelation 1 KJV. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.
“Revelation 12 KJV.” Revelation 12 KJV. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.
“Revelation 5 KJV.” Revelation 5 KJV. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.
“Christmas Carols – We Three Kings lyrics.” Christmas Carols – We Three Kings lyrics | LyricsMode.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.