Stars come in various sizes, shapes, ages and brilliance. It is their brightness that is the most noted of all their attributes. Astronomers still engage a system for measuring the brightness of a star that was developed by one of their own named Hipparchus at about 120 BC. The scale he developed rates the brilliance of stars from 1 to 6. One is the brightest and six the faintest. The brightest stars are said to be of the first magnitude. The brightest star in the skies today is Sirius and it is rated a 1.42. Hipparchus method of rating the luminescence of the stars is used to this very day.
The Star of Bethlehem falls outside of Hipparchus method. It was apparently a one time event. It was never seen before and there is little reason to believe it will ever happen again. The account of the Star of Bethlehem is found only in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.
Hundreds or perhaps thousands of people saw the brilliant star pulsating in the eastern skies. The stir it created was so great that it reached the ears of Herod, a man, who later was to become the King of Judea. The Romans did not allow anyone to be called a king throughout their empire except by special dispensation. Herod successfully wrangled the title from the Roman senate through great coercion, which bespeaks of his manic megalomania.
Herod called upon his scribes and priests to verify for him where the Christ child was to be born. When the scribes reported that the star and the scriptures coincided for the little town of Bethlehem Herod was satisfied with the report and began scheming to kill the Christ child. Herod had no plan to give up any power to another king, Messiah or not.
It is said that other than the cross upon which Christ was crucified, the Star of Bethlehem is the most widely known Christian symbol in the world. There is yet to come one new symbol or sign that will far exceed the attention given to the Star of Bethlehem. It may very well be the cross again used symbolically but it will have the distinction of being the most noticed epiphany or sign in history. Plainly said, no one in this world will miss it. What will this great sign be?
The sign will be seen universally on both hemispheres. This raises the question of how a bright sign can be seen in broad daylight. God wants no one to miss this one so he makes sure there is no broad daylight when this sign appears. He also won’t allow anyone to think it is a close encounter from other planets, the arrival of some other deity or so called avatar like Buddha or Mohammed. The sign belongs to only Jesus Christ and no one will miss this fact.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24: 29-30
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Stage one is the blocking of the daylight. Stage two is the sign perhaps the cross. Why the cross? Whether atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, angel or devil no one in this world does not know that the cross represents Jesus Christ. Stage three is the actual appearance of Jesus himself. He will not be coming to suffer and die or to reason with nations or call people to believe, he is coming to remove all power from the hands of men (at last) and sit as ruler of the earth.
More than a half dozen times the Bible says that the moon will be dark red like the color of blood and something will obscure the sun as the Lord returns to make things right on the earth. Only once does the Bible say that the sign that will appear will belong to only Jesus Christ. Whether that sign will be brighter than the Star of Bethlehem or not is a matter of conjecture but what follows it will be a blinding and brilliant light. In the center of that living light will be the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is appropriate that Christ is referred to as “the bright and morning star” Revelation 22:16.
As I sat alone one day pondering the course of my life. I was searching for some real answers and one of them I considered was faith in God. After carefully examining this in my heart I spoke up and talked to God. I won’t relate every detail here but as I spoke to God He appeared to me, by He, I do mean Jesus Christ.
I was afraid to tell anyone of this experience for over a year or so. I didn’t want to be labeled as a religious fanatic. What’s more is up to that time in my life I was convinced that no one saw visions anymore. I could not describe adequately how brilliant the vision was and up to now the best I’ve been able to come up with is that Jesus face shined with a visible but brilliant uncreated light that leave mere words to weak to describe. It had no heat or harmful effects but it made the sun look dim. Only once have I ever seen anything to equal the brilliance of that vision. That was to come as a second vision a year or so later.
As a new believer I was often disturbed by dreams, hundreds of them like so many Technicolor previews of coming events. Most of them were about daily events and had to do with me or people in my immediate surroundings. Some, however, were far more significant. A few of them are clearly about events in the near future but of those that had to do with something current, not one was ever wrong. Out of them all one stands out as the most significant. It was this single vision that propelled me into a lifelong study of biblical eschatology. (Second coming of Christ)
When I finally stopped being afraid of the visions it was because I began to realize that they were given for the telling not the hiding. I have seen men and women scoff at my visions and I’ve seen them give their lives to Christ on the spot after listening to me. Regardless of the outcome I have always taken strength from something my former pastor and friend Dr. Richard Land once told me. He said, “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
All of the details of my greatest vision are contained in an article I wrote entitled “Do People See Visions Anymore.” I haven’t enough space here to relate all the details of that particular vision but I must tell at least one part of it.
We will ever grow the pictures of the Star of Bethlehem in our imaginations. Those who love God and await the return of Christ to the earth will also stretch their imaginations to their limits trying to envision what the arrival of “The Great and Morning Star” will actually look like. I may have been blessed with a preview of that great event and one aspect of it will be unforgettable to me until my last breath.
As I watched events transpire on earth and in the heavens. The most awe inspiring sight of all was when a brilliant living light came swirling downward to the earth to finally land in the place where the oriental and occidental races of the earth meet, Jerusalem. The purity, brilliance and life contained in that light were beyond all the words I have in my vocabulary to this day. Perhaps that is why I will say no more at this juncture and leave the rest to your imagination and to a verse or two of the old and lovely gospel tune written by Alger M. Pace and R. Fisher Boyce called Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.
Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
Shining afar through shadows dim
Giving the light for those who long have gone
Guiding the wise men on their way
Unto the place where Jesus lay
Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on
Oh Beautiful Star the hope of rest
For the redeemed the good and blessed
Yonder in glory when the crown is won
Jesus is now the star divine
Brighter and brighter he will shine
Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on
Oh Beautiful Star, of Bethlehem
Shine upon us until the glory dawns
Give us the light to guide the way
Unto the land of perfect day
O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on