STAR was His Sign...
-- Don't you hate being left speechless... almost apologetic... and certainly defensive... especially when... everything else seems reasonable and alright? (After all... we are NOT the ones orginating the story. The ancients did!) So... what's the answer?
In the ancient book of Matthew... it is written:
"We saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him"
Perhaps, this recorded event has become one of the greatest challenges for whatever reason... to people of faith today... as we try to understand the meaning of the Bethlehem Star... seen by some Wise men from the East. And yet... how is it that wise men living in the land of Promise couldn't see it? Wouldn't you think if it were some spectacular WOO-WOO appearance... it would stop a camel or two... capturing somebody's attention? It certainly would ME!! After all, thousands of people in every generation claim to see "the miraculous" and make their pilgrimages to hither and thither on a regular basis. Obviously the Star was NO fireball spectacular! Neither was it a comet... or those Middle Eastern Magi have to have been riding some of the fastest, jet-propelled camels in the world.
Just perhaps, the Bethlehem Star wasn't, in one sense... so miraculous or extra-ordinary an event. Today, the greatest miracle might be seen in the handful of people who occasionally shut off television... open up a book, read... and learn! (smile)
From the earliest pages of Biblical history... we discover that God,
when He spoke all things into existence... placed Stars in the sky... for
a sign. Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), the Austrian (English and Italian, too!) composer of the Classical period... wrote in the libretto of his masterful composition:
The Heavens are telling the Glory of God!
Then John, the apostle of love... puts some flesh and blood on the whole confusing matter when he states: We beheld His Glory... as of the Only begotten of the Father... full of grace and truth. Later, the apostle Paul would write: For all have fallen short... and fallen short of the Glory of God. So Who is this glorious One which the heavens make so much noise about? And how exactly is it that the heavens declare Him?
E. Raymond Capt's The Glory of the Stars is a pithy little book which best seems to illustrate the point. The following sections come directly from Capt. In his Introduction, we read:
"Gazing upon the multitude of stars that shine in the nocturnal heavens, one might despair of reading anything intelligible in their design - they seem to be so scattered, so entirrely without order, spread with such confusion over the face of the sky.
"As we behold these twinkling points of light, shining down from their serene heights, we recall the words of the Psalmist:
"The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge... Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." [Psalm 19]
"Having declared that the heavens reveal God's glory, the Psalmist informs us that the heavens declare a message in a language that is understood by all peoples. These starry worlds, as such, do show forth His "handiwork", but explain little about the "glory of God". How then can the stars be made to speak, in a language everyone can understand?
"The answer is quite evident. Pictures speak in all dialects. They speak a universal language, to all people everywhere. Somewhere in the earliest ages of human existence the visible stars were named. Certain ones were arranged into groups by someone thoroughly familiar with the laws of astronomy. Those names and groupings were at the same time included in certain figures, natural or imaginary, but intensely symbolic and significant. Today we know them as Constellations.
"Twelve constellations make up the Zodiac....
[Zodiac means: The Way... which, by the way... is one of the earliest names in the Book of Acts describing followers of the Christ.]
"It is well known that the ancient races drew charts of these Zodiacal Signs; that ancient astrology was actually the father of astronomy. Astronomers sometimes denounce the Zodiac as unnatural and confusing, yet they have never been able to brush it aside or to substitute anything better or more convenient in its place. The Signs of the Zodiac are part of the common universal language of astronomical science.
"The Zodiac is found in religious faiths and pagan superstitions. Astrology is based upon it. The Bible is replete with it. The Companion Bible tells us that all the verbs in the second half of Psalm 19 are of an astronomical nature....
"...The existence of Zodiacal figures have been traced in all ages and among all nations, with all their features settled and fixed from the most distant periods. Learned antiquarians of modern times have searched every page of heathen mythology, ransacked all the legends of poetry and fables to answer the question, Who framed this system? Investigations of all the religions, sciences, customs and traditions of every nation, tribe and people have failed to discover who first so accurately observed the celestial bodies and so sublimely wove them together into one great scheme....
"It was believed by the ancient star-gazers that the north was the center of the universe, the throne from which the gods governed man and his little world. Therefore, many mythologies thought to see in the northern stars various minor divinities, powerful in their own right yet circling reverently round the throne of the supreme ruler. Such was the idea of the Greeks when they spoke of the palace of Zeus as being among the north stars. The Chinese employed the same theory when they located the throne of Shang Ti in the Pole Star. To all the ancients the stars of Ursa Major, in particular, were believed to be the nerve center from which all matters pertaining to heaven and earth were controlled.
[Perhaps... that's why Santa lives up that direction?! In The Saturn Myth... check out the historical root to the tradition of jolly ol' St. Nick's home at the North Pole.]
But let's get to the point: A Star was His Sign... and I don't mean Santa's! (smile)
"Every atlas of the heavens is filled with figures and outlines of men, women, animals, monsters and other objects. Each one includes a certain set of stars. These figures, together with the cluster of stars they embrace, are know as "Constellations". The configurations are abstractions, bounded by certain imaginary and by no means defined lines. Some of these apparent patterns were known and used by our forefathers for thousands of years. Although it is commonly believed the characters and objects of the constellations came from Greek and Roman mythology, there is evidence of a far greater antiquity.
"If we examine the records of the ancient nations of the world we find the Chinese, Chaldean and Egyptian astronomers recognized the same "signs". This, in turn, suggests their zodiacs were but copies of an even older zodiac. Because we find such universal agreement on the constellations, it is evident that the patterns were fixed according to some well-developed religion. Sometimes the stars lend themselves naturally to the figures. In the case with Scorpio (the Scorpion), its heart is marked by the red star "Antarus", and the stars delineate a raised tail that seems ready to sting....
"The Constellations of the Signs... are:
I - Virgo, the Virgin: the figure of a young woman, lying prostrate, with an ear of corn in one hand and a branch in the other.
II - Libra, the Scales: the figure of a pair of balances, with one end of the beam up and the other down, as in the act of weighing.
III - Scorpio, the Scorpion: the figure of a gigantic insect, noxious and deadly, with its tail and stinger uplifted in anger, as if striking.
IV - Sagittarius, the Bowman: the figure of a horse with the arms and head of a man - a centaur - with a drawn bow and arrow pointed at the Scorpion.
V - Capricornus, the Goat: the figure of a goat sinking down as in death, with the hind part of its body terminating in the vigorous tail of a fish.
VI - Aquarius, the Waterman: the figure of a man with a large urn, the contents of which he is in the act of pouring out in great stream from the sky.
VII - Pisces, the Fishes: the figures of two large fishes in the act of swimming, one to the northward, the other with the ecliptic.
VIII - Aries, the Ram (by some nations called the Lamb): the figure of a strong sheep, with powerful curved horns, lying down in easy composure, and looking out in conscious strength over the field around it.
IX - Taurus, the Bull: the figure of the shoulders, neck, head, horns, and front feet of a powerful bull, in the attitude of rushing and pushing forward with great energy.
X - Gemini, the Twins: usually, two human figures closely united, sitting together in endeared affection. In some older representations the figures of this constellation consist of two goats, or kids.
XI - Cancer, the Crab: the figure of a crab, in the act of taking and holding on with its strong pincer claws. In Egyptian astronomy, the scarabaeus beetle takes the place of the crab. It is represented as grasping and holding on to the ball in which its eggs are deposited.
XII - Leo, the Lion: the figure of a great rampant lion, leaping forth
to rend. His feet are over the writhing body of Hydra, the Serpent, which
is in the act of fleeing.
"These major Constellations cover a large part of the visible heavens. They extend entirely around the earth, making and marking the Solar Zodiac. But these twelve great Constellations do not stand alone. Each has three minor constellations grouped around them, either on the north or south of the so-called "Zodiacal Belt".
"The Minor Constellations are:
I - Virgo, the Virgin with Spica, the Seed in her hand. She lays prone -- helpless. The Child is the immediate attention..
1. Coma, the Infant, the Branch, the Desired One
2. Centarus, a centaur, with dart piercing a victim
3. Bootes, or Arcturus, the great Shepherd and Harvester, holding a rod and sickle, and walking forth before his flocks.
[Interesting to note: though this Constellation speaks of a Virgin...
it immediately focuses on the Promised Child and Desire of all Nations
to be born... The Centaur... the two-natured being... and The Shepherd.]
II - Libra, the Scales... weighed in the balance and found wanting... seeking the Perfect, Adequate price for payment...
1. Crux, or cross (called the Southern Cross) over which Centaurus is
2. Lupus, or Victim of Centarus, slain, pierced to death.
3. Corona, the Crown (Borealis) which the Serpent aims to take, called the "Northern Crown".
III - Scorpio, the Scorpion: the great confrontation
1. Serpens, the Serpent, struggling with Ophiuchus.
2. Ophiuchus, the serpent holder, wrestling with the Serpent, stung in one heel by the Scorpion, and crushing it with the other.
3. Hercules, the Mighty Man, wounded in one heel, the other foot over the Dragon's head. In one hand he holds the Golden Apples and the three-headed Dog of Hell, in the other -- the uplifted club.
IV - Sagittarius, the Bowman: the war
1. Lyra, an Eagle, holding the Lyre, as in triumphant gladness.
2. Ara, the Altar, with consuming fire, burning downward.
3. Draco, the Dragon, the old Serpent, winding himself about the Pole in horrid kinds and contortions.
[The greatest number of Red stars... reported as appearing or disappearing
throughout history... have been associated with this one Constellation
more than any of the other star groupings.]
V - Capricornus, the Goat: the atonement in death
1. Sagitta, the Arrow (killing dart sent forth), the naked shaft of
death. Wrath poured out.
2. Aquila, the Eagle, pierced and falling... taking the punishment.
3. Delphinus, the Dolphin, springing up, raised out of the sea as in resurrected life.
VI - Aquarius, the Waterman: those bringing the water of new life
1. Picus Australis, the Southern Fish, drinking in the stream of life..
2. Pegasus, the winged horse, speeding as with good tidings.
3. Cygnus, the Swan on the wing, going and returning, bearing the sign of the cross.
VII - Pisces, the Fishes:
1. The Band, holding up the Fishes, but held by the Lamb...
2. Andromeda, a woman in chains, threatened by the Serpent...
3. Cepheus, a crowned king...
VIII - Aries, the Ram (by some nations called the Lamb):
1. Cassiopeia, the woman enthroned.
2. Cetus, the Sea Monster, closely and strongly bound by the Lamb.
3. Perseus, an armed and mighty man with winged feet who is carried away, in triumph, the cut-off head of a monster full of writhing serpents.
IX - Taurus, the Bull:
1. Orion, a glorious Prince, with a sword girded on his side and his
foot on the head of the Serpent.
2. Eridanus, the tortuous River, accounted as belonging to Orion.
3. Auriga, the Shepherd, carrying a she-goat and two little goats on his left arm. He also holds cords, or bands, in his right hand.
X - Gemini, the Twins:
2. Canis Major, Sirius, the coming Prince.
3. Canis Minor, Procyon, following after Sirius and Orion.
XI - Cancer, the Crab:
1. Ursa Minor, anciently called the Lesser Sheepfold
2. Ursa Major, anciently called the Greater Sheepfold...
3. Argo, the Ship, the company of travelers under the bright Canopus, their Prince. These are the brave Argonauts, returning with the Golden Fleece.
[The Golden Fleece being the original coverings God provided
for Adam in the Garden... where it all began.]
XII - Leo, the Lion:
1. Hydra, the fleeing Serpent, trodden under foot by the Crab and Lion.
2. Crater, the Bowl of Wrath, upon the Serpent.
3. Corvus, the Raven or Crow, the bird of doom, tearing the Serpent apart.
(Capt: p. 13-22)
[Genesis 3:15 - the LORD cursed the Serpent and said: "And I will put enmity between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head; you shall bruise his heel". I've heard it said: If the choice is between getting your head crushed or your heel... it's better to have it be the heel!]
A Star was His Sign...
"Virgo is pictured as a woman with a branch in her right hand and some ears of corn in her left hand. The name of this sign in Hebrew is "Bethulah", which means "a virgin"; in Greek, "Parthenos", "the maid of virgin pureness"; in Arabic, "Adarah", "the pure virgin". All the traditions, names and mythologies, connected with this sign, recognize and emphasize the virginity of the woman. But, the greater wonder is that motherhood attends the virginity....
"Coma, the Infant: Ancient Zodiac's pictured this constellation as a woman with a child in her arms and called it "Comah", meaning "the desired" or "the longed for".... The ancient Egyptians called this sign, "Shes-nu", meaning "the desired son". The Persian name of the woman denotes a pure virgin who is on a throne. She is nourishing an infant boy having the name "Ihesu" (Hebrew), significantly similar to the Greek name "Ieza", which is called "Christos"....
"...Shakespeare indicated an awareness of the true symbolism of the sign Coma. He spoke of the shooting of an arrow, up to heaven, "to the good boy in Virgo's lap" (Titus Andronicus, Act IV., Scene 3).
"According to the Persian historian, Abulfaragius (1226-1286 A.D.), Zoroaster, of Zerdusht (the Persian) was a pupil of Daniel the Prophet. Zoroaster was given the prophecy that a new star would appear when He, whom Daniel foretold, would be born. In the writing "Zend Avesta", this new star was to appear in the sign of the Virgin. Tradition says it was the constellation Coma in which "the Star of Bethlehem" appeared. There may have been a Persian Magi among those who searched for the "Desire of all nations"....
"New stars, appearing suddenly, are not an unusual phenomenon. They have appeared again and again. The Greek astronomer Hipparchus recorded a new star so bright as to be seen in the daytime, in 125 B.C. Several early Christian writers, probably quoting from eye witnesses, wrote concerning a new star shinging forth in the land of Jacob. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch (A.D. 69) says: "At the appearance of the Lord a star shone forth brighter than all the other stars". Prudentius (4th cent. A.D.) describes the star as brighter than the morning star. As late as A.D. 1572 a new star appeared (in the constellation of Cassiopeia) that could be seen in the daylight. It faded from sight in 1574....
"Centaurus - The figure shown in this picture is that of a man's head, trunk and arms, coupled with a horse's body and legs. It faces eastward and is represented as charging with a leveled lance or spear in his hand. The spear is aimed at the heart of the victim (Lupus). The Greek name given to Centaurus was "Cheiron", which means "the pierced" or "who pierces". The figure of the Centaur indicates the two natures of the "Seed" of the woman.
"In both the Hebrew and the Arabic, the meaning of this constellation is "the despised". Isaiah wrote: "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3). Another name for the constellation, in Hebrew, is "Anmeath", which means a "sin-offering"....
"Centaurus is one of the lowest of the constellations, being farthest south from the northern center. It is situated immediately over and surrounds the Southern Cross on three sides, and extends north of it to the coils of Hydra....
"Bootes, the Coming One -- This constellation continues and defines the story of the constellation Virgo. The figure is of a strong man walking rapidly with a spear or rod in his right hand and a sickle in his left hand. The ancient Egyptians called him "Smat" which means "one who rules, subdues and governs"....
"The Hebrew meaning of the name of this constellation is "the coming". The sickle in his hand represents him as a reaper....
"There is a wealth of meaning in the names of the stars making up this figure. Arcturus, a bright star in the figure's left knee, is mentioned in Job 9:9. It means "He cometh". the star "Al Katurop" (in the spear or rod) means "the branch, treading under foot".... Another star name means "who separates".... Other star names mean, "who bruises", "the preserver" and "the pierced".
"Bootes, along with the other constellations in the Sign Virgo,
illustrates the coming One... born of a virgin, "the desire of all
nations", having two natures in one... slain... and finally triumphant
over death... who is coming in strength.
(Capt: p. 33-41)
Well friends... there's so much more to this exciting Story of the Ages. We just got through a few pages of the first Chapter - Virgo. There's eleven more to go... and each Constellation and Sign illumines the wise in each generation who still will look... shedding light on the incredible nature and life of this Promised One.
I hope you will continue to check out the earliest astronomical meanings
of all those various star clusters. Moreover... just take a few minutes...
step outside this evening... and check out the skies. The Heavens... yes...
even approaching the 21st Century... the Heavens still
declare the Glory of God. And miracle of miracles... then know this...
that in that brilliant declaration... the Word... became flesh and dwelt
among us. And we beheld His Glory... as of the Only begotten of the Father
-- full of grace and truth.
"For unto US... the Child was born. To US... the Son was given....
And His Name... shall be called: Wonderful Counselor... the Mighty God...
the Everlasting Father... the Prince of Peace."
So why were the heavens measure out... or as Job observed: garnished... in grand display? Why were the stars arranged each in their place... for a sign? Pointing to which great event or events... which incredible occasions? To find answers... we, too, must look beyond the simple traditions and shallow dissatisfactions of the season. Oh... enjoy the time with your family and friends... but for quiet answers that speak to our disappointments and satisfy the longing in our heart... look beyond the trees bedecked in tinsel and beauty. Look... even beyond the warmest thoughts and best wishes. Look up! The Heavens declare the Glory of God!
An exquiste song written by my mentor music teacher, Jack Coleman
-- sums this up best:
Thus Was He Born. Thus was Christ born.
Lowly and humbly He thus was born.
A Star was His sign and God's love marked the reason...
He came for mankind.
Came to deliver the captive, To lift up the fallen,
To heal those with sickness, To take away sorrow,
To bring men forgiveness, Release and redemption.
For God's glory.
Thus Was He Born. Thus was Christ born.
Lowly and humbly He thus was born.
A Star was His sign and God's love marked the reason...
He came for mankind.
Don't ever... forget: When we couldn't find Him... when we were confused and lost... and couldn't seem to find our way, He came... as Light shining in a dark place. He came... for me and you.
A Star was His sign. God's love... was the Reason.
Without a doubt... the finest presentation on the Heavens declare His Birth can be found given by E. Raymond Capt. Check out his YouTube: